Nevada GOP Caucus Breakdown
There will not be a surprise result in the Nevada caucuses; it is one of the friendliest Romney states and he will win very comfortably. Exhibit A, final results of 2008 Nevada Republican caucuses:
To put those results, and tomorrow night’s, in context, it’s helpful to look at the composition of the Nevada Republican base. As a former resident of the Las Vegas area, home to two-thirds of the entire state’s population, I’ll share some of my observations about three of the most important subgroups of the Nevada GOP.
Seven percent of Nevadans are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this group made up one-fourth of GOP caucusers in 2008. This is the Romney base, and they should turn out in large numbers again, particularly with Mitt riding a wave of momentum.
Aside from consisting of some of the more honest, respectful and intelligent people to debate economics with, the Nevada LDS community is not altogether enamored with the Tea Party and related elements of the Republican party. They are not big Sarah Palin fans and thought Sharron Angle was a crazy person. Angle, better known as the girl who cried sharia, emerged from a three-way primary and got Harry Reid (a rare LDS Democrat) re-elected in the 2010 GOP wave in which Generic Republican A would have likely retired him from the Senate.
Basically, these are professional, conservative family people who just want to live a prosperous and G-rated life with their kids, and pay as little taxes as possible, because they tithe 10% to the church and feel like that’s giving back to a higher cause. Many of them work in the financial industry in some capacity and feel most comfortable with someone from a similar background in charge of the larger economy. Romney will win LDS Nevadans comfortably tomorrow and in November as well. There will be no surprises with this group.
I took advantage of Nevada’s Early Voting program in 2008, and went to my assigned polling place: a golf clubhouse at the Del Webb Sun City Summerlin senior living community. I enjoyed the free lemonade and cute old ladies, but looking around in line, I may well have been the only Obama-Biden vote cast that day at that location.
Las Vegas, with its weather, gaming, food, entertainment, and most importantly to this group, emerald mosaic of master-planned golf communities has attracted retired older singles and couples from around the country (and the world). This tends to be a very socially conservative crowd; not necessarily religious, but more in the sense of being culturally nostalgic that sometimes approaches nativist. There are plenty of “take our country back from this Marxist” people on the fairways of Sun City and Anthem who would seem to lean Gingrich, but there are also many old-fashioned retired conservative businessmen who like the implied competence of the technocrat Romney.
Older transplant Jews are heavily represented in this group as well; these would seem to be natural Romney people, but Newt’s benefactor Sheldon Adelson is a rich, powerful man and the ultimate big shot in the Las Vegas Jewish community. (The best part of the Las Vegas Jewish community? Bagelmania.) Newt’s been doubling down on Israel to keep Sheldon interested; I wonder if it is enough not only to do that, but to win over a group of voters who think President Obama is a secret Muslim but don’t necessarily love to vote for southerners.
Romney will take the 65+ vote in Nevada (Mormons age too), but Gingrich should want to place an impressive second with this slice of the electorate in order to maintain his strong support from seniors going forward.
3. “Western libertarians”
I call these voters “Western libertarians” for lack of a better term, but I think it fits because the things they like remind me of both or either the West and/or liberty. They tend to be low-tax, small-government, pro-gun, pro-privacy, pro-individual liberties, anti-legislating morality, not overly religious and not as willing to anoint titans of banking as national heroes as a lot of other Republicans. These are the voters who are really turned off by Romney’s overly casual talk about firing people and hate the way he tries to pretend he’s a varmint hunter. Mitt Romney talks about hunting the way George W. Bush talks about everything.
Nevada’s substantial military population naturally aligns with this group, which helps explain Ron Paul’s strong performance in 2008. Paul could do even better with them this time given the context of the current election cycle and his early organization on the ground.
Reach Staff Columnist Matt Pressberg here.