Nevadans will experience a political phenomenon previously unknown to this part of the United States in the coming months. All eyes will be focused on the Silver State as we decide the best candidate for President of the United States on the Democratic ticket.
Top presidential candidates will be formulating teams and making numerous visits to Nevada to gain support. During the gubernatorial elections, the state saw the beginning of this process as numerous contenders made their way to Nevada to support Dina Titus, Democratic nominee. Organized staff and money were strategically placed into local races and the state’s Democratic Party from John Edwards, to Senator Hillary Clinton and Iowa’s Governor Tom Vilsack.
Nevada’s five electoral votes will not significantly influence the general election for president, but by virtue of having such an early presidential caucus, Nevada voters could help one candidate gain important early momentum, and might be the key to capturing the nomination.
Both party’s primaries will be strongly contested, since President George Bush is in his last term. However, most political analysts expect the Democratic ticket to be the most interesting early on.
Clinton, a heavy favorite and prodigious fundraiser, has formally declared. She will have the help of her husband, Bill Clinton, who won in Nevada both times he ran for president. In addition, as a former world leader, he has many favors that he could use to help his wife and his powerful friends in Nevada.
Former Senator John Edwards had a presence during the most recent elections, as did Vilsack and Senator Joe Biden, all of whom recently announced their intention to seek the nomination.
Another contender who has everyone excited is Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Charismatic and energetic, Obama doesn’t have the campaign or political experience of the other contenders, but he identifies very well with average voters and has an “American Dream” type of story to tell.
The Nevada caucus system is unlike the standard political election. Instead of voters going to the polls and casting ballots, they meet in caucuses, face-to-face, and choose their favorite candidate. These caucuses will be held throughout the state.
In order to influence voters in this type of system, candidates must have extensive grassroots operations in place. Political ads don’t matter as much in this type of political forum, which means candidates must spend as much time as they can getting to know community leaders who can provide them with a large number of voters.
Labor unions and grassroots organizations, such as AARP, will play a large role as they are able to support an individual candidate, and hopefully affect the outcome.
It will be an interesting experience for voters in Nevada, as we finally take center stage, in potentially assisting in the election of the next President of the United States.