In December, Trump’s doctor said his health was “astonishingly excellent,” which is also applicable to his campaign, thus far. Love him or hate him; Trump is winning, and across a wide swath of the GOP electorate.
Republicans are ready to do battle in the Silver State tonight, with the Donald expected to do tremendously well. The prohibitive frontrunner for the GOP nomination has been leading by double-digits since December. Yet, the Nevada is an unpredictable beast. As the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel and Philip Rucker reminded us, Mitt Romney nabbed Nevada in 2012, winning with 50 percent of the vote, but total participation was just eight percent of the state’s overall Republican electorate. They added that Trump has been holding rallies in the Reno and Las Vegas regions, top population centers, with limited ad buys; Cruz is trying to upset the polls by stoking voter anxiety over the federal lands issue (the government owns 85 percent of Nevada's land); and Rubio, who now leads in endorsements, is putting his cross-voter appeal to the test. As Christine noted, voters have four hours to caucus between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Pacific Time (so, yeah it’s going be a long night for us EST folk).
There are no thresholds, with all 30 delegates being proportionately allocated. Republicans will go to any of the 130-caucus sites across the state's 1,300 precincts. As with Iowa, a caucus chair is elected, followed by a speeches made by representatives for the candidates they’re backing, according to the National Journal. For Republicans, votes are cast on a secret ballot.
Here are the counties that should be watched (via NJ):
Clark County: This county, where Las Vegas and Henderson are located, is easily the largest in Nevada, so it’s nearly impossible to carry the state without winning here. In the 2012 caucuses, 72 percent of the GOP vote came from Clark County. Mitt Romney carried it comfortably in each of the past two contests.
Washoe County: Home to Reno, this is the second-most populous county in the state, and was Romney Country the last two times around. The area accounted for 27 percent of the Republican caucus electorate in 2012.
Nye County: This is the only county that Romney lost in both 2008 and 2012. Ron Paul carried it both times, so Ted Cruz, who has been working to make inroads with Libertarian leaning voters, particularly since Rand Paul’s exit from the race, needs a strong performance here.
Adelson Watch- Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife plan to caucus today, where the Wall Street Journal reported could possibly lead to an official endorsement of a candidate later this evening. Adelson has doled out millions to Republican candidates, but has kept his cash injections on a smaller scale–giving to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in 2014. The Journal added that the paper he recently bought, the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), but let’s watch for something more concrete.
Via NJ, Carson, Trump, and Rubio are, not surprisingly, in Nevada, though Rubio won’t be sticking around, as he’s heading to events in Michigan and Minnesota. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in Georgia; Sen. Sanders is in Norfolk, Virginia; and Hillary Clinton is holding forum in South Carolina, with five mothers from the Black Lives Matter movement who have lost loved ones to “gun violence and police incidents.”
- Sen. Rubio has acquired New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign email list
- Gov. Kasich told an attendee at a town hall in Kennesaw, Georgia, “I don’t know if my purpose is to be president,” when asked why the candidate doesn’t hit back at Trump, Rubio, and others.
- Dr. Ben Carson made a rather bizarre remark that President Obama was “raised white”:
“He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” said the world-renowned neurosurgeon, whose single mother worked three jobs – and occasionally relied on government aid – to elevate Carson and his older brother from the grinding poverty of ghetto life.
“I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but … he didn’t grow up like I grew up … Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”
Carson also suggested that what passes for racism now – in the age of Ferguson and Freddie Gray – isn’t comparable to the overt discrimination he encountered a half-century ago as a young man.
As for the Democrats, they’re primary in South Carolina is on Saturday, where it’s a mad dash for nonwhite voters. Clinton is heavily favored to win that contest.
Last Note: While the news of Cruz firing his communications director, Rick Tyler, for peddling a false narrative about an interaction between Sen. Marco Rubio and a Cruz staffer reading a Bible at a South Carolina Hampton Inn broke yesterday, it’ll be interesting to see how Nevada Republicans react. The notion that Cruz is running a dirty campaign still runs post-Iowa, where Carson cried foul over unscrupulous campaign tactics that might have cost him votes. In South Carolina, where Cruz’s loss has raised some red flags, most voters thought he ran an unfair campaign. So, that notion is sticking to Cruz. Let’s see if he’s able to shake it in Nevada.