Before the Nevada Legislature adjourned its last session sine die, Hillary Clinton’s Campaign began organizing here in Nevada. Shortly after Bernie Sanders announced his Presidential Campaign, he began what would become a series of regular visits to Nevada to help build “the political revolution”. But why are they coming here? Why has Nevada become so critical in picking our next President?
You can thank Senator Harry Reid (D) for starters. In 2005, he seized opportunity when the Democratic National Committee sought to solidify an early state nominating calendar. Thanks to our diversity and our evolution from a mostly Republican state to a now Democratic leaning swing state, we were given official “First in the West” status beginning in 2008. Remember how that went? The rest is history.
To an extent, Hillary Clinton wants to repeat that history. She did win Nevada after all… Or did she? While Clinton won more county-level delegates than Barack Obama, he actually won more national-level delegates thanks to an allocation formula that gives extra weight to Rural Nevada.
As the 2016 contest is quickly becoming a series of battles for delegates, we can see why Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders have aggressive ground games across the state. We may giggle at the thought of sex workers organizing to caucus, but those sex workers may just provide the margin of victory this Saturday.
In Reno last Saturday, I sat just feet away from Bernie Sanders answering questions on a broad range of topics, from Native American tribal land rights to immigrant civil rights. In Las Vegas the next day, I stood just feet away from Hillary Clinton throughout the day as she met with Nevadans, chatted with them, and snapped selfies with them. In the past six months, Secret Service security checkpoints have become routine for me and other local journalists covering the caucus as both the campaigns have regularly sent the candidates and top-level surrogates to emcee house parties and launch canvasses.
So what will happen Saturday? That may just be the greatest mystery of our time… At least until Saturday afternoon. Because there’s such a dearth of reliable polling, and because we are a caucus state that allows same-day voter registration and requires a marathon of voter participation on the Democratic side, it’s difficult to fully gauge even the breadth of the electorate who will show up at caucus sites throughout the state.
I’ve spoken with several insiders who still sense Hillary Clinton has the edge this weekend, but there’s far more doubt about the final outcome now than there was when this campaign began. The enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders is real, and his campaign has been aggressive in playing catch-up since his Nevada team began operating on all cylinders last November. Nonetheless Clinton’s team has been organizing here since April, has been nurturing relationships that go back years, and has been savvy in reaching out to diverse communities throughout the state. In many ways, we’ve seen the Democratic Party at its best when these two campaigns have been building their respective machines.
So go ahead and giggle all you want at our Hookers for Hillary, Bands for Bernie, campaigning in casinos, and raucous caucus system. We in Nevada have a unique role in choosing our next President. Depending on how this all plays out, we may have the last laugh come November.
Once upon a time, Andrew Davey raised quite a bit of hell as a Liberal OC contributor. Thanks to his “on-the-job training” here, he launched a blogging career in Nevada that occasionally involves Secret Service security checks and Twitter blockage from a certain state legislator. He’s now Contributing Editor at LetsTalkNevada.com