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Ralston And Sebelius: Politically Speaking

Scot Lien

The presidential race is finally coming to Nevada. The Democratic Caucus is Saturday, and the Republicans vote for their favorite candidate on Tuesday.

Democratic Caucus Locations
Republican Caucus Locations (and registration)

So, how many Nevadans support Hillary and Bernie? How many are going to show up for Trump? And the bigger question – How many are going to show up at all?

Also, is there going to be big turnout in precincts with a large amount of black and Latino voters? If so, who will they vote for?

And wouldn't any of these candidates win a lot of points if they came out in favor of rooftop solar?

We talked about these questions and more in our weekly politics conversation with Jon Ralston, host of Ralston Live, and Steve Sebelius, politics reporter for the Review Journal and host of PoliticsNOW.


Are you feeling that there is a lot more enthusiasm in Bernie camp and the Hillary camp is just not connecting?

Jon Ralston: Certainly, there is more and more enthusiasm with Bernie Sanders in the campaign in general and you've seen that developing in Nevada, especially after he nearly beat her in Iowa and crushed in New Hampshire. That explains why the Clinton camp is so worried now about Nevada. 

The Clinton campaign is making a lot of phone calls. They're finally in the mail. They're about even or close to it with Bernie Sanders on TV now. 

It's a real campaign for her now. When two or three months ago, they were taking this state for granted. 

Steve Sebelius: I think the enthusiasm on the Hillary Clinton side may not be as intense as the Bernie Sanders side but it is definitely there. It's definitely a campaign and very hard fought one.

So we're feeling the enthusiasm but is that going to translate to people showing up Saturday?

Sebelius: This process rewards organization. It's all about organization and it's all about the ability to get a group of people at a particular place at a particular time. If you can't do that, no matter how much enthusiasm there is. No matter how many people filled the stadiums or the ballrooms, you're not going to win. 

Ralston: I think [the caucus system] favors the campaign with more organization generally and that is Hillary Clinton's. It's not even close. Although the Sanders' campaign has done a lot in the past couple of weeks to bulk up its operation. 

This would be [Bernie Sanders] second win in a row and [Hillary Clinton] would be in big trouble in terms of perception by the media. 

There will be a lot of 'Is Hillary Dead' stories if she loses Nevada. 

Do you have a sense that there is momentum in minority communities to show up?

Ralston: I think there is some momentum in the Latino community, which Hillary Clinton is doing a lot now to turn out. You've seen Delores Huerta, the legendary civil rights leader, here all week. You've seen Henry Cisneros the former cabinet secretary, mayor of San Antonio. She has other surrogates here today trying to generate enthusiasm in the Latino community.   

Everyone talks about immigration, which Hillary has essentially said exactly what they want to hear, but the economic justice-income inequality message may have even more resonance with a lot of these Latino workers in the casinos and younger Latinos. 

Sebelius: I think the conventional wisdom is true: That the greater the minority turnout then the better it is for Secretary Clinton as opposed to Bernie Sanders. But just in case, the Hillary Clinton campaign is leaving nothing to chance and leaving subtlety in its dust.

Are the Republicans going to shift focus after South Carolina or are they going to ignore Nevada?

Sebelius: I think they will give us a little bit of their attention. Governor Bush is going to be here  on Sunday trying to do one last town hall and one last push for votes.  

The way the calendar worked out for that was pretty unfortunate for the Republicans. It is one of the problems they face in this whole process. 

How much with the South Carolina vote impact Nevada's vote on Tuesday?

Ralston: I think it will have an impact. If Donald Trump wins in South Carolina,as most of the polls show he will, I think he will win here as well. 

The Non-Trump candidates really need to make an effort here to finish in second place. This whole race comes down to who can be the alternative to Trump and as long as there are three or four other candidates Trump is going to win every race. 


Jon Ralston, host of Ralston Live;  Steve Sebelius, politics reporter for the Review-Journal and host of PoliticsNOW

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)