Johnson: The Nevada caucuses prove antiquity of the system


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

Columnist Zachary Johnson believes the Nevada caucuses are even more proof as to why the caucus system as a whole is no longer acceptable and efficient.

Zachary Johnson

Despite coming to a conclusion regarding a winner far earlier than the Iowa Caucus, the Nevada Caucus has been slower to get results back and is further proof of the antiquity in the caucus system.

If the Iowa caucuses had had such an obvious winner as Sanders in Nevada at this point, Troy Price may still have a job, and the Iowa Democratic Party may still have the reputation that they lost after the fiasco earlier this month. 

At this point, Nevada has only 60 percent of precincts reporting, and, when compared to the Iowa results, Iowa has been outperforming Nevada as far as the amount of results that have been put out. Despite Nevada having the prime example of a botched caucus in Iowa, they still failed to get their results out faster and have, in fact, put them out slower than their Iowan counterparts.

Why then, you may ask, has the narrative surrounding the caucus been entirely different?

Bernie Sanders has performed extremely well in the state and especially well with Latinx voters who have been seen as the state’s pivotal demographic from an electoral perspective (Nate Cohn has a perfect regression plot that illustrates this). The factor of Nevada, a far more diverse state than Iowa, made the result far less competitive than the Iowa result. 

Additionally, according to the 2010 census, over 95 percent of Nevada’s population lives in urban areas, and a lot of that is concentrated in Washoe and Clark counties where Reno and Las Vegas, respectively, are located. This means that precincts located in these counties will have significantly more people than the precincts located throughout the state, and more voters from a numerical perspective will be counted sooner. This also makes it easier for analysts to extrapolate on the results of fewer precincts, given the geographical homogeneity of these precincts.

It is this amalgamation of evidence combined that shows us that the relative announcement and projection of a winner in Nevada should not be seen as evidence of Iowa’s specific malpractice or of the viability of the caucus system generally.

This, however, highlights something that I feel has gone under-discussed in this discussion of caucuses and their viability in selecting the nominee for the party. This is the first cycle of these sorts of elections where it has been asked that the first and final votes should be tallied in addition to the final state delegate equivalents.

While I think it is right for the information regarding these vote tallies to be reported, I think that it is important to account for this while judging the state parties on how effectively they have reported the results.

That being said, it has been known that these numbers were to be reported for a long time in advance, and though there isn’t as much money being put into these systems due to constraints of being a state-level party, there was enough notice to know whether these systems would work or not.

Don’t get it twisted, the chair of the Nevada Democratic Party is only avoiding the same scrutiny and backlash that the Iowa party got because of the nature of the results, not because of how they were reported.