Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat back a strong challenge from Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, a result that could help calm worries about the strength of her campaign.
With 79% of precincts reporting, Clinton was leading with 52.1% of the vote to Sanders’ 47.8%. Vote counting was delayed in Nevada by heavy turnout.
“This is your win,” Clinton said in a tweet, thanking supporters for her victory.
Sanders’ strong performance in a state with a heavy minority population, where Clinton was once expected to win by double digits, suggested the Democratic nominating race could be long and hard-fought.
But Clinton’s victory buoyed worried supporters and gave her fresh momentum as she heads into the next contest in South Carolina on Feb. 27, where polls show her with a double-digit lead largely as a result of heavy support from black voters.
After routing Clinton in New Hampshire and finishing a strong second in Iowa, states with nearly all-white populations, Nevada gave Sanders his first chance to prove he can win over black and Hispanic voters and compete nationally as the race moves to states with more diverse populations.
Republicans in South Carolina also were voting on Saturday in the state-by-state contest to pick nominees for the Nov. 8 election, with opinion polls showing front-runner Donald Trump trying to solidify his spot at the top of the pack and rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio fighting for a second-place finish.
Behind them, Republican candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Ben Carson could be vying in South Carolina to keep their campaigns alive before the presidential race rapidly picks up steam in March when dozens of states hold nominating contests.