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Clinton & Sanders in Tight Race in Nevada. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 20, 2016 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jason, you're getting some numbers, early numbers from the count over there? Is that right?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These numbers just coming in to us from our precinct where we are, Wolf. I can tell that you that the count is as follows. 27 in this room for Clinton, 20 for Sanders, that's the early count that we're getting here.

In terms of the official percentages now, it looks like we now have Clinton at 57 percent, Sanders at 43 percent. Again, I want to point out this is very early, in the process here. It was interesting to watch how things went down in this particular precinct in this classroom. They did a count at first, they weren't happy with that count, there seemed to be some sort of discrepancy between the number of the people in the room, Wolf, so they did a recount.

And came up with this final number here for where we are. At one point, there was one uncommitted caucusgoer. She was in the back of the room, a young woman. She ended up going for Sanders. But again the final count at this precinct and this classroom here, 27 for Hillary, 20 for Sanders.

BLITZER: All right. Jason Carroll, we're going to get back to you. This is very, very early data, very early. David, very, very early. Just one caucus site. One precinct. There's a lot more to be had.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot more to be had but we are learning more about how this electorate, the people who are going to caucus today feels about the candidates and what they are looking for. To me, you're going to tell us but it just goes to show that narrative about candidates, they set in and they set in hard and they set in early.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: There is no doubt about that. We asked people when they show up to the polls, what qualities you're looking for in a candidate. Take a look at this. Among those that are looking for an honest and trustworthy candidate, Sanders demolishes Hillary Clinton. 85 percent to 11 percent. That's a quarter of the electorate looking for an honest and trustworthy candidate. When you ask those that are looking for the candidate with the right experience that is also a quarter of the electorate. And this is Clinton universe. 92 percent of those voters are for Clinton, Seven percent are for Sanders.

So you can just see in equal slices one quarter and one quarter, you have a swath of voters looking for honest and trustworthiness and it's all Sanders and you have a swath of voters looking for the right experience and it's all Clinton. We've seen this in Iowa, in New Hampshire. The way the qualities are dividing what the voters are looking for in their candidate, that's what is dividing the democratic electorate right now.

BASH: It's so fascinating. We don't know exactly which of these qualities is driving the most voters.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Right. These two qualities are equal. 25 percent, one honest and trustworthy - and when we do the other qualities, cares about people like me or has the ability to win in November, also roughly equal slices of the electorate. One in Bernie's camp, one in Clinton's camp.

BASH: Absolutely, fascinating. Wolf.

BLITZER: It is fascinating, indeed. The other 50 percent, David, are we getting any indication what was motivating those people?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: The other 50 percent are the ones looking for a candidate who can win in November, the electability. Those are Clinton voters, and those that are looking for somebody who cares about me, or people like me, those are Sanders voters. Again -

BASH: Like it was in Iowa and New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see the democratic electorate breaking up in these equal slices and very divided between Clinton and Sanders depending what is most important to them in the candidates.

BLITZER: It helps explain why it's so close right now between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in these Nevada presidential caucuses. Let's go back to Jay.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Indeed. Those are fascinating numbers. Michael, let me start with you. If you were going to go to a laboratory and design a candidate who is perceived as being honest and trustworthy and caring about people, like the average voter, you might come up with a guy like Bernie Sanders and then in the same breath if you go to the laboratory and come up with somebody who has the right experience and is perceived as being electable in November, you might come up with Hillary Clinton.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: What I found significant thus far recognizing all the caveats, how early and so forth it is, winning seems least valued by these voters among those four categories. I think that bodes poorly for her.

TAPPER: It's very interesting, why would electability, Gloria, be not as important as some of these others?

GLORIA BORGER: Well, I think it's the passion argument that Michael was making earlier. Bernie Sanders is all about passion and these people are not thinking about electability right now. I don't think. And I think that the interesting thing about the honest and trustworthy numbers and the cares about people like me numbers, they are so consistent and so overwhelmingly lopsided.

In Iowa, New Hampshire, now in Nevada that the Clinton campaign understands I am sure this is a real problem for them. Even if they run the table after this, even if they win everything, they have an issue when it comes to the general election on these two numbers.


UNIDENTIFED MALE: It says something where our politics is right now in that we've seen this on both sides, electability hasn't played big in the Republican primaries either. People are voting on other factors. And yes, this is a concern. It's the head heart thing. That's going to keep playing out.

