If you’ve been paying any attention to political news this past year, you might have caught on to the fact that the race for the 2016 presidential election is a little bit different compared to previous years.
In the left corner of the ring, a candidate who openly called himself a Democratic socialist at the start of his campaign has gained so much momentum in his call for a political revolution that he is now at about even odds in many states with his rival candidate, who some political critics in 2015 claimed had “already won” a year before the general election.
In the right corner, a multi-billionaire who captured the attention of the media with his highly controversial statements, a world-renowned brain surgeon and four other candidates ranging from former governors to tea party senators viciously and unapologetically fight tooth and nail for the Republican nomination.
To try to make sense of an unprecedented election cycle as it pertains to western states and to college students, Collegian News Editor Sady Swanson and I, the assistant news editor, will be traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, for five days to cover the events leading up to and the results of the Nevada Democratic and Republican caucuses.
Businessman Donald Trump leads the Republican field by 13 points at 33 percent of Nevada Republicans, according to a poll conducted by Gravis Marketing in December 2015, with Sen. Ted Cruz following at 20 percent.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are, for the second time in this early stage of the race, almost exactly tied in the polls. In the Iowa caucuses, the first state to report primary results, Clinton came out only .3 percent ahead of Sanders. Going into Nevada, according to a poll conducted by TargetPoint Consulting, the two candidates are dead even, each holding 45 percent of likely Democratic voters.
Nevada will be the first state in the west to report its primary results, possibly helping to predict how other states in the region will vote.
Some political analysts have said Sanders’ landslide victory in New Hampshire caused worry within the Clinton campaign — and that Nevada will be the first state to show which Democratic candidate has more broad appeal among the Democratic voter base. The Democratic Party has 33 delegates, with caucuses taking place on Saturday Feb. 20.
The Republican candidates have less to worry about in Nevada and are focusing their efforts in South Carolina, where GOP caucuses will also take place Saturday, Feb. 20. However, Republican candidates will share 34 delegates, appropriated proportionally according to results of the state-wide caucus.
Fear and Loathing?
…not quite, as we do not plan to go around dropping radios into bathtubs at the peak of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
There is a lot of work to do during our 5-day visit to Las Vegas. Sady and I plan to work with the University of Las Vegas, the various candidates’ campaigns and political groups across the state to bring as much student-oriented and relevant-to-Colorado coverage as possible. We hope the Colorado State University and Fort Collins community will follow us as we try to make sense of what may be simultaneously the most bizarre and the most impactful election cycle of our lifetimes.
Follow us on our Twitter accounts for more information and for a live feed of our stay in Las Vegas. Coverage begins Friday Feb. 19.