In August of 2007 it was decided that the Nevada caucus would be moved up to be the fifth state that casts votes in the 2008 presidential race. The move was an attempt to make Western issues an earlier focus in presidential campaigns, but other changes in primary dates have taken some of the power away from the Silver State, making it nearly impossible to predict the outcome of the Nevada caucus.Most Republican candidates are spending little to no effort on Nevada.
Huckabee and McCain are focused on South Carolina, where the Republican primary is the same day as the Nevada caucus and where voters tend to be more representative of the Bible Belt states that were so important to the Republican candidates in 2004.
Giuliani continues his unorthodox campaign in Florida, paying little attention to other primaries and caucuses in the month of January.
The Republicans spending the most time in Nevada are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Romney is likely playing to the Mormon vote, as Nevada has the fourth highest Mormon population in the nation.
Ron Paul defeated Romney in the Nevada Republican Assembly Straw Poll, but the numbers from the Iowa Republican straw poll and the New Hampshire primary shows that, though Ron Paul’s supporters are passionate, the libertarian-leaning Republican just does not have the numbers to compete with the Republican front-runners.
Public polls speak a different story, with Giuliani leading, followed by Romney. Ron Paul is behind the front-runners, placing fifth behind Huckabee, Thompson and McCain, respectively.
Democratic candidate Barack Obama has found recent support in Nevada from the Culinary Workers Union, a large union boasting around 60,000 members. The Nevada chapter of the Service Employees International Union has also given support to Obama. This came as a blow to John Edwards, who has focused much of his campaign on promoting himself as the “labor candidate.”
Senator Hillary Clinton is leading polls in Nevada, but the union support for Obama may put a dent in her lead. However, Clinton has gained a recent endorsement from Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who represents the Las Vegas area.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties expect low voter turnout in Nevada. In the past, Nevada has had typically bad voter turnout. In the 2004 presidential election Nevada had 47.78 percent voter turnout, ranking them 47th compared to other states.