One thing I just wanted to say, Jake, on the previous - David's previous notation. If there is a split between people on to continue the president's policies or not, that could bode well for her among African-American voters.

TAPPER: I hate to interrupt. We're going to come back to you. But I need go to Wolf Blitzer. Some of the first votes for us, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jake, thanks very much. We have a key race alert coming in right now. These are the first real live numbers coming in not entrance poll numbers. Take a look at how close it is right now. Seven percent of the precincts, seven percent of the vote is now in, 50 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.6 percent for Bernie Sanders.

It's only 7 percent but it's amazingly close right now. A lot closer than some people had suggested. Fifty percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.6 percent for Bernie Sanders. Virtually, John King, dead heat right now between these two democratic presidential candidates.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As you note very early on just seven percent of the vote in but you see that dead heat. The votes coming in. You see Hillary Clinton and the two largest counties shaded her color, 50 percent to 50 percent out here in Clark County. This is more than 70 percent of the vote. This is the largest chunk of votes, in terms of who wins statewide, Clark County will determine that unless it stays 50-50. Then we count every vote across the state.

Twenty one percent already in Clark County. So Clark County starting to come in faster as we watch the votes here. Let's just match this up. Fifty percent of the vote for Clinton right now, back in 2008 she had 54 percent when she beat then Senator Obama statewide. So let's come back and look at the state and come back to 2016 as the results come in. We're still at seven percent.

Reno area is the second largest county in this part of the state. Again, 51-49. If you go back in time, this is a place where then Senator Obama won 50-41. In the two largest counties at the moment if we look at the current results it's dark blue for Hillary Clinton but it's very close as this comes in. So if the map stays like this we'll have a long night going through the different counties as well. Figuring out how the delegates will be. BLITZER: Between those two counties, you have about 85 percent of the

population of the entire state. So we'll be watching those counties where Reno is, where Las Vegas is where most of the people live. Incredibly close now. Jake, we've been suggesting it's going to be a nail biter. It certainly is.

TAPPER: 51-49 is stunning. Seeing these numbers come in, I mean, this is close.

S.E. CPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is close. It's interesting with some of the entrance polling on experience we talked about how that narrative has really been successfully hammered home by Hillary Clinton. She had a two-prong approach in Nevada. In urban populated areas she has been hammering on immigration, she's calling Bernie come lately to the immigration argument. And in more rural counties she's talking about experience, and how Bernie's visions are really pie in the sky and she's got the realistic pragmatic approach. If she can win both on immigration and experience, I think that's a model that she takes around the country.

TAPPER: Look at that vote come in, Van Jones. 50 percent for Clinton, 49.6 percent for Sanders. Obviously these are just the first numbers but they are actual votes.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITIAL COMMENTATOR: Very, very early. Again, some of us who are kind of early on saying I think this Sanders surge is real. I think the revolution is real. I think there's a pain threshold that has been hit for ordinary people in the country, in the white community it's showing up on this Trump thing.

But you can only sit on a white hot stove so long before you start screaming. And what you're hearing is people are starting to scream. They don't care if the relief that they need sounds unrealistic. When you're talking about young people who are having hundred, $200,000 of debt just to get a degree that they can't even get a job with, to them saying listen, "I went to high school for free, why can't I get my next degree free." That does not sound unrealistic to them. So I hope that the establishments in both parties listen better. Don't lecture people say scream less loudly, or scream more coherently, we hear you screaming.

TAPPER: And Bakari Sellers, I have attended a few events for Bernie Sanders and one of the things he does is he asks people who has college loan debt? People raise their hands. It almost becomes a competition. $150,000, $200,000. He asked a few questions about it. It's really something that is resonating with a lot.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I sit here today with $113,000 worth of college debt. You come out and you want to do everything that your parents tell you to do. You go out, get the degree you get a good job and you can have pie in the sky the American dream. It's not just that.

To Van's point it is that, that white hot stove right now. I mean people are feeling this pain. But what Bernie Sanders has also done is that Bernie Sanders has made Hillary Clinton a much better candidate. When she first started this race she was making missteps that she otherwise shouldn't have made. But now she is actually connecting with voters, she is actually talking and having some emotion. So Bernie Sanders has actually lifted this race up tremendously.


