(Updates throughout with additional polling data from Edison Research)
By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK, Feb 22 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders appears to have an early edge in the Nevada Democratic caucus with the largest share of initial support from Hispanics, union families and white college-educated women, according to polling agency Edison Research.
Edison, which compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters, said its polling of early voters and state caucus-goers shows Sanders "leads in the first preference" vote.
Nevada will award Democratic delegates after party members state their preferences at hundreds of caucus locations around the state. Many Democrats may eventually switch their choice during the caucus meeting if the candidate they support does not garner enough interest.
Here are some highlights from the Edison poll, which was based on interviews with 2,496 Nevada Democrats, including about 1,780 as they entered early voting sites earlier in the week and another 716 on Saturday at 30 locations around the state:
**Among Hispanics, 54% said they were going to support Sanders ahead of the caucuses. Hispanics make up nearly one-third of the state's population.
**Among those caucus-goers who are members of a labor union or have family members in a union, 36% said they planned to caucus for Sanders. About one in four said they were part of a union family.
**Among white, college-educated women - a voting block seen as key to Democrats' chances for victory over Trump in the November general election - 24% said they planned to caucus for Sanders, compared with 18% for Klobuchar, 17% for Buttigieg, 17% for Warren and 12% for Biden.
** Most of Nevada's caucus-goers came with their minds made up. Eighty-four percent of Democratic caucus-goers said they made their pick for the party's presidential nomination more than a few days before the caucus.
** 51% of those participating in the Democratic caucus are doing so for the first time. A record number of Democrats are expected to show up at the Nevada caucuses, in part because of population growth in the state and also the party's decision to allow residents to vote early this year for the first time.
** 64% say that when picking a candidate to support, they are thinking mostly about that person's electability instead of whether the candidate agrees with them on major issues.
** 63% said they support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan. That initiative, also known as Medicare for All, is a signature issue for Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was criticized earlier this month by the state's 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union in what was seen as a boost for more moderate Democrats who are still in the race.
** 43% of Democratic Nevada caucus-goers say healthcare is the issue that mattered most to them when deciding which candidate to support. Another 25% said it was climate change, 18% said it was income inequality and 9% said foreign policy.
** 66% of Democratic caucus-goers said they considered themselves to be liberal. Another 34% said they were moderates and 3% were conservative.
Edison will update its results later in the day after the caucuses have ended. (Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)
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