Bernie Sanders scored a resounding victory in Nevada's presidential caucuses on Saturday, cementing his status as the Democrats' national front-runner amid escalating tensions over whether he's too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump.
The 78-year-old Vermont senator successfully rallied his fiercely loyal base and tapped into support from Nevada's large Latino community as the Democratic contest moved for the first time into a state with a significant minority population.
The win built on Sanders' win earlier this month in the New Hampshire primary. He essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses with Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has sought to position himself as an ideological counter to Sanders' unabashed progressive politics, but was fighting for a distant second place in Nevada.
The victory, while encouraging for Sanders supporters, only deepens concern among establishment-minded Democratic leaders who fear that the self-described democratic socialist is too extreme to defeat Trump. Sanders for decades has been calling for transformative policies to address inequities in politics and the economy, none bigger than his signature "Medicare for All" health care plan that would replace the private insurance system with a government-run universal system.
Despite establishment anxiety, moderates are struggling to unify behind a single candidate, and the vote on Saturday was again split between several centrists, including Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden.