Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

By Riley Snyder April 7, 2016

No, Bernie Sanders didn't retroactively win Nevada

Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of Nevada’s presidential caucuses back in February, but some supporters of Bernie Sanders are claiming the Vermont senator might have won the state after all.

The pronouncement came after Sanders delegates ended up outnumbering Clinton’s during the hectic Clark County Democratic Convention on April 2, leading many media outlets and supporters to declare that Sanders retroactively "won" the state by outmaneuvering Clinton.

So, did Sanders add another state to his column as many have claimed?

The answer is no, and it likely will remain that way.

We’ll tell you why.

Caucus math

Nevada has a total of 43 delegates it sends to the Democratic National Convention in July.

Eight of those are so-called "superdelegates," made up of elected officials like Sen. Harry Reid and other party powerhouses who get to independently decide which candidate to support. (Four currently support Clinton, one supports Sanders and three are neutral so far.)

Of the remaining 35 delegates, 23 are so-called "district-level delegates" who are allocated based on February caucus results in each of the state’s four congressional districts. Clinton won 13 of those, while Sanders won 10.

The remaining 12 are doled out during the state party convention in May.

Of that 12, there are five pledged "party leader and elected official" delegates and seven "at-large" delegates awarded proportionally, so whichever campaign has a majority of supporters at the state convention will win the odd-numbered delegate from those groups.

Ideally, the process is supposed to look something like a Matryoshka doll — smaller amounts of delegates at each step of the process, but retaining the same proportions of the initial February caucus. Initial estimates from February had Clinton winning 20 delegates and Sanders taking 15.

Featured Fact-check

But that didn’t happen at the Clark County (Las Vegas) convention in early April, as the Sanders campaign had 2,964 delegates show up compared to 2,386 for Clinton.

In February, Clinton won a total of 4,889 delegates in Clark County but less than half of those showed up for the county convention.

Accusations flew from both campaigns about questionable practices before, during and after the county convention, with the Sanders campaign claiming party officials tried to "depose a neutral official," and Clinton surrogates like Nevada state director Michelle White upset with a "number of irregularities" in the convention process.

Leaving those accusations aside for the moment, the practical outcome is that Sanders now has a larger number of delegates (2,124) attending the state convention in May than Clinton (1,722).

That means they’ll be in a position to pick off a few of those remaining 12 convention delegates.

Based on the numbers, it’s likely that Sanders will be able to flip delegates and go from a projected 20-15 deficit to a more narrow 18-17 delegate split. (This count doesn’t factor in the superdelegates, who are also tilted toward Clinton.)

For Sanders, that’s not "winning" Nevada.

Longtime Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston and the Associated Press reported in the immediate aftermath of the county convention that the likely final result remains a Clinton victory.

"Clinton’s widely expected to keep her Nevada win except in the unlikely event of a Sanders blowout at the state level or if Clinton-backing superdelegates defect to the Sanders camp," the AP reported.

Our ruling

Several reports claimed that Bernie Sanders retroactively won Nevada’s presidential caucuses, based on higher-than-expected turnout at a major county convention.

Sanders likely swung two delegates his way after the county convention, but we won’t know for sure until the state convention selects the delegates in May. Either way, Clinton still holds a narrow delegate lead, projections show. That lead is larger if you include the support of Nevada’s so-called "super-delegates."

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Email interview with Michelle White, Hillary for Nevada state director, April 6, 2016

Associated Press, "Will it matter that Sanders won NV county conventions?," April 5, 2016

U.S. Uncut, "Bernie Sanders Wins the Nevada Caucus After All," April 3, 2016

Occupy White House, "Bernie Sanders Projected Winner of Nevada Caucus 19-16," April 3, 2016

Russia Today, "Bernie Sanders set to win Nevada after delegates switch," April 3, 2016

Ralston Reports, "Sanders likely flips two delegates after dominating Clark convention," April 2, 2016

Ralston Reports, "Bernie vs. Hillary boils over in Nevada before Clark convention," April 2, 2016

Las Vegas Sun, "Sanders wins most delegates at Clark County convention," April 2, 2016

Reddit, "BERNIE WINS NEVADA," April 2, 2016

Twitter, Bernie Sanders, April 2, 2016

NV Dems, "CAUCUS MEMO: OVERVIEW OF DELEGATE COUNTS FOR NEVADA’S FIRST IN THE WEST DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CAUCUS," Nov. 18, 2015

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Riley Snyder

No, Bernie Sanders didn't retroactively win Nevada

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up