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CAUCUS MEMO: With Clinton Leading in Iowa and Sanders Ahead in New Hampshire, Nevada Poised to Play Decisive Role

To: Interested Parties
From: Zach Zaragoza, Executive Director, Nevada State Democratic Party
Subject: CAUCUS MEMO: With Clinton Leading in Iowa and Sanders Ahead in New Hampshire, Nevada Poised to Play Decisive Role
Date: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

With less than two months to go before Nevada’s First in the West Democratic caucuses, voters in the Battle Born State are once again poised to play a critical role in shaping the course of the presidential election.

The latest CBS News / YouGov poll shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders by five points (50 percent to 45 percent) among Iowa Democratic caucus voters. In the same poll, Sanders leads Clinton by 14 points (56 percent to 42 percent) among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters. Current polling averages illustrate a similar picture in the first two early states: Clinton is maintaining her lead in Iowa, while Sanders continues to hold an edge in New Hampshire.

We will be the third state in the country to make our voice heard in the Democratic presidential primary process. That means Nevada could once again be a highly sought-after opportunity for Democratic presidential candidates to notch a crucial tie-breaking victory in an early state. And as the nation’s demographics shift, Nevada will be the first state in the primary calendar that meaningfully reflects the diverse coalition of voters that Democrats will need to bring together to win the 2016 general election and elect our next Commander-in-Chief.

That’s why the campaigns are making Nevada a top priority. Las Vegas hosted the first Democratic presidential debate of the cycle in October. Sanders attracted more than 2,000 grassroots supporters at a North Las Vegas rally last month, and his campaign has now opened seven field offices across the state. Clinton recently toured Northern Nevada, hitting several stops on the campaign trail in Reno, and her campaign is ramping up their on-the-ground organizing and outreach to Latino voters. All of the Democratic candidates are scheduled to kick off 2016 by appearing at the “Battle Born / Battleground” First in the West Caucus Dinner hosted by the Nevada State Democratic Party and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on January 6.

Why Nevada Matters

Few states can rival Nevada’s demographic, regional and cultural diversity – particularly among the early states that kick off the primary process. This diversity reflects the new voice of the Democratic Party and the rising electorate that sent President Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012. Latino voters are expected to make up more than 20 percent of the vote in Nevada in the 2016 general election. Nevada is home to vibrant AAPI and African American communities, and we also have sizeable populations of young voters and military families. Organized labor is particularly strong here, and the local unions are a potent political force fighting for middle class security.

Nevada was first selected for an early spot in the 2008 presidential nomination process because of this growing diversity, the regional importance of the West and our designation as a caucus state. Senator Reid played an indispensable role pushing for Nevada to be moved up on the presidential calendar.

In 2008, Nevada’s Democratic caucuses featured a vigorous contest between then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that helped lay the groundwork for Democratic victories in this key battleground state. After Obama decisively won Iowa and Clinton came back to win New Hampshire, Nevada was pivotal for both candidates seeking to build momentum. Clinton ultimately secured a six-point win in the caucus vote, 51 percent to 45 percent, while Obama’s campaign countered that he actually performed better because his strong showing in rural areas helped him win 13 national convention delegates compared to 12 for Clinton.

Nevada is still a young caucus state, but we are already making a big impression on the presidential primary again for the 2016 election cycle. The First in the West caucuses will be a significant prize for the Democratic candidate who comes out on top on Saturday, February 20.