Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nevada Caucuses Liveblog

Image Credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

The most important thing to know about tonight's Nevada Caucuses is that the 28 delegates at stake will be split proportionally to the vote total. Results are trickling in but we'll expect most of them around 7pm local time. I'll mostly be interested in seeing if Romney can beat his 2008 numbers in the state, which was one of the handful that he won before bowing out of the race.

One big number to watch out for tonight is the overall turnout. The Florida primary attracted 300,000 fewer voters this year than four years ago, a shocking drop when you consider that there wasn't a competitive Democratic primary this year. Caucus goers tend to be more active partisans, so a drop in caucus attendance may be more worrying for the GOP.
In the 2008 Nevada Caucuses, Mitt Romney won 22,646 votes for 51% of the caucus goers' preference votes. Republican turnout totaled 44,315. An interesting note: in 2008, Nevada's caucuses followed a more traditional caucus process of proportional representation through tiers of conventions. This year, the preference vote is binding on the state's eventual national party delegation.
9:12pm Washoe County, the second largest in Nevada, is now 100% in. Romney won with 42.3% of the vote with 2,836 supporters coming out tonight. That's a pretty big problem for him. In 2008, he won Washoe county with 4,032 votes. That's nearly 1,200 supporters he lost in that county in the last four years.
8:42pm The lack of actual returns at this point is disgusting. Most caucuses began at 9am this morning, but there hasn't been any effort to report them. There have been literally no results reported from Clark County, the most populous county in Nevada, and also the largest contributor to Mitt Romney's win in 2008. I'll be back tomorrow with the delegate allocation totals once the results are in. Currently, with 18.7% of results in, Romney has 38.4%, Gingrich 27.6%, Paul 18.6%, and Santorum 14.7%. These numbers will almost certainly change when Clark comes in. If these percentages were to hold up, Romney would gain 11 delegates, Gingrich 8, Paul 5, Santorum 4. Goodnight.
8:39pm Gingrich suckered into getting back onto podium to announce he's rooting for the Giants to win the Superbowl. The press boos the announcement.
8:34pm "It's a fight, and if you're not willing to fight, you might as well get out of the race." Gingrich decries that campaign has had relentlessly negative tone, especially with unregulated tv ads. Of course, he doesn't support any reforms of campaign finance laws.
8:32pm Gingrich backing up his arguments by appealing to Larry Sabato, Jack Kemp, John McCain, etc... Not a winning rhetoric when the base is energized by anti-elitist and Gingrich is trying to cast himself as anti-establishment.
8:29pm Gingrich makes the numbers argument that Santorum should have made:
When you look at Florida, I won every county that had increased turnout. Mitt Romney won every county that had decreased turnout [relative to 2008]. I think that Republicans won't be comfortable with a candidate who wins by suppressing turnout.

8:26pm Gingrich inadvertently telegraphs when he'll concede:
I've run a national campaign that his twice made me the frontrunner so far, and I believe will again by the time we get around to the Texas Primary.
Gingrich must believe that he has enough financial backing to compete until Texas votes.
8:23pm No obvious 'new strategy' from Newt. Is anyone disappointed that Gingrich bluster turned out to just be self-promoting joke?
8:20pm New Gingrich attack on Romney's economic record: Romney had the third-worst record of job creation as governor while he served.
8:17pm CNN cuts away from the Ron Paul caucus-goers speaking for 45 minutes to cover Gingrich. "Unlike Governor Romney, I care very deeply about helping America's poor."
7:51pm What's with CNN's delegate bar? They have Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum all with the numbers they had earlier in the week. Maybe they didn't figure out that Nevada is a proportional system?
7:46pm To be fair, it's hard to fit in new focus groups on such a compact calendar. Maybe he'll put in some new buzzwords in February when there's a 3 week gap.
7:44pm Same Romney stump speech he's given after every primary and caucus. But he's still surprised by applause.
7:42pm Romney effectively conceding that the end of 'tough times' is in sight, but claims the President's policies "made them longer." It's a rare if half-realized capitulation to reality that the economy has improved under the Obama administration's tenure.
7:40pm Romney's speech: He is gifted at lying that the President is responsible for anything that a state doesn't like. In this case, he's blaming President Obama for the backlash against racist anti-immigrant bills signed by Governor Brian Sandoval. The President never commented on the boycott.
7:30pm Santorum has been getting all of the face time in the last two hours on cable tv. Not many viewers tonight, but enough conservative activists. He has to convince them that he can beat Romney, that he can do better than Gingrich, and that he can win in November. So far, he's done a pretty good job in his interviews, but and his speech was passable. The one thing he isn't doing is making the hard case with quick talking points. Still, he's done a great job dominating the message to the audience he really needs to reach tonight.
7:23pm Douglas county is 100% reported now, and Romney is also down from his 2008 support by about 10%.
7:18pm CNN has video of Paul delegate trying to get into 'religious exception' caucus. It looks bad for both the Paul campaign and the Nevada GOP.
7:17pm Google and CNN seem to be counting very different races.
7:07pm So far, the real winner of the night is Matt Strawn and the Iowa Republican Party. Nevada GOP is making them look competent by comparison. Via Nate Silver:
Nevada GOP has reported results of 29 precincts in 23 minutes, putting them on pace to report all results by 8:38 PM. Tomorrow.

7:03pm There are massive margins for Romney in the counties bordering Utah. I wonder why that would be?
7:00pm Romney party in Las Vegas was clearly designed by overzealous advance team. Backdrop of supporters in stands is already in place. Also, has anyone checked if Romney placed any $10,000 bets while in Vegas?
6:54pm Newt Gingrich's daughters are deferring details about Gingrich's "new delegate strategy" that he'll announce an hour after the caucus sites close. I suppose his old delegate strategy has been a pretty big failure if he walks away with with the same number of Nevada delegates as Ron Paul.
6:50pm In Storey County in the North West, Mitt Romney wins by a single vote. In second place is Ron Paul
6:46pm Carson City is 100% reported. Romney garners 656 votes there, a 14% decline from 2008.
6:43pm Nate Silver reports that Washoe County is seeing 25% lower turnout than four years ago. Where's the enthusiasm, GOP?
6:06pm Josh Romney says, "My dad is a turn-around guy. That's who he is." Great neologism for "flip-flopper" which always sounded childish to me.
6:07pm Exit pollings are showing 54% of Republicans caucusing tonight have the economy as their top concern. That's good news for Romney tonight, but better news for the President in November. He has a more effective message and has fought for policies that Republicans blocked that would alleviate the largest problem in Nevada's economy.
5:55pm Santorum interviews with CNN, and is pandering to Colorado voters with a bolo tie and a sports jacket. Stick to the sweater vest, Mr. Former Senator. Update: CNN notices the bolo tie and does a 2 minute segment on it at 6:22pm. Hard hitting news, guys.

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