TAPPER: Well, I know you are a Clinton supporter but don't thank him for making her a better candidate too close because the votes are really coming in very close, 50 percent for Clinton, 49.6 percent for Sanders.

We're going to take a very quick break. Numbers are actually coming in from the Nevada democratic caucuses and it shows it is a squeaker of a race. Stay with us. We'll be right back after this.


BLITZER: We have another key race alert. Once again let's go to the real numbers just coming in. All of a sudden, Bernie Sanders has taken a very slight lead over Hillary Clinton with eight percent of the expected vote now in. Bernie Sanders 50.3 percent to Hillary Clinton's 49.4 percent just a few moments ago, Hillary Clinton had a slight lead, but now Bernie Sanders takes a very, very slight lead.

Remember only eight percent of the expected vote has been tallied. These are actual numbers, this is not from the entrance poll results. I want to go to CNN's Kyung Lah. She's at one of those caucus sites in Reno. University of Nevada-Reno. It's going on and on for about two hours right now. I don't think it was supposed to take this long, Kyung, but there has been some delay.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some delay. They have had an enormous turnout, turnout was according to a couple of the campaign volunteers here that they have far more than what they saw in 2008. So, they are just about to start caucusing. They called for the various party leaders to come out, the precinct captains, you can see Hillary Clinton is a sign posted over there, over this way if you can swing all the way to that corner you see that is Bernie Sanders. And then in this empty space here where you see that man in the suit is the undecideds who are going to end up in that corner.

Pretty soon they are going to make an announcement for everyone to get up and head to those signs, that shows who their preference is. They are also being given the secondary cards, there is a two-step process in this room. They count bodies, and then count the cards. I'm going to lower my voice as sounds like they are about to begin.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to get back to you, Kyung. Thanks very much. Dana and David, an incredibly tight race now. We're beginning to learn more and more why it is so tight.

BASH: That's right. I love the fact that, Kyung, is in a university area caucus site because that - and the fact that it's overflowing with people because that does really speak to the Bernie Sanders voter. And we're learning a lot more about that with these entrance polls. Aren't we, David?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. This does get at exactly what Wolf was saying, why we see such a close race going on. Take a look at voters by age. Let's start with senior citizens. 65 and older, they are going for Clinton by a huge margin, 71 percent to 26 percent. They make up about 28 percent of the electorate overall. Younger voters, overwhelmingly for Sanders by a bigger margin than we've seen in the two previous states at this point, 84 percent for Sanders, 11 percent for Clinton. This is 17 to 29 years olds. They make up 19 percent of the electorate.

So again, we're seeing the real - the youngest voters and the oldest voters upping their participation from what we saw in Nevada eight years ago and we're seeing this divide that we've seen play out even to a greater degree than we've seen previously.

BASH: We are seeing the divide but to your point about the older voters being a larger portion of the electorate than younger voters, that is good news for Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. When you are - what is that, that's 44, 45-point spread there. When you are winning a group by 45 points and it makes up a larger share of the electorate than the group that he is winning by I don't know, 70 points or whatever that is, 73 points, yes, that gives them some hope there but again, he's winning the younger voters by a larger margin than she is winning the older voters.

Yes, there are more older voters but this is something that we are going to continue to see play out in the primaries and caucuses ahead as well.

BASH: It is a we've been talking about for the past several months, when you have somebody never mind his age, he is 74 years old, really appealing to the hope of young people, that matters. And that resonates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt about it.

BLITZER: They like the fact he wants to give them free college education.

BASH: No question about it.

BLITZER: If they go to a state university, I don't know if he can get that through but that's what he says he would like to do.

BASH: By far, the biggest applause line for Sanders.

BLITZER: It really resonates with young people out there who have enormous college debt. They see a presidential candidate say vote for me. I'm going to try to get you free college education. That's pretty significant point. We're getting some new numbers I want to share with you right now. We got some more numbers coming in. 50.3 percent, now Hillary Clinton is taking a very, very slight lead to Bernie Sanders 49.5 percent.

Once again, very early, these are numbers just coming in. It's going a little back and forth, Jake, as we watch what's going on. You know what, I want to go to John King quickly over here to get a little better sense. For all practical purposes with 14 percent of the vote now in, it's a dead heat, 50-50.

