Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dems battle it out in Nevada

Vigorous last-minute campaigning defined the final hours leading up to today's Nevada caucuses.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in a close race, which will be decided most likely depending on which candidate's GOTV machine is more successful. Edwards is trailing in the polls. The recent court decision opened up a huge number of hospitality workers to caucus, which will benefit Obama. Clinton has the endorsement of the smaller teacher's union, but historically teachers are more politically involved than hotel and restaurant workers. So the election may depend on how many people from each group actually join in the caucuses.

The Democratic caucuses begin at 1:30PM EST (11:30AM in Nevada), and returns should start coming in within the following hours. By late this afternoon we'll probably have firm results for both parties. Recent polls shows Republican Mitt Romney has a significant lead over rivals Mike Huckabee and John McCain.

McCain is expected to easily win in today's South Carolina primary, which is typically a very important contest for the Republicans. The South Carolina Democratic primary will be next Saturday. Why the two parties couldn't agree on a single date probably is the result of the primary schedule shuffling that went on late last year.

If I was going to bet, I'd say Obama will win it in Nevada by a slim margin over Clinton, with Edwards showing a strong 3rd place.

There's been a lot of speculation by national political pundits that caucuses, which are public events, benefit Barack Obama compared to the regular primaries, as the New Hampshire results appear to support. I don't necessarily agree with that, but today's caucus results could add substance to that theory.

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