2006 election season is in full swing, and Democrats stand poised to win
key races in Nevada, the U.S. House and Senate, and across the country.
At the same time, the 2008 presidential primary season is just over the
horizon. Without a favorite son in the presidential race, Nevada
has an opportunity to play a major role well into the future.
Nevada is an outstanding selection as an early caucus state because
it possesses the benefits of retail politics found in Iowa and New Hampshire.
At the same time, it equally highlights other key electoral factors such
as union density, racial and geographical diversity, and most of all, the
ability to deliver electoral votes to the eventual Democratic nominee.
With one of the highest union densities in the nation and the highest
in the Western region, Nevada will provide an opportunity to discuss issues
important to working families across the country.
Minority populations often reflect issues important to our party and
nation. Nevada has an incredibly diverse electorate with minorities
representing 31 percent of the voting age population. An early caucus
in Nevada will ensure that issues important to racially and ethnically
diverse communities are thoroughly debated by candidates running for the
Nevada is also a battleground state with significant urban, exurban
and rural populations, as well as populations immigrating from surrounding
Western, Rocky Mountain and Southwestern states. It is a state that
President Bill Clinton carried in 1992 and 1996. In 2004, John Kerry
lost by only 2.5 percent, while Democrats won in down-ballot races.
An earlier push and more attention to core party and Western issues
could make the difference in the next presidential election – not only
in Nevada but in the Western region.
Nevada best represents the three criteria set out by the DNC for an
early presidential caucus: economic diversity, racial and ethnic
diversity and geographic diversity:
* Nevada has the highest union membership in the desert Southwest
and is one of only two states in the region (the other is New Mexico) to
see an increase in union membership in the past year.
* Nevada's voting age population is 31 percent minority.
* In Southern Nevada, the populations of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas
and Henderson have increased 99 percent, 201 percent and 107.5 percent
respectively between 1990 and 2004.
* In Northern Nevada, the population of Washoe County, including
Reno, increased 49.5 percent between 1990 and 2004, resulting in a more
ethnically diverse population. Minorities now make up 27 percent
of Washoe County.
* Population in rural counties of Nevada has increased 49.2 percent
between 1990 and 2004.
* Nevada is home to the third-largest population of veterans in the
United States, making up 16 percent of the state's population. 243,000
of these veterans are within voting age population, representing 17.4 percent
* 21.3 percent of households in Nevada have at least one person
age 65 years old or older.
* Nevada's regions vary greatly. From the urban population centers
in Clark County to the high-desert cities of Northern Nevada, to the rural
communities (and attitudes) found everywhere in between, any successful
candidate will have to possess the full campaign repertoire.
Nevada Democratic Presidential Selection Implementation
There is no change in law or rule required for Nevada to hold an earlier caucus. With limited exception, the Nevada Democratic Party controls the process and is governed by a DNC-approved Delegate Selection Plan.
In Nevada, Democrats select their presidential candidate preference through a closed “caucus” system. Every four years, each Nevadan who, a.) is registered to vote and, b.) has selected their political party affiliation as “Democrat” is eligible to participate in the presidential selection process.
Nevada law calls for precinct caucuses for the purpose of selecting delegates to the county, state and then national convention. However, the details of how the caucuses are run and when they are held, with limited exception, are left to each of the political parties to self-determine. (NRS Chapter 293)
In 2004, Nevada Democrats chose to move their precinct caucuses to February
14, a full month sooner than in previous years. Turnout exceeded all expectations
as Nevada Democrats realized that their vote mattered and thus participated
in the caucuses. The turnout in 2004 was anywhere from five to 10 times
higher than in previous years. We anticipate a proportionate increase in
participation again in 2008 when Nevada Democrats understand the role they
would play in the selection of our nominee.
|Clark County||282,538 71.7%||
|Rural Counties||45,361 11.5%||
|Washoe County||66,014 16.8%||
The Three-Tiered System:
In the Nevada Democratic Presidential Caucus, Democrats select their personal preference as to which candidate should be the presidential nominee and then elect
delegates at the precinct, county and state level through a caucus system. Nevada is a three-tiered caucus system, which means that a delegate to the national convention must attend all three meetings.
At the precinct level, registered Democrats attend a precinct caucus to meet and discuss platform and, as in Iowa, elect delegates committed to presidential candidates.
Precinct caucuses have traditionally been held in one location per county. However, based on the record turnout in 2004, precinct caucuses will be held in multiple regional locations in Clark and Washoe counties in 2008.
Delegates elected at the precinct level then attend the county convention where they must run and be elected to be delegates at the state convention. National delegates are elected at the state convention.
• At the precinct level, state law provides for the election of one
delegate per 50 registered Democratic voters in a precinct to go on to
the county level. Delegate
presidential preference selection would be binding.
• At the county level, state law provides for the election of one delegate
per 150 registered Democratic voters in the county to go on to the state
where the national delegates are elected. The proportion of delegates selected to the state and then to the national convention would mirror the percentage
results for presidential candidates at the precinct level.
• In 2004, Nevada Democrats sent a total of 32 delegates and four alternates to the national convention.
Historically, by party rules, Nevada’s three-tiered system has been
non-binding until the selection at the state convention. Should Nevada
be selected as an early
caucus, the rules would be changed internally to allow for a binding election of delegates at the precinct level to determine the final proportion of delegates for
each presidential candidate to go to the national convention.
Funding and Implementation:
Should Nevada be selected as a new early caucus state, immediately the state party would:
• Change the precinct caucuses to a binding presidential preference ensuring the proportion of delegates to be selected through other levels of the process
• Hire professional staff to evaluate infrastructure and make immediate recommendations on improvements or investments necessary to ensure a smooth process
• Set up a special account and begin an aggressive fundraising effort to support county parties and underwrite costs
• Begin training county parties on running nationally scrutinized caucuses
Because the precinct caucuses can be paid for with nonfederal funds,
the broad support for Nevada as an early caucus state among key industries
constituencies presents significant funding opportunities.