KING: It's a dead heat. Early on, you see Senator Sanders winning the northern part of the state, the small rural counties but we're going to spend most of our time, Wolf, is Clark County, Las Vegas, 72 percent of the state population. This is where most of the votes coming in. Nine percent so far in Clark County. This is where Secretary Clinton, the winner essentially needs to win Clark County.

Secretary Clinton with a lead over Bernie Sanders at the moment with nine percent of the vote in. So watch that. This is the bulk of the votes that will be counted tonight and the second biggest county is over here, largely in the Reno area. It gets more rural as you move up here. And you see here, it's 50-50 tie with 40 percent. A pretty quick count coming in from the northwest corner of the state.

But as we watch the rest of it fill in, now oftentimes, you think of these smaller counties, you just pick, why not take a peak, it's a tiny percent, Elko, slightly less than two percent of the population. Often you think well it doesn't matter in a state wide race. But if we're 50-50 to the end we'll be counting them all.

Watch the map fill in watch. Watch this. This is 2016, at the moment, 15 percent in. Somewhat familiar, somewhat similar to 2008 when then Senator Clinton beat Senator Obama, six points state wide. So as we watch this fill in 15 percent, a lot to of counting to do.


Some of those caucus sites still voting, because it was so crowded, people were waiting. As we fill it in, it's a battle. This is if you go back in time, today Team Clinton wants to get a victory. If you go back in time, any expectation it would be this close, nobody expected it to be this close.

BLITZER: A few months ago she had a huge lead in all the polls. 15 percent of the actual vote is now in, 51-49, it's been going back and forth. We expect probably will continue to do so, a real nail biter in Nevada right now. The democratic presidential caucuses. More numbers coming in right after this.


BLITZER: Live pictures coming in from the University of Nevada-Reno. That's where one of the caucuses is taking place right now. You can see it's been a little bit delayed because of the huge turnout there. Our Kyung Lah, is on the scene. We're going to check back with her to see where the results are at the University of Nevada-Reno.


But right now, we have another key race alert.

With 18 percent of the actual vote now counted in the Nevada, Hillary Clinton maintaining a very slight advantage over Bernie Sanders, 50.9 percent for Hillary Clinton, 48.9 percent for Bernie Sanders. Once again now it's changed a little. 19 percent of the vote is in. 50.5 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.4 percent for Bernie Sanders. Very, very close contest now.

Let's go over to John King who is taking a closer look. John, she is still maintaining a very, very slight lead. It's a lot closer than it would have been a couple months ago when the polls showed she was way ahead.

KING: This was supposed to be the first act of what the Clinton campaign a fire wall. Once you get passed Iowa and New Hampshire, you get to he states like Nevada, next we go to South Carolina, where you have a significant African-American population, you have a significant Latino population. That was supposed to be the Clinton fire wall.

At the moment, as you know, we're just shy of 20 percent of the votes statewide, this is a dead heat in Nevada. 50-49. The winner here if it ends up like this no matter who is on top this close - the delegates are going to be split pretty evenly. So how is she maintaining the lead right now, the reason she is slightly ahead in that statewide count is because of a significant lead at the moment in Clark County, which again is more than seven in 10 Nevadans live here in Clark County, Las Vegas and the suburbs around Las Vegas, the major population center in the state.

Thirteen percent of the vote counted there. She maintains a lead, now if the margin stays the same as the rest of the vote come in, absolutely zero guarantee of that, but if she's run up this margin of 13 percent, if she stays significantly ahead then the statewide numbers will stretch out if she continues to have such a big lead because of the population center here.

The rest of the state starting to fill in, these are much smaller rural counties but you see here the healthy Sanders lead. Up in Elco, 57-43 and then second largest county is over here in most of the votes are down here in the Reno area, and you've got almost half of the vote in here, this is a battleground out here. 51-49.

So as they sit in the two headquarters figuring out where this is going to go. If you're Team Clinton, you're happy she is ahead in Clark County where most of the votes are and you have to hope that that margin something close to that margin stays as the rest of it comes in. But as we saw in the sites that are late, they were late starting, late counting, because the influx of people coming, that was the Sanders big hope. Get a big turnout. We'll get better results. We'll see if that theory turns into practice as we get the later precincts.

BLITZER: Yes, over the last week or so the polls showed it was going to be very close. You're right 21 percent of the actual vote is now in. 51 percent to 49 percent. That's incredibly close right now.

