The Nevada caucus and the South Carolina primary were added to the Democratic presidential calendar to move more demographically diverse states earlier in the process. While Iowa and New Hampshire are overwhelmingly white, A 2016 CNN exit poll of the Nevada caucuses found that 59% of the voters were white, 19% Latino and 13% black, whereas 93% of the Democratic voters in New Hampshire that year were white.
The state’s Democratic Party allows voters to register as Democrats the same day as the caucus. This makes it difficult for pollsters to determine exactly who will vote in the primary.
Labor unions play a powerful role in Nevada Democratic politics. The influential Culinary Union has 57,000 members and played a big role in Barack Obama’s win there in 2008 but was neutral in the 2016 race between Clinton and Sanders.
In 2016, the Nevada caucuses started at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 21. Each precinct was run by a Temporary Chair who called the caucus to order at 11:30 a.m. and read the caucus rules. Afterwards, caucus goers broke off into groups, standing in separate locations that correspond with the candidate they supported. For a candidate to receive any delegates from a precinct, he or she had to meet a threshold of support, which ranged from 15% to 25%, depending on how many delegates the precinct got to elect. If one candidate did not reach the minimum threshold, there would be second round of voting in which the supporters of threshold-meeting candidates are able to try to persuade the supporters of candidates who didn’t make the cut (that did not happen in 2016 because there were only two candidates).
The Nevada caucuses are designed to make it easier for working people to participate and so to ensure a diverse turnout. The caucuses are on a Saturday and, while most people caucus close to their homes, the Nevada Democrats in 2016 set up six “at-large” caucuses at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip to make it easier for casino workers to participate.
William McCurdy II (email@example.com) is the Nevada State Democratic Party’s first African American Chair and, at age 28, the youngest Chair in modern party history. The Las Vegas Sun Times has a regularly updated political blog. https://lasvegassun.com/news/politics/