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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Democrats and Nevada

For the Democrats, tomorrow's Nevada Caucus will break the longest wait of the Democratic Primary season, as no meaningful votes have been cast since the New Hampshire Primary back on Tuesday the 8th.

For the Republicans, tomorrow is the first multi-state voting day that either party has seen, when both Nevada and South Carolina Republicans show up to their precincts to try and provide clarification to a race that has seen three major primaries won by three different candidates.

So tomorrow's a big day. Let's take a look at how each candidate is shaping up heading into it, as well as tomorrow's possible ramifications. Today I'll take a look at the Democrats, and tomorrow the Republicans.

Nevada is more important than most realize. Famously, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have each won one state a piece, and their delegate difference it negligible. Moreover, the last two major Nevada polls disagree on who's up in the state, just as most of the nation disagrees on who's up in the country. Therefore, the Nevada Caucus will temporarily put an end to the tie that's lasted for ten days. American Research Group has Clinton up three while Research 2000 has Obama up two. Nevada, as the first primary in ten days and the last one for a week, will be a fairly accurate barometer of where the race stands between the two seemingly even candidates.

Both Clinton and Obama, however, have a probable buffer if Nevada does not go their way.

Hillary Clinton - Her labor ties and husband's strength with Latinos should give her a small Nevada victory. However, if she did not win, the New Hampshire victory at least ensured that her lead in the big Super Tuesday states should hold. Unless Obama earns sizeable wins in both Nevada and South Carolina, Clinton will be a leader on February 6th, it's just a matter of by how much. She should and will win Nevada, which will ensure that she stays the favorite for the next couple weeks. She also has the superdelegate buffer if things really do make it to the convention, but that's a column for a different time.

Barack Obama - Obama will win South Carolina next Saturday, which means tomorrow's Nevada Caucus could either be the beginning of a great run or a quickly corrected hiccup. Obama would love to open up a lead in the delegate count by Super Tuesday, as he desperately needs to cut into Clinton's California, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey leads. His goal is to be alive on February 6th. So far, he's on that path, but he needs to stay competitive in Nevada tomorrow. He can lose, but if it's by too much, a South Carolina win goes from probable to questionable, and the nomination becomes doubtful.

John Edwards - Edwards looked great in the three-person debate, never seeming as legitimate of a candidate since his eggs-in-one-basket strategy failed with a second place finish in Iowa. It would not be a surprise to see a moderate bump in his polling if he can finish a competitive third in Nevada, and a competitive third he is running in the last two major polls (C35-O32-E25, C30-O32-E27).

Check back for the Republican preview of tomorrow's Nevada and South Carolina votes.

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