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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Mysterious Nevada

In the tight Democratic presidential nominating contest, the first-ever Nevada Caucuses, which were pretty much ignored by political observers in the long run-up to IA and NH, have suddenly been invested with great significance. An Obama win there, we are told, will interrupt the Clinton “comeback,” virtually guarantee Obama a SC win, and make the whole race dead even going into the Feb. 5 mega-event. A Clinton win, by contrast, continues her “big mo.” And one poll showing a virtual three-way tie in Nevada has given new hope to the Edwards campaign that it can survive and then even thrive outside the Clinton-Obama crossfire.
The problem is: nobody really has a clear idea about participation in the Caucuses, since there’s no history to cite.
For a good impressionistic account of the confused situation on the ground in Nevada, I recommend a MyDD diary by desmoulins, an Edwards organizer from Las Vegas.

Less than 100 hours now to the NV caucus and turnout is still a massive question mark, that will determine the outcome. All year, I’ve felt this will be a low-turnout affair driven by activists combined by whatever campaign had the resources and organization to drag in casual, non-activist supporters. All year, I’d hoped that would be Edwards, with a combination of long-term organization, a strong message, momentum from Iowa, and the support of SEIU and Culinary. All year, I’d presumed that if Obama got those breaks instead, as he did in the end, he’d surge past and win handsomely. And all year, I’ve presumed that the Clinton support was very soft and would melt away when we entered the final 2 weeks, and people started to focus intensely on the race.
I still have no idea if any of that will prove to be prescient or, as is usually the case, I’m way, way off base. In short, its exciting as all get-out to be in a race that nobody has any clue how its going to go Saturday.

The diary also has a deep-in-the-weeds account of the last-minute teachers’ union lawsuit aimed at invalidating the at-large Caucus sites being set up on the Las Vegas Strip to make it easier for casino workers to participate (thought to be a large boon to Obama).
If you recall the accounts (here and elsewhere) of the confusion surrounding Caucus Night in Iowa, a place where Caucus procedures are a venerable science, you can imagine the chaos likely to ensue in Nevada on Saturday.

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