Jake, the polls in the last few days said it was going to be close. Guess what, it is.

TAPPER: I don't know that I knew they were going to be this close every time I write down the number is, I have to cross it off and add the new numbers right now. 50.8 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.1 percent for Bernie Sanders with 21 percent of the vote in.

Paul Begala, in the conference call with reporters, the Clinton campaign manager a month ago saying she was up 25 percentage points. This is -

PAUL BEGALA: A way to set the bar.

TAPPER: Well, he was trying to reassure people after New Hampshire and Iowa it was going to get easier for her. She might pull it out but this is a lot closer than anybody on the Clinton campaign wanted it to be.

BEGALA: Absolutely. Senator Sanders a lot of credit running a great campaign. What Hillary's campaign is trying to do is one of the hardest thing to do in politics, hold off a surge. A lead is not like an egg. If you sit on it, it doesn't hatch. It just breaks and makes a mess. So she's trying to reassert, this is what makes it a great race. It's going to go to the wire and then it's going to go to South Carolina.

TAPPER: Let's go to Reno, Nevada right now. Kyung Lah is at the caucus site at the University of Nevada at Reno. They are counting votes. Kyung, what's going on?

LAH: They just announced go at this caucus site. There are 207 people votes that are going to be counted on this room. I want you to look there, remember this is a university campus, but that's the Hillary camp in this caucus room. It's a little lonely when you look now over here at the center section, all these people over here and again, these are predominantly university students, this is the Bernie camp.

So, if we could take a look in the very corner, going to step over this way. You look past that cameraman there, there's a few stragglers of undecideds. As we had a sense throughout the day as they were lining up to register to vote and lining up here to caucus, overwhelmingly you know, you know it from the polls, university students are for Bernie Sanders. This room clearly for that candidate. Jake.

TAPPER: Kyung Lah showing, at the University of Nevada-Reno, just how disproportionate the younger vote is going for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. Bakari Sellers, that actually represents fairly accurately what we're seeing with our entrance polls with the candidate the breakdown, 17 to 29 years old, Bernie Sanders getting 83 percent of them to Clinton 13 percent.

[16:30:08] Obviously, that's just the younger voters, it's not the whole voters and Hillary Clinton up right now with 22 percent of the vote in, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent. But, boy, do Sanders do better with younger voters. BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to go out on a limb and

say Bernie Sanders wins that precinct.


TAPPER: No caveats?

SELLERS: No caveats on that one. It does show something that Hillary Clinton, if she happens to be the nominee in November is going to have to deal with. I mean, this enthusiasm gap with young people is real. It's a real problem. We've been saying this.

I think it changes somewhat when you move to African-American millennials where she says she's up 60 to 30 in most cases. But it still is a major issue because at the end of the day if we win Nevada in November, those people need to show back up to vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, and we have to make sure they do.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And that's the interesting thing because, yes, I mean, he is crushing her with young people. I was on the campus of the University of South Carolina just a couple of days ago, and they are big Bernie fans as they are here in Reno.

But the interesting thing is, while the millennial generation is the biggest in history, youth turnout traditionally isn't that great. Even when you go back to Obama turnout, which was the biggest youth turnout since they were allowed to vote, they all could have stayed home and he still would have won. So, it's just, it's a big demographic now, now that we have millennials, but the turnout isn't always big enough demographic to matter.

So, are these Bernie voters who are way more enthusiastic than they are about Hillary, are they going to go out and vote again? That remains to be seen.

TAPPER: With 24 percent of the vote in Hillary Clinton is slightly up with 51.7 percent over Bernie Sanders 48.2 percent. The numbers are coming in, the actual votes, forget the polls. We're going to take a very quick break. More actual voting.

Nevada's Democratic caucus coverage continues here on CNN after this quick break.


[16:36:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a key race alert. Take a look at this: 28 percent now with the vote in Nevada, the Democratic presidential caucuses in. Hillary Clinton maintaining a very slight advantage, 51.8 percent over Bernie Sanders 48.1 percent. This is a sizable number, 28 percent of the vote is now in. She continues to maintain a very slight advantage.

Let's go over to John King and watch what's going on.

