Here are some numbers from the Research2000 poll of likely voters in Nevada, November 16-19:
70% of Democrats following the race now, with 30% “not too closely”.
19% of Democrats claim they will “definitely” caucus and 21% claim
they will “probably” do so. 60% are unlikely to caucus. Many in Nevada are new to the state, with a lot from California, and are not familiar with the caucus process, which in Nevada is complex.
In Iowa, a long time caucus state, only 15-20% of Democrats normally turn out.
One caucus blog is reporting that Hillary has overplayed her hand in Nevada by pissing off a lot of grassroots volunteers. The charge is that volunteers not approved by Hillary are being pushed aside as caucus chairs. Nevada Democratic voters may be looking to throw their support to Obama or Edwards, because of the heavy-handed Clinton tactics.
Obama has the best grassroots effort going in Nevada with support from many of those that previously supported Bill Clinton and then Al Gore.
This was reported by one Nevada caucus blog, “At most party events, the Obama campaign has no tables, no signs and no visible staff presence.” Are the Obama workers, as the blogger states, “deliberately keeping their organization below the radar. Or is it restricted to the predominantly African-American “westside” and North Las Vegas? Thats what the Democratic volunteers I talk to are thinking about.”
The blogger continues, “A variety of factors combine to make this state one of the most difficult places in the US to operate politically. In fact, one has to wonder whether the Democratic Party fully understood what it was agreeing to in August 2006, when it decided to anoint Nevada as an “early state”. Nevada is considered a “swing-state,” but except for Bill Clinton’s victories in 1992 and 1996, it voted Republican in every other Presidential election since 1980. Also, its current governor and junior senator are both Republicans. The tradition of political apathy fits neatly with the state’s economic mainstay. So, in gaming parlance, Nevada’s political elite, particularly Harry Reid and his son Rory, are playing “high stakes” with their state’s image and personal reputations. While the current odds do not favor Obama, in the end it may be his campaign that lends needed legitimacy to the Nevada caucus. One objective, which the Party’s senior elected official Senator Harry Reid wants is to ensure a successful caucus that enhances Nevada’s political importance. A flawed caucus would seriously damage the national standing of both the Nevada Democratic Party and Harry Reid. And his image is already suffering from a less-than stellar record of achievement to date as leader of a majority in the Senate that failed to deliver on its 2006 election mandate. The second objective is being pursued by Rory Reid, the senator’s son who is trying to carve out a larger space for himself in Nevada state politics (currently dominated by his father). Rory is State Campaign Chairman for Hillary Clinton, and his overriding objective is to get her elected. Rory Reid is ideally positioned as Commission Chairman for Clark County, home to most of the state’s population and the gaming industry centered in Las Vegas. He also perfectly epitomizes my theory that, in general (and with apologies to the many sincerely committed people with whom I worked in the Clinton Administration), Obama attracts idealists, while the Clintons attract opportunists.
The Nevada Democratic caucus could prove to be a national embarrassment to Harry Reid as he rolls the dice for greater national influence. Prediction: The Nevada caucus will be another Harry Reid failure, due to many new voters in Nevada, no history of strong caucus attendance, apathy, lack of overall caucus organization, a transient population, no sense of community. Look for low turnout. The state party has yet to name all the caucus polling sites!