- Democrats are holding caucuses in Nevada - the first test for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a more racially diverse state
- While Clinton once saw the Western battleground state as an opportunity to pull away from Sanders, it could be another photo finish
- South Carolina's presidential primary could determine Donald Trump's strength as a front-runner and help clarify who will challenge him
- Polls close in South Carolina at 7pm Eastern
By Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent For Dailymail.com and Associated Press
Published: 11:05 EST, 20 February 2016 | Updated: 16:45 EST, 20 February 20
Early returns indicate the Democratic battle in Nevada will be a close one.
With 26 percent of caucus sites reporting, Sanders is down three percent to Clinton at 48.1 percent to her 51.8 percent. Entrance polling indicates a strong turnout among new caucus-goers, however, which is a positive sign for Sanders' overall finish.
The first test for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a more racially diverse state, the results of today's caucuses in the state will provide a window into each candidate's strengths - or weaknesses - among core Democratic demographic groups.
While Clinton's campaign once saw the Western battleground state as an opportunity to start pulling away from Sanders, her team is nervously anticipating what is shaping up to be a close contest with the Vermont senator.
Meanwhile, after a week of bitter attacks, Republicans face off today in South Carolina's presidential primary, a contest that could determine Donald Trump's strength as a front-runner and help clarify whether a more mainstream politician will ever emerge to challenge him.
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Early exit polling indicates that the Democratic battle in South Carolina between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be a close one
Two-thirds of participants said it was their first time participating. This is a category that Sanders does better in, possibly foreshadowing the outcome of today's contests overall
The first test for Hillary Clinton, seen her today at a Harrah's in Las Vegas, and Bernie Sanders in a more racially diverse state, the results of today's caucuses in the state will provide a window into each candidate's strengths - or weaknesses - among core Democratic demographic groups
Almost twice as many caucus goers as 2008 say they are very liberal - another good sign for Bernie Sanders
According to ABC News, the exit polls in Nevada show a breakdown among predictable lines.
Sanders will win the bulk of caucus participants under the age of 45, Clinton will best him with voters in the next rung up and among women.
Two-thirds of participants said it was their first time participating. This is a category that Sanders does better in, possibly foreshadowing the outcome of today's contests overall. Almost twice as many caucus goers as 2008 say they are very liberal - another good sign for Sanders.
On the other hand, just four in 10 Democratic voters said the next president should pursue more liberal polices than Obama. Nearly 50 percent said they wanted a general continuation of Obama's policies.
More than a third of those who showed up to caucus today were black, Hispanic or non-white, NBC's entrance polling shows.
The contest between Clinton and Sanders has become closer than almost anyone expected.
Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist, has energized voters, particularly young people, with his impassioned calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and providing free tuition at public colleges and universities.
Clinton is hoping to offset Sanders' youth support by winning big majorities among blacks and Hispanics. She had eyed Nevada, where one-fourth of the population is Hispanic, as the first in a series of contests that would highlight that strength.
Yet Clinton's campaign has been downplaying expectations in Nevada in recent days. A victory for Sanders — or even a narrow loss to Clinton— would give his campaign a boost heading into the Democratic contests on Super Tuesday on March 1, when residents of 11 states vote in primary elections or caucuses.
Trump waves during a campaign stop yesterday in North Charleston. Today's contest will help clarify whether a more mainstream politician will ever emerge to challenge him
Clinton listens while her husband and former US president Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas yesterday. Clinton and Sanders are in a close race in Nevada - one her team thought until a few weeks ago she'd easily win
Democrats and Republicans will swap locations in the coming days. The Republican Party holds its caucuses in Nevada on Tuesday, while Democrats face off in South Carolina on Feb. 27.
For both parties, the 2016 election has revealed deep voter frustration with Washington and the influence of big money in the American political system. The public mood has upended the usual political order, leaving more traditional candidates scrambling to find their footing.
No candidate has shaken the political establishment more than Trump. He spent the week threatening one rival with a lawsuit, accusing former President George W. Bush of lying, and even tangling with Pope Francis on immigration — yet South Carolina is still seen as his state to lose in Saturday's voting.
'We have a movement going on, folks,' Trump told a 5,000-person crowd in Myrtle Beach on Friday. 'And we can't blow the movement. We have to make sure we get a big mandate. We have to go out tomorrow we have to go out and vote.'
For Trump, a victory in South Carolina could foreshadow strong showings in the collection of Southern states that vote on March 1.
Wins in those Super Tuesday contests could put the billionaire in a commanding position in the delegate count, which determines the nomination at the party's national convention.
If Clinton and Trump lose today, they will be considered front-runners no more
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has challenged Trump's conservative credentials. He is relying on thousands of volunteers to get out the vote and help him overtake the billionaire. But he's also fighting with Rubio, a fellow senator who threatens to drag down his support if he stays in the race
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has challenged Trump's conservative credentials. He is relying on thousands of volunteers to get out the vote and help him overtake Trump on Saturday, as well as in the Southern states that follow.
But a failure to top the real estate mogul here could puncture that strategy, though Cruz will still have more than enough money to run a long campaign.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are fighting to establish themselves as credible alternatives to Trump and Cruz, candidates some Republican leaders believe are unelectable in November.
Rubio got a bump this week that could push him up to the top of tonight's tally when South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley endorsed his campaign. It's put him back in the game in a race that two weeks ago he seemed all but destined to lose.
He seems to have rebounded after a dismal debate performance two weeks ago that contributed to a disappointing fifth place finish in the New Hampshire primary.
Bush hopes his deep family ties to South Carolina — his brother and father each won two primaries here — will be a lifeline for his struggling campaign.
While neither Bush nor Rubio is expected to win South Carolina, they're battling to finish ahead of one another — with the loser in that contest likely to face tough questions about his long-term viability.
Also in the mix is Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has low expectations in South Carolina and is hinging his White House bid on more moderate states that vote later in March, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has a small but loyal cadre of followers.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3455665/Republicans-face-S-Carolina-Dems-battle-Nevada.html#ixzz40kReURSq