John, I want our viewers to know that there are plenty of votes left but she is maintaining her slight advantage. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's maintaining her

slight advantage and she's maintaining it mostly, Wolf, because of Clark County. Again, we're going to be talking about this all day long -- 72 percent, 73 percent of the state population right here in the Vegas area, predominantly, and she has a big lead right here, 56 to 44 percent. So, very close state wide but she's winning with this, up to 21 percent.

Again, if anything close to this continues as the count continues, then she will stretch her lead and she will -- she needs this, if she keeps this at 56 percent in Clark County, then she will win statewide.

But we don't know that as we continue to wait, because if you go back to statewide, we're just at 52-48. So, the keys for Secretary Clinton, keep that margin up here and as we wait out here, the second largest county, it's Washoe County out here, it's Reno and the suburbs predominantly, this is where Senator Sanders is now slightly ahead with a little more than half of the vote counted.

So, he is running stronger a little bit, essentially a tie in the second largest county. She is running way ahead down here in the biggest county. And now, we're just going to keep counting.

The question is, as we wait for the Clark County vote, we're only at 23 percent, some of that is because the voting started late because there were so many in line, to wait to start. The voting started late. So, is that a sign that Sanders will win or does Secretary Clinton keep up a 10-point margin? If she's anywhere in the ballpark of 10-point margin in Clark County, she will carry it statewide.

But still, as we move into this phase, I just want to come out to the national map, she won Iowa, narrowly, he won New Hampshire big. At the moment she is leading narrowly in Nevada.

What this does tell you, no matter what the final result is in Nevada, it is yet another sign that Senator Sanders is very competitive, which means this Democratic race is not going to be over for a long time.

So, we'll be counting not only the margin of victory, but also be counting delegates from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and then we move on to South Carolina.

BLITZER: She's doing lot better with older voters, he's doing lot better with younger voters.

Speaking with younger voters, let's go to Kyung Lah. She's at the University of Nevada-Reno now.

Kyung, I take it they started to count the numbers there? Is that right?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are counting the numbers. And by our count, Bernie Sanders has 88 percent of the room, Hillary Clinton has 9 percent. There are some undecideds.

So, what you're seeing here is caucusing in action. We saw some of the Bernie Sanders people come in and they are -- you can hear them trying to convince them. I want to listen in here as just poke our head in as you hear precinct captain for Hillary Clinton try to convince the undecided.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's got heart to get into this area. As a woman, especially being earlier on, fighting hard going to the United Nations working in other countries, she brokered sanction for -- sanctions for Iraq. What other presidential candidate can say they did that. None of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because none of them have been president yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But she was first lady -- or she was secretary of state. I understand that Bernie Sanders hasn't had the chance to be secretary of state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders voted right on the war in Iraq, I believe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie Sanders has been so much more just -- he has never changed his mind on anything. It's not progressivism when you're changing your mind. I think that's a weak leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not changing your mind, she's changing with the populace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many times that people questioned her. And how many times people questioned Bernie Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, can you directly answer, though, how she is elected president how will she not keep the establishment out? How will she actually create change that she's trying to make?

[16:40:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you explain what you mean by the establishment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like this whole like the government kind of working like saying like, you can say whatever you want as president but actually getting into office and doing something. So like how is she proven that she -- once she gets elected to like the position she will make this change? Because a lot of people get into office get stymied and they just kind of sit there and they don't --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But she hasn't. She's actually -- she's done so much work. It's not that she is sitting around like on like not doing much.

There is a reason that Obama put her as secretary of state because he knew she could go far and make real changes. With Iraq she's like gone into different parts of the Middle East and Africa and other parts of Asia to work for greater - peace. When she was -- as senator she was the first woman female or senator I believe in New York, and she works hard.

She's -- it's not just that she has been doing nothing. My problem with Bernie Sanders, for 35 years in Congress, he's gotten very little done. His voting record is amazing. It's stellar. I don't have a problem with Bernie Sanders as a senator at all but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the real change is going to happen when we as people decide what we want for this country. I think that happens with a more progressive view, giving the real issues out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Bernie Sanders progressive issues are great but he hasn't done. We need a president that's going to get things done, not just somebody who has great opinions.

