November 15th, 2007
08:41 AM ET
15 years ago

The Nevada caucuses: a crap shoot

The candidates will square off in the Cox Pavilion Thursday night.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) - Campaign staffers, pols, and political junkies are all trying to game out the importance of the Democratic caucuses here in Nevada.

If one candidate (read Hillary Clinton) scoops up wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, will Nevada simply rubberstamp her march to victory? Or if Iowa and New Hampshire spit out different winners could the 11 days (sorry Michigan) between the presumed first-in-the-nation primary and the Silver State caucuses determine who wins the nomination before the race turns back East to South Carolina?

"If one of the candidates needs to get momentum or build momentum they are going to spend a lot of time here," says veteran Nevada political columnist and commentator Jon Ralston.

While it may not be the same attention they shower on Iowa, the Democratic candidates certainly have given Nevada some lovin' thus far. The CNN/Las Vegas Democratic Party Debate Thursday will mark New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s 19th day in the state. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards boasts three offices and will complete his 17th trip, 19th day, to Nevada by the end of this weekend. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s debate appearance will bring his trip tally to nine and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Delaware Joe Biden have each hit the state seven times. Obama has the most campaign offices, roughly 50 field organizers, and his campaign has conducted over 100 mock caucuses. Camp Clinton boasts three visits by the senator’s top surrogate and husband, former President Bill Clinton, and the endorsement of Rory Reid, son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"I think Barack Obama has a real good organization here," says Ralston. "I think he has a chance to do well here. I think Bill Richardson, who started early on has a chance. Clinton has the endorsement of most of the major politicians and she looks inevitable here, but again it’s a caucus. It’s unpredictable. I think anybody who makes predictions is just whistling in the dark, because they’ve never done it before. They have absolutely no idea what turnout is going to be, and who is going to turn out, and it’s very difficult to do polling under those circumstances. So I think it’s a crap shoot."

No pun intended.

- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (11 Responses)

    Please tell me why I should vote for another Democrat again. I voted 100% Democrat last year and have seen only failure, incompetence, finger pointing, fear of this president, and whining. If I want continued incompetence and arrogance, I'd vote Republican. Where is the light?

    November 15, 2007 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  2. Leroy Stephens Evansville Indiana

    Sin city is the Ideal place for all liars to congregate and it is of little reassurance to the legal voting “we the people” that any thing good can come of this.
    There is enough gambling going on in washing DC to choke this nation to death and so I suppose it is obvious we should pick and choose the candidates at this location for it bears great similarity to that of DC.
    WE reap what we sow and what we chose to sow is very well displayed at this time in that location.
    This Nation needs some candidates they can vote FOR rather than vote against and that requires third parties independently designed to run on funds unrelated to Big businesses and corporations and run on a platform of issues related to the concerns the legal working class Americans and fair elections and voting equipment unrelated to Corporate America or their control.
    Cut the crap out and of what is going on in Nevada and the place would be a desert and the source of crap would be diminished greatly.

    November 15, 2007 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  3. Mike, Owosso, MI

    Can Ralston read poll numbers? How can he think Obama has a good chance? Clinton is and has been killing everyone in the Nevada polls since they started polling.

    November 15, 2007 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  4. Hillarylover in SA

    I know Clinton will do great on tonights debate. I understand what is going on w/Obama and Edwards. They are simply playing good cop bad cop against Clinton. Edwards looks like a fool. At least Obama shows some class. She's winning. Take it like real men stand up straight and take the beating. C-L-I-N-T-O-N 2008.

    November 15, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  5. Hillarylover in SA

    By the way what about this: Barack Obama, who's been scolding Hillary Rodham Clinton for not hastening the release of records from her time as first lady, says he can't step up and produce his own records from his days in the Illinois state Senate. He says he hasn't got any. Now that I find very very interesting.

    November 15, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. John Pikeville Kentucky

    Bill Richardson is clearly the best candidate. None of the frontrunners has his experience or record of success. He is a two-term governor of a state that is improving. He was UN Ambassador and still gets called on for foreign service like recovering the remains of the Pueblo from North Korea. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times. None of the Dems or Repubs can match that.

    November 15, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. tk, cbus, IN

    For those who state Obama, or any other candidate besides HIllary does not have a chance to win Nevada simply do not understand why Nevada is a "crap shoot". Nevada's caucuses have never played a serious role in the process. People simply do not caucus or know how. So you may have Hillary dominating polls, but it is really going to come down to each candidate's ground game. Who is willing to drive around the desert for hours picking up their supporters ad taking them to the caucus, and who has the manpower to do so. If Obama picks up Iowa, which I honestly believe is going to happen, Nevada will become key and if Obama has the staff this article asserts, I would not count him out. The nomination is not going to be won until February 5th and it could go beyond that.

    November 15, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. Kevin,SF New Mexico

    VOTE REPUBLICAN!! Better for USA!

    November 15, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Dan, TX

    Posted By Hillarylover in SA : November 15, 2007 9:26 am

    Barack Obama has an entirely open record of his activities as a State Senator. What did he do as a State Senator, what's his experience as an elected official in the Illinois and US Senate. Look at his record.

    Hillary says she has "experience" as first lady. Where's the record??? The ONLY think I know she did as first lady was do a TERRIBLE job on health care. Did she do anything that can be considered giving her experience? If so, let's see the records, if not, don't tell us being first lady is experience.

    Obama's record as State Senator is fully in the public light, just look. Let's see ANY evidence that Clinton gained any experience by being first lady.

    November 15, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Steve

    I love how CNN has already handed Hillary the win in their minds, as if polls are somehow infallible. Obama has inspired young people to a greater extent than any candidate in decades, so you'll pardon me if I consider the cell-phone-excluding polls to be useless data.

    Re: the argument about records:
    Look, Obama can't produce any documents related to what happened in meetings or other such unimportant details, because he didn't need to keep such records at the time. He never expected to be a Senator, let alone a candidate in this election. But the point is, everything he got accomplished in the state legislature, he was an integral part of. And he certainly did get a lot done. Whereas with Hillary, the argument is that she has behind-the-scenes experience, but can't prove it. Obama's experience is already proven; the records would only drive the point home. But Clinton could be withholding the information to hide something, perhaps that she didn't actually do much, or that she had to have constant oversight.

    In other words, the situations are very, very different.

    November 15, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Hillarylover in SA

    ON OBAMA: I don't have — I don't maintain — a file of eight years of work in the state Senate because I didn't have the resources available to maintain those kinds of records," he said "Most of those guys do keep this stuff, especially the favorable stuff. They've all got egos," said Taylor Pensoneau, a historian who has written about Illinois legislators and governors and worked with them as a lobbyist for the coal industry. "It goes in scrapbooks or maybe boxes. I don't think it's normal practice to say it's all discarded."


    November 15, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |