Clinton leads Nevada polls, Latino vote hotly contested among candidates

Erik Petrovich

Editors Note: The Collegian sent two editors to Las Vegas, Nevada to cover the Republican and Democratic caucuses before the campaigns come to Colorado on March 1. This piece is part of a series of articles produced during the five days they spent traveling in and around Sin City. Follow the Collegian for continuous coverage of the 2016 election.

LAS VEGAS, NV — On Saturday, Feb. 20, registered democrats in Nevada will travel to their local precinct center to declare their support for one of two democratic presidential candidates.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sec. Hillary Clinton have fought over the state leading up to the caucuses by claiming new endorsements, making new attacks at each other and attending large rallies to encourage more voters to caucus for them.

Now just one day before the caucuses, Clinton has a 6 percent lead over the Vermont senator, according to the most recent poll by Gravis Marketing. Clinton has historically done very well in the state, even beating then-senator Obama for the democratic vote in 2008, however a Sanders win would show that the perceived inevitability of Clinton’s presidential nomination from the democratic party would be at an end.

Doors for the Nevada democratic caucus will open Saturday at 11 a.m. in hundreds of local precincts across the state. Voters will gather at their caucus location and move to one side of the room or the other based on their candidate preference. Once all participants have indicated their choice, the candidates are assigned delegates from that precinct proportionally. 

Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada, a state where the bid for the democratic nomination is becoming more hotly contested every day. (Photo courtesy Pixabay)
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada, a state where the bid for the democratic nomination is becoming more hotly contested every day. The city is responsible for appropriating the majority of delegates coming out of the Nevada caucus results. (Photo courtesy Pixabay)

Colorado democrats will not caucus for their preferred candidate until Tuesday, March 1, however voters in the state will follow similar caucus procedure. Colorado democrats have their eyes on the Silver State as it is the first to report its results with a large minority population.

Colorado and Nevada both have a high population of Latino voters. At 28 percent in Nevada and 21 percent in Colorado, the states’ Latino populations are the fifth and seventh highest in the nation, according to the Pew Research Center.

Nevada’s Latino population is higher than the national average. A win in Nevada would no doubt be influenced by the two candidate’s many endorsements from the Latino community.

The former first lady has the edge here, endorsed by some of the biggest names in the Latino community, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-IL, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

One key difference between Nevada and Colorado, however, is in data. Some have said it is impossible to tell who will win the democratic nomination in the state as there simply has not been enough polling done. Nevada has only been subject to three different polls, one that says Sanders and Clinton are dead tied, and two that show Clinton ahead by a small margin. 

For Clinton, a win in Nevada would show that her defeat in New Hampshire eleven days prior was a bump in the road, and that her campaign is on track to gain further support from more minority groups across the U.S.

A Nevada win for Sanders would only add more fuel to the fires of his call for a political revolution. It would put an end to the perception that Clinton will inevitably take the white house, and may show that minority groups and voters in the west favor his policies over the former secretary of state’s.

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The Nevada democratic caucus will take place Feb. 20 across the state’s 17 counties, with more than 12,000 delegates to appropriate. Clark County, in which Las Vegas is situated, has nearly 9,000 delegates to be appropriated on caucus day. Washoe County, most notably home to Reno, has almost 2,000. There are about 575,000 registered democrats in the state.

Collegian Assistant News Editor Erik Petrovich can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @EAPetrovich.