I have great opinions but I would make a terrible president. I don't know how I would work with Congress or how to work with other countries because I don't have enough experience. Like I don't believe that Bernie Sanders is experienced but he is a good guy, I don't want to go negative on Sanders. There is so much more positive about Hillary Clinton that I don't need to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn't vote for a candidate because we're pandering to what the Republicans are going to be obstructionist against. What we need to do is stand up for what we believe in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to -- the thing is --

BLITZER: I love that debate going on, trying to influence undecided voters, the young people passionate in favor of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

We've got a key race alert. A third of the vote almost in in Nevada. Take a look at this -- Hillary Clinton maintaining a slight advantage over Bernie Sanders, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent. A third of the vote now in. Two thirds still outstanding. Hillary Clinton with a very, very slight advantage over Bernie Sanders.

Let's take another quick break. We'll update you on the latest numbers when we come back.


[16:46:47] BLITZER: We've got a key race alert right now. Take a look at this: 35 percent of the vote in Nevada. The Democratic presidential caucuses now in. Hillary Clinton maintaining a slight advantage over Bernie Sanders, 51.6 percent to 48.3 percent. Still, a lot of votes outstanding but very, very close battle, a tight battle in Nevada. These Democratic presidential caucuses under way.

I want to remind our viewers, there is a Republican primary taking place today in South Carolina, the top of the hour, about 13 minutes or so, we're going to share with you the first exit poll numbers we're getting from South Carolina from the Republican presidential primary we're watching Nevada. We're watching South Carolina, stay with us for that.

I want to go to CNN's Kyung Lah right now. She's at the University of Nevada-Reno right now, where the young people are voting overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders.

Is that right, Kyung? LAH: Yes. I'm going to whisper because they are trying to do the

count now for Bernie Sanders and look at the size of the group that is supporting Bernie Sanders. Again, this is a university, a lot of young people holding up support for Bernie Sanders.

By our estimation, 88 percent of this room is going to go to Bernie Sanders. I want you to look at Hillary Clinton's corner. It's quite lonely there. The man holding up the sign there, we only counted 17 people for Hillary in this room. Again, this is just one snapshot of the entire state.

There are few undecided people. Six left. One decided to go into the Bernie Sanders camp.

So, overwhelmingly, Wolf, as they confirm the count here of the caucus in this particular room, Bernie Sanders.

BLITZER: So, to be viable as they say in a precinct you need 15 percent. She might not get 15 percent of that precinct there. She wouldn't be viable as far as delegates in Nevada.

I want to go to Jeff Zeleny, our correspondent with the senator's campaign right now.

They must be happy even though Hillary Clinton maintain as slight advantage. A few weeks ago the polls showed him getting crushed in Nevada.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. No doubt about it, Wolf. Of course, Iowa began to change everything.

Here is a little bit of a look inside of how the Sanders campaign organized so hastily here. After that big New Hampshire victory which was just a week, a little more than a week ago, they flew more than 100 staffers on a chartered plane here to Nevada to fan out across the state, some Iowa staffers had been on the ground here as well. They also had help from some California volunteers, others across the west. Overnight they had a campaign operation.

The Clinton campaign, of course, had been here for so long but they ramped up once this became a competitive race here. It is absolutely a competitive race. I talked to a top Sanders campaign official. He said regardless of the outcome here, the tightness of this race breaks the suggestion that Bernie Sanders cannot appeal to a diverse electorate, that he cannot appeal to Latino voters, African-American voters.

One thing clear watching him campaign was this economic message, his message of income inequality. It really resonated in a state like Nevada which, of course, was scarred so economically some eight years or so ago.

[16:50:07] So they believe that that message will help him going forward into South Carolina among some younger voters.

But they are not focusing entirely on South Carolina. They are focusing on a broad array of Super Tuesday states. He will campaign somewhat in South Carolina, over the next week, before the South Carolina Democratic primary, one week from today. But he's also focusing on Massachusetts, on Minnesota, on Colorado, on Oklahoma, those are the four key states where they believe they can actually have their next showing here.

So, as John King and others have been saying all afternoon, this race is going to go on, Wolf. This is just one chapter of what could be a very long Democratic nominating fight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jeff, we'll get back to you.

Another key race alert right now. Take a look at this -- 38 percent of the vote in: Hillary Clinton 51.6 percent, Bernie Sanders, 48.3 percent. Very, very close contest. Plenty of votes still outstanding.

