Live Coverage of the Nevada Caucus

6:00 Ok, we are moving to a new post to pick up the television coverage.  Please join in.  This may be a short night, but there are some interesting subplots playing.

Reading the tealeaves of the entrance poll results, this does not, as yet, appear that Mitt has shown he is expanding his coalition.  So far it’s looking like a reprise of 2008. Not that the media will see this.

In looking at the entrance polls, the percentage of independents is almost identical to 2008, and the number of 18-29 age voters is down from 2008.  Not necessarily good news for Ron Paul. Check that, independents were 12% of the vote in 2008, so the 6% increase actually bodes well for Paul.  So I look for him to build on the 14% he won in 2008. He won 48% of independents.

Big difference from 2008?  Only 7% of caucus goers cited electability as the most important candidate quality then – this time, 44% said it was “beating Obama”!   Big turnabout, and one that will work in Romney’s favor.

Interestingly, among the 42% that are strong supporters of the Tea Party, Romney beats Gingrich, 40-31%.  That’s the first time I’ve seen Romney win among strong Tea Party supporters.  So maybe he is making some inroads among this group. But how many are Mormon?

Another big difference – in 2008, only 43% of participants made their decision before January.  this year, a whopping 57% did.  That is, more than half of the participants had their minds made up before any voting took place in the nominating process at all!  Romney won big among that group, so lots of built-in Romney support this time around.

Guess what – Romney does worse among Mormons this time around – “only” 91%.  He won 95% in 2008.  Keep in mind that entrance polls are rather fuzzy indicators of the actual vote.  Note sure there’s any real difference between 91% and 95%.

The poor people on CNN are trying desperately to hype tonight’s coverage, but the reality is that there not much to hype.  About the only uncertainty is who will finish second, and whether I  hit the proportions right on the nose.

One other issue: is turnout up?  Remember, Mitt’s victory in Florida came with depressed turnout.   Early signals tonight suggest turnout isn’t up, and may be down.

Once again, Mitt’s support increases in linear fashion as we go up the income scale.  In fact, he loses the  10% who earn less than $30,000 to Paul(by 1%) and ties with Gingrich.  No wonder he’s not concerned with the poor! Note that he won the poorest vote easily in 2008.  Indeed, in 2008, there was much less income skew in Mitt’s vote.   Not this year – his support tracks income quite closely.

In thinking about Mitt’s support among the Tea Party – without access to cross-tabs, I can’t be sure how many Tea Party voters are also Mormons.  So I would hesitate based on tonight’s results to conclude that Mitt is making inroads among the non-Mormon Tea Party voters.

Still no turnout figures, but so far there’s no sign that turnout is up over 2008.  Remember that in 2008 turnout was about 44,000.

Gergen and and the other commentators on CNN are missing the key point here -we don’t know how many Tea Party votes and conservative votes are coming from Mormons.  Without knowing that, we need to resist saying that Romney expanded his support among the Tea Party or conservatives.

Will Mitt win more than the 22,246 votes he won in 2008?

CNN results should be coming up at 8.

And there they are!  Don’t look know, but my prediction is almost exactly correct …. based on about 5% return!  Alas, these proportions will change as the vote from the more urban and southern areas come in and begin to boost Mitt a bit.

Gergen and Will Cain are missing the point here in their discussion of Nevada’s Tea Party and conservative report.  Doesn’t someone have a line to them?  Quick – somebody tell them that Mormon and Tea Party and conservative aren’t mutually exclusive groups!

My point here is that the entrance polls don’t give us cross-tabs.  But if you look at previous polls that do have crosstabs, you can see where the CNN commentators are going wrong.  For instance, the PPP poll from last week shows that 80% of Mormons consider themselves somewhat or very conservative.  So if Mitt wins 91% of the Mormon vote, he’s going to win a big chunk of conservatives as well.  Similarly, 13% of Tea Party supporters are Mormons, compared to 20% of overall voters as Mormon, in that same PPP poll.  Again, if you win 91% of Mormons, you are going to win some Tea party voters as well (assuming the polling results hold up.)

Additional PPP data: 20% of Mormons support the Tea party.  I hope I’ve made my point.

Looks like the votes are going to trickle in here.   It may be a lot longer night than I anticipated.  Doesn’t feel like I’ve earned a scotch as yet.

8:47  It’s early – only 8% of the vote in – but Mitt is only at 45%.  I have to think that will go up as results from southern Nevada come in, but if he can’t match 2008 total, and turnout is lower, this will be a bad night for Mitt.   Wonder how much the “I don’t care for the poor” comments hurt him?  Keep in mind – only Mitt and Paul spent any money in this state.  Newt and Rick decided to save their cash and spent very little, if anything, on television advertising in Nevada.

By the way, Newt has a press conference scheduled for 8 pacific time.  The twitterverse were speculating he was going to drop out.  Highly unlikely.  My guess is he’s going to reiterate that he’s in this to stay, and he may have a funding announcement as well.   In any case, it’s clear to me that he’s going to use February to build up his war chest looking ahead to Feb. 28 and March 6 primaries.  It makes no sense for him to drop out before the southern states vote on March 6.  I still say Santorum is likely to call it quits first.  Tuesday is really his only chance to win a state – he’s competing in Missouri’s no-binding primary on Tuesday, and Newt’s not on the ballot there.   If Santorum can’t win there … .

