WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- With votes still being counted, Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from the state of Vermont and a Democratic presidential candidate, obtained 47.1 percent of the county delegates on Saturday and was declared by U.S. media winner of the Democratic caucuses in the state of Nevada.
"In Nevada we have just put together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition which is going to not only win in Nevada, it's going to sweep this country," a victorious Sanders told a crowd of supporters in San Antonio, Texas, expressing confidence that he will win the vote seeking Democratic nomination.
Sanders, who also ranks first among Democratic candidates in national polls, held on to the lead in Nevada as 22 percent of the precincts reported county delegate votes, which are calculated based on two rounds of popular voting. Former Vice President Joe Biden came in second with 23.3 percent.
Once the front-runner in the Democratic field, Biden suffered disappointing results in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Though losing Nevada again, he seemed to be in a good mood when addressing supporters in Las Vegas.
"You all did it for me, You all did it," said the 77-year-old. "Now we're going on to South Carolina and winning and then we're going to take this back." South Carolina is considered a watershed the former vice president cannot afford to lose.
Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, advanced to the third place with 13.4 percent of county delegates, surpassing Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren's 9 percent. Billionaire and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer trailed Warren with 3.7 percent.
In remarks made to supporters in Las Vegas, Buttigieg presented a tough-worded argument against nominating Sanders as the Democratic presidential candidate to take on incumbent President Donald Trump.
"Before we rush to nominate Senator Sanders as our one shot to take on this president, let's take a sober look at the consequences," Buttigieg said. "Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans."
Also competing in the Nevada caucuses are Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, who got 3.3 percent as of press time, and Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman representing Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, who only received 0.1 percent of delegate votes.
"We have a great team down there, still working hard," Klobuchar said in a speech to supporters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "They're counting the votes, but as usual, I think we have exceeded expectations."
A total of 36 delegates are up for grabs on caucus day in Nevada, with an additional 12 "superdelegates" automatically entering the Democratic National Convention to be held later this year.
The Nevada Democratic Party is expected to announce three sets of results late in the day. Voters' first preference of candidates is determined by the results of the initial round of caucusing. If voters' first choice doesn't cross the threshold -- usually 15 percent -- they will have to realign with others to choose a viable contender.
The second round of caucusing indicates the final preference, in which all the candidates chosen are viable. The third set of results to be announced is the county delegates, which resemble the electoral college in the general election.
Nevada is the third state to vote for a Democratic nominee to challenge Trump. Previously, Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses with a razor-thin edge against Sanders, who prevailed in the New Hampshire primary.
On Saturday, the Nevada Republican Party voted to allocate all of its 25 delegates to Trump.
"Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada," Trump wrote in a tweet commenting on results of the Nevada Democratic caucuses.
Mocking the "weak" results of Biden and others, Trump said there was "no way" that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who skipped the Nevada race, would recover from his poor debate performance in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
"Congratulations Bernie," the president said. "Don't let them take it away from you!"