You know, Dana and David, a few days ago, she extended a visit to Nevada presumably her internal poll numbers showing it was going to be closer than many of her supporters thought it was going to be. And all of a sudden, we see a very, very tight race.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. The fact that she was out there, that her husband was out there, that her daughter was out there pressing hard, being even more intense in their criticism over criticism of Bernie Sanders, but one of our friends on the other side of the room was saying that momentum breeds momentum.

And that's exactly what Jeff is reporting plays out. I mean, there's no question that you can send 100 staffers on a chartered plane anywhere you want, but if you don't have the momentum it won't matter.

Clearly, what you saw out of Iowa, out of New Hampshire, more importantly, has helped Bernie Sanders and that economic message, right? I mean, the fact of the matter is I've spent time in Nevada. I know you have too over eight years, they have been hit so incredibly hard.

Job situation, the housing situation, and there's no question that Bernie Sanders' message helps play there.

But I want to ask you how we're seeing the electorate break down when it comes to race.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. We talked about this before that this is a more diverse electorate than we saw obviously in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now, we can look at sort of how that's breaking down by candidate. So take a look at the white voters in Nevada. Sixty percent of the electorate today is white in Nevada, and Bernie Sanders winning them 50 percent to Hillary Clinton 46 percent. Versus if you look at non- white voters, this is 40 percent of the electorate. Hillary Clinton winning them by 9 points over Bernie Sanders, 53 percent to 44 percent. So, Dana and Wolf, remember, a 60 percent white electorate, so more

diverse than eight years ago. It was 65 percent eight years ago. And you see the split here. You see that he is winning white voters by a little bit. Not nearly by as big of a margin she is winning non-white voters.

Now, there's the one caveat we have to make here: among non-white voters, it's not a monolith, right? We are seeing him right now in the entrance polls doing better among Hispanic voters than Hillary Clinton. And we're waiting for more information on African-American voters, Asian-American voters. But, still when you pool all of the non-white voters together, she is winning by 9 points and that's helping this close right now.

BASH: That's very interesting. As I toss back to you, Wolf, I should say there was a new phenomenon in the caucuses this year, there was a tele-caucus which allowed people abroad, military people stationed outside Nevada, members of the Peace Corps, diplomatic corps, they caucused and Bernie Sanders won that according to the Nevada Democrats.

BLITZER: Very, very fascinating. Very tight race in Nevada now between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. We're watching it very closely.

I want to remind our viewers we're also watching the Republican primary in South Carolina. The polls closed there in about two hours, a little more than two hours.

Right at the top of the hour we're going to begin sharing some of the exit poll information we collected from the Republican primary contest in South Carolina. How is Donald Trump doing, how Ted Cruz doing, Marco Rubio and the other Republican presidential candidates.

We'll take a quick break. Much more right after this.


[16:58:28] BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN election center.

We have a key race alert right now. The Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada with 45 percent of the actual vote in, almost half of the vote in, Hillary Clinton maintaining a slight advantage over Bernie Sanders, 51.7 percent to 48.2 percent. But guess what, more than half of the vote outstanding. A very, very close race right now.

Let's go over to John King, try to figure out why it is as close as it is because there's still plenty of votes outstanding.

KING: As close as it is, because Bernie Sanders is winning right now in the northern part of the state quite well. And Secretary Clinton is in the lead because she has this 10-point margin in Clark County.

Thirty-six percent of the vote in Clark County, it sounds repetitive to keep saying this, but it's more than 7 and 10 Nevadans that live here. This is where if you try to win the state vote this is where you do it.

BLITZER: That's where Las Vegas is.

KING: Las Vegas and Las Vegas suburbs, most of the votes are cast here. So for Democrats you want to win the caucuses, if you want to win the vote total here. If you want to win the delegate total, that will be something we get in more later when we have more of the votes in.

I want to give you a history lesson. Right now, 45 percent counted, it's close, it's 4-point race, with Secretary Clinton on top.

Let's go back in time. She won by 6 points back in 2008. In 2008, she won Clark County, again where most of the votes are by 10 points, right, 10-point lead then to a 6 point statewide. This time, she's ahead 4 points stayed wide, because again of a 10-point lead in Clark County.

This is the base of her support, so what she needs to do is keep a good margin in the 10-point range, as this vote comes in. We're at 39 percent now. It's been pretty consistent. I watched it dip, then gone back up. She has been around 10 percent as the vote continues to come in.