Bernie Sanders’s side got the low card, and Pete Buttigieg’s team broke the tie.
At the Nevada caucuses, if two candidates end up with a tie after two rounds of voting, the winner is determined by drawing a card out of a card deck. High card wins, of course.
Accounts from reporters and election workers on the ground indicate that at several of the many caucus sites around the state on Saturday, participants had to resort to cards because of a tie. It’s a Vegas spin on the tie-breaking process that every state has for its elections and caucuses.
Here are the full rules for a Nevada caucus card draw, via Vox’s Andrew Prokop:
- Deck of cards must be shuffled at least seven times by precinct chair or site lead
- Jokers and extra cards removed
- Suit order: spades highest, then hearts, diamonds, clubs
- Aces are high
It appears to have happened several times on Saturday. But even a handful of card draws like this would determine a very, very small number of the delegates that will be won at the caucuses.
Winning a caucus site with a good card draw means winning more county convention delegates, which may ultimately mean the candidate wins more delegates for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. That is the objective of the whole primary: A candidate must win more than half of the nearly 4,000 delegates up for grabs across 50 states and a handful of territories to win the nomination before the convention this summer.
A small number of those delegates are going to be won through card draws, coin flips, and pulling a name out of a hat. At the Iowa caucuses, they would flip a coin; for a three-way tie, they drew a name out of a hat. (Virginia had to pull a name out of a hat because of a tie in a 2017 state legislative race that actually determined control of the state house.)
We saw the card draw again in Reno on Saturday.
If you want to know exactly the Nevada caucuses are conducted, Prokop has it covered:
It looks early on caucus day like Sanders will perform strongly in Nevada, probably on his way to an expected victory. But his delegate majority won’t be won at the above caucus site in Reno. You can’t win on a two-card.