The GOP South Carolina primary is today. Across the country, the Democratic Party is having their Nevada Caucus. Next weekend these will be flipped. Why the parties did that is beyond me, but there it is. What should we expect in Nevada?
The RCP average shows Clinton at 48.7% and Sanders at 46.3%. But polling in Nevada is notoriously terrible, and the candidates are within the margin of error of each other as well. This one’s going to be a nail biter, plain and simple.
Anything less than a solid victory (5-10% or more) is terrible news for Clinton. The Democratic primaries are proportional all the way through to the end. That means that if Sanders keeps the race neck and neck, he’s going to continue to rack up plenty of delegates even if he loses. And the longer he pulls that off, the more likely Clinton is to falter.
On the flip side, anything smaller than a 5 point Clinton victory is a huge win for Sanders. A month and a half ago Clinton had a 20+ point margin in Nevada. If he manages to erode that down to a close contest in such a short period it shows him with honest momentum in the campaign.
My call? I’m expecting this one to be close either way, which is terrible for Clinton. Bernie’s brought out a killer ground game to Nevada just as he did in New Hampshire and Iowa. Nevada uses cards instead of coins to settle ties, so Clinton won’t be helped by magic quarters this time around. But the Nevada mafia might settle it for her all the same. She might pull out a technical victory, but my money is that the margins will be so tight that it hurts her more than it helps.