Trying to figure out the Nevada caucuses

Been checking in sporadically on the Nevada caucus predictions, and it was neck and neck a few days ago and now Hillary is edging out Bernie again, but who knows, it’s a caucus. It’s really impossible to tell who will show up to a caucus and where and with both sides as fired up as they are and the Culinary Union sitting this one out (membership being so split) it’s all quite up in the air. I know that for the Democratic Party in Nevada (looking at the Nevada’s Secretary of States voter data here) you have the initial caucuses which selects about ten thousand delegates (out of about 600,000 Democrats in the state, though how many are expected to attend the caucuses on Saturday I have no idea), then over the next three months those delegates meet at their respective county Democratic conventions (there are 17 counties in Nevada) and are whittled down to maybe three or four thousand delegates who go on to state Democratic Party convention in May which manages to pick the 24 delegates who will go on to the Democratic national convention. And kind of like how the electoral college is weighted in favor of small states and against big states (so that a Californian’s presidential vote is worth about one-third of what a North Dakotan’s vote is worth*) residents of rural counties (a couple of which have in Nevada are disproportionately represented in the state convention. Thus a candidate can do really well in the biggest county–Clark (450K Democrats)–and win the popular vote count yet lose in the delegate count by not having enough delegates Washoe (95K Democrats) and in the small counties (none of which come close to 10K registered Democrats and six of which have less than a thousand, Esmeralda County has 120 registered Democrats, Eureka County has 112). This is what happened in 2008 (using date from here) when Hillary won over 50% in the caucuses but wound up losing the final delegate vote at the state convention because the Obama campaign had worked the small counties and thus had more delegates on hand because Hillary had majorities in less counties. The initial vote in the Caucuses of 50% Hillary to 45% Obama (due to Hillary’s high turn out in Clark County) in January became 55% Obama to 45% Hillary at the convention in May, because Obama had managed to get more caucus goers to attend the precinct caucuses in Washoe County (Reno) and the small counties back in January than had Hillary (who won in hugely populated Clark County), even though Hillary had more total caucus goers state wide. Basically it’s not so much how many supporters you have, but where you have those supporters. Obama had more in the right places, even though he had less overall, and wound up with fourteen delegates to the national convention to Hillary’s eleven. If California selected its delegates in the same manner, a candidate could win most of the big counties in the Bay Area and Southern California yet still lose the delegate total because the other candidate won all the small rural counties, and there are many more small rural counties in California than big urban ones. Same goes for Nevada. It’s not whether you win or lose in the Nevada caucuses, so much, but how you play the game. Obama’s team in Nevada outplayed Hillary’s in 2008. It was not that far different from how the more popular Al Gore was defeated by George W Bush in 2000. Gore got a half million more votes, but Bush got his smaller number of votes in the right places. Of course, the results of the Nevada caucuses, skewed as they were, did not affect the outcome of the nomination race at all. Indeed, they had little significance in the overall picture. It’s just that the Nevada Caucuses were the fourth contest that year (preceded by Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan) and as such get a lot of media attention. Which, at the time, gave Hillary a “win”, since the actual delegates weren’t to be selected for months, long after Obama has already racked up the delegates he needed. Continue reading

Ahmed Muhamed

I don’t understand how Bernie Sanders, of all people, can be so tone deaf about this kinda thing. In fact, his one big stumble so far was when he infuriated Black LIves Matter by never going off message even for a tweet or two to comment on the police shootings and beatings of African Americans. I’m not so sure how many Bernie supporters are aware there was even an issue with that, but in the Black community it did him in. That more than any other factor is why so few people of color show up at his rallies.

So when I saw Hillary comment on the racially profiled arrest of fourteen year old Ahmed Muhamed in Texas for designing a clock, I expected a hollow up from Bernie Sanders. But there was nothing. He refused to go off his message even one iota to make a statement about this and give even a hint that he is concerned with issues of police abuse and racial profiling. Of course he’s concerned…but he keeps missing out on opportunities to show it. Today was a perfect opportunity. Apparently Bernie and his whole staff was busy. It would have taken only thirty seconds but been worth a million dollars in television advertising in southern primary states next March. And I simply cannot fathom how neither he nor anyone on his staff had figured that out. And as a result, there are a hundred stories on the web right now that quote in their entirety the tweets from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

What is it that makes Bernie Sanders ignore the value of the symbolism in tweeting in anger about the police abuse of a person of color. I know it’s not a problem in Vermont, but it’s a huge problem elsewhere, and he needs to address it when it come up, even if all that means is a simple little message on Twitter.

His campaign needs to stop ignoring people of color, because those people make up a huge proportion of the Democratic Party. This party has been based on poor people and immigrants for its entire existence, and you can’t bend over backwards appealing to hip white progressives, a goof chunk of them members of the top fifth of Americans in income, and pretend the rest of the party doesn’t exist.