Before presidential candidates arrive in Illinois next month there are a few more hoops to jump through on the campaign trail. One of them is the Nevada caucus on Jan. 19. Since The Hound doesn't live in the Silver State, he is turning to his correspondent in the high desert of Amargosa Valley, many clicks north of Las Vegas, to enlighten us on what to expect in the Nevada caucus.
Most of the Democrat voters are in Clark County, and to a lesser extent, Washoe County (Reno). There are a few other isolated pockets, like Elko, where Democrats have traction. Organized labor – the Culinary Workers Union and Service Workers Union --- is the dominant special interest group, and they are backing Obama. But the state’s Democrat machine, such as it is, is behind Hillary.
"As with most caucuses, conventional wisdom predicts that only the hardcore party faithful will turn out, so I’m guessing the unions have some advantage in terms of educating and organizing their ranks to encourage participation – the Democrat electorate is heavily skewed towards California transplants, who are known to be fairly apathetic.
"But Californians have always been particularly enamored with the Clintons, so that could possibly energize those voters. Hillary also seems to score well with Hispanics, who make up 23 percent of the state’s population, and probably close to 30 percent in Las Vegas and Reno.
"The last authoritative poll, which was taken six weeks ago, showed Clinton with a big lead. But that was long before Obama’s showing in Iowa and the union endorsements he’s received, so it’s probably a much tighter race at this point."
Well said for a political tyro, The Hound thinks.
The 60,000-strong Culinary Workers Union includes members working in Las Vegas and Reno casinos and other locations in the Las Vegas area, and members working in other areas ---such as serving cocktails and housekeeping --- besides kitchen positions, according to the union Web site and the SEIU in Nevada, which has 17,500 members, the group said, and nearly two-thirds of them are registered to vote. The union represents health care and public service employees across the state, according to SEIU-Nevada's Web site.
But union endorsements don't always mean victory, The Hound recalls. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and SEIU both endorsed Howard Dean for president in during the early 2004 presidential cycle. We all remember President Dean's last four years in the White House.