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Know the West

A turning point in Nevada

Lessons from the Sanders campaign.


For the first time in history, Latino voters will comprise the largest non-white voting bloc in the 2020 election. In Nevada, the Democratic caucuses in February were the first major test of candidates’ appeal to Latinos, who make up 30% of the state’s population. Candidates including Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders spent a considerable amount of time and resources courting the Latino vote.

Though Sanders would go on to lose the Democratic Party’s nomination to Joe Biden, he saw a significant victory in Nevada, winning 51% of the Latino vote, thanks to a sustained effort led by Latinos themselves. His campaign is now being seen as a turning point in mobilizing the Latino vote.

In Nevada, there was an intentional plan, with resources being spent in the Latino community, according to Chuck Rocha, a political consultant and Bernie Sanders’ senior campaign advisor. “When you hire your first staffer, you make sure they are from the community. And then you start spending resources over months and months to talk to that demographic about your candidate,” he said. “That’s the perfect storm for having that amazing win that you saw.” 

These photos were made in collaboration with the PBS film, Latino Vote: Dispatches from the Battleground, directed by Bernardo Ruiz, and scheduled to air on local PBS stations beginning Oct. 6.