Speaking of Rick, he’s on CNN speaking to a Colorado audience.  Alas, he’s not polling well there either.   Lots of twitter comments about his bolo tie with a button down shirt.  I see the tie is his voice, almost.   This has got to be a grueling process.

10 p.m. Surprise!  CNN calls it for Mitt.  But if he doesn’t pick it up, this is going to be a disappointing night for him.  He has to at least match what he got in 2008, in a five candidate race.  Right now he’s running behind, in a lower turnout affair.

It’s interesting to speculate regarding what Newt is going to say tonight.  My guess is he’s trying to show how he wins the nomination.  By laying out a feasible path, he’s trying to overcome the electability issue that so far has been playing in Romney’s favor.  But the best way to demonstrate electability is to just win, baby.   Of course, he may be trying to focus on raising money in the next several weeks, and tonight’s speech might be designed to appeal to those deep pockets.

Wolf Blitzer is on describing Mitt’s “dramatic” victory tonight.  Are we looking at the same returns?

I don’t know what the holdup is on these returns – CNN has been on 10% returns for an hour now.  I thought for sure they’d update in a flurry of returns as soon as the polls closed.  How are they delivering returns out there – by passenger pigeon?

10:23  Finally, an update!  And, wonders of wonders, with 13% of the vote in, my prediction suddenly looks uncanny!  If only they would stop counting now…..  Should I give my super bowl point spread as well?  Bottom line:  Mitt is at 47%, 3 under my projection, while Santorum is at 12%, 4% above my guesstimate.  But looks like I nailed Newt and Ron.

Somebody needs to take Will Cain off the CNN stage – he’s just making stuff up.  I can’t take anymore without a scotch.  I think I’ve earned it.

Keep in mind that the special “Adelson Center” precinct has yet to vote.  If Gingrich doesn’t win this….!

As always happen when you finish last, the pundits begin touting what a nice guy you are, and how you’ve grown, and stayed out of the gutter, etc.   That’s Santorum’s fate tonight – Borger and Gergen are now heaping praise on the person who finished last.  What did Leo Durocher say?  (Do any of you know who Leo Durocher is?)

Mitt is on, and he’s wearing the jacket.  Looks spiffy!  I expect him to spend the night blasting Obama.  Remember, Nevada could be a key battleground state in 2012.

I wonder if that person out of work  for three years was a “poor” person?

What is it with this reference to Obama’s friends in “the faculty lounge”?  Richard?  Jeff?  What did we do wrong?  Heck, I don’t even have a faculty lounge, unless you count the third floor men’s room in Munroe… .

Rousing general election speech, touching on all the major themes – if he wins the nomination!  Tonight is not helping his cause, although it’s not clear to me the media will understand this.

15% of the vote in, and Paul closes on Newt.  None of the networks have called the second place, as yet, have they?

Meanwhile, Newt is coming on – he’s at least prompted some media interest.  Which may be the point of holding this right after Mitt’s victory speech.  I have to think his goal is to make a credible case that he can win this nomination, in the hope of making sure the money tree doesn’t die.

In looking at the CNN map, we are still waiting on returns from major urban areas, including the Las Vegas area in Clark county.  Mitt may pick up some support there.   He has to hope so, since so far this hasn’t been a great night for him as yet.

Fascinating slice of the caucus process on view on CNN right now as they show some of the speeches at the “Adelson event”.   Ron Paul supporters are out in force – you get the full flavor of who they are, with some riffing on the dangers of vaccinations, and others talking about monetary policy, and other spouting the straight libertarian line.

Not surprisingly, Gingrich is running 15 minutes late for his important speech.  This is the story of his campaign so far – lack of organization.  He’ll be late to his own funeral.

The Paulistas are out in force, but CNN is cutting to Newt.  Let’s listen in…

Metaphor of the Night: “I’d turn the safety net into a trampoline….”

You say Nevada, I say Nevada…..

As expected, Newt is playing the electability card.  He’s not withdrawing. He’s doing better than McCain did in 2008 in Nevada.  His plan is to gain “parity” by Texas in terms of delegates.  That’s unlikely, but if he is in the race and wins Texas, that will mean he’s viable.

Gingrich, not surprisingly, offers to debate Romney any time, any place.

Whoa – CNN suddenly updates their results – with 41% of the vote in, Romney drops to 44% of the vote, and Gingrich solidifies his hold on second.  Not a good night for Mitt as yet… .

Lander and Clark counties are the holdouts in Nevada.  Mitt did well in Clark County in 2008, with over 50% of the vote, but in Lander he only pulled about 35% of the vote.   Not looking good for Mitt….

Turnout looks down from 2008 based on current results.  Gingrich is claiming that in Florida he did well in areas when turnout was up, but Romney won in areas where turnout was down.  Is that true, and does that hold up in Nevada?

CNN commentators savaging Newt’s press conference… .

BTW, CNN is guesstimating that Mitt takes 10 delegates, with Newt and Ron winning 3 a piece.  Another brick in the wall…. .

Ok, it’s almost the witching hour, and we don’t even have 50% of the vote reported as yet.   I’m not going to wait on the remaining votes much longer.  If we don’t see anything more soon, I’m going to call it a night.

Entrance polls have Mitt doing very well in