Nevada presidential caucuses 2020: Democrats anxious to avoid another Iowa-like debacle

The 'First in West' battle will take place on February 22 where the likes of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will look to make a comeback. The GOP, on the other hand, has canceled its Nevada caucuses


                            Nevada presidential caucuses 2020: Democrats anxious to avoid another Iowa-like debacle
People wait to cast their votes for the Nevada Democratic presidential caucuses (Getty Images)

The US will go to its next caucuses of this election season this Saturday (February 22) though only the Democratic Party will witness them as the Republicans have canceled their event to make the road easier for President Donald Trump.

Since 2008, the caucuses in the Silver State have been scheduled early in the nomination process and it is the first state in the West to vote to pick a nominee. The Hispanic-dominated and labor-based state gained electoral importance following the shift from a late presidential primary to a caucus held early. 

Caucuses started in Nevada in 1981. In 2008, the Democratic National Convention gave Nevada the official ‘First in the West’ status showing the growing importance of the region. 

Democrats are cautious after Iowa caucuses results debacle

The upcoming Democratic caucuses, however, also give birth to an apprehension particularly after the inaugural caucuses in Iowa on February 3 was a messy one. Results came out days later, leaving the party embarrassed. Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg narrowly defeated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the caucuses eventually. The Nevada Democratic Party, however, dumped the idea of using an app to declare the results after the Iowa debacle. Nevada Democrats Executive Director Alana Mounce told the New York Times: “We are not using an app, we are not using something you can download on your phone” although it was not clear what would be the alternative plan, the Times said. Party volunteers and the candidates’ campaigns are worried about the system that was hastily put in place to replace the faulty app system, the Washington Post said in a report and the state Democrats have been slammed for not communicating the same with the campaigns and volunteers. 

According to a report in Politico, Nevada Democrats bought iPads for the caucus site volunteers to use and the results would be entered via Google Forms to inform the state party. 

The Nevada caucuses are significant since the state is not a white-dominated one like Iowa and New Hampshire and more diverse which will put to test the candidates’ ability. The state has 36 pledged national convention delegates for the Democrats to be claimed.

Early voting started in Democratic caucuses on February 15

In Nevada, where early voting started on February 15, the process is not too different from that in Iowa except one difference. The state introduced early voting for the Democrats this year. During the early voting, people will rank the candidates on a paper ballot. According to the Nevada Democratic Party, over 26,000 people took part in the first two days of early voting. The big test, however, lies on Saturday, February 22. The candidates need to get at least 15 percent of the vote at a caucus site to be considered “viable”. If they fall short of that, their supporters either try to convince the fellow voters to join the candidate to help him/her cross the line. Or else, they can decide to caucus for the next preferred candidate. The candidates are alloted delegates based on how many voters they have. 

Hillary Clinton has won Nevada caucuses twice between 2008 and 2016

Looking at past Democratic caucuses in Nevada, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton beat former president Barack Obama by over five percent in 2008 but the latter ended up getting one delegate more than the former. In 2012, Obama won in Nevada unopposed as the incumbent president while in 2016, Hillary won it again, this time against Sanders who she defeated by over five percentage points and as many delegates. 

Sanders, though, is doing well this time. The veteran Democrat won the NH primary and according to a February 14 poll conducted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and AARP, Sanders was found leading with 25 percent of support. Former vice president Joe Biden, who has done poorly in both Iowa and NH, received 18 percent support while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren got 15 percent support. Billionaire Tom Steyer got 11 percent support. 

For GOP, Mitt Romney won Nevada in 2008, 2012

In 2008, Mitt Romney, who hails from neighboring Utah, got 51 percent support in the Republican caucuses in Nevada while John McCain, the eventual GOP nominee, got less than 13 percent support and finished third. In 2012, too, Romney won the Nevada caucuses with 50 percent support. In 2016, Trump won the battle with 46 percent of votes, defeating his nearest opponent Marco Rubio by 22 points. 

Trump was set to address a rally in Nevada on Friday, February 21, despite the cancelation of the caucuses. The Nevada GOP voted to cancel the presidential nomination contest in September last year as the party’s pundits feel that would save its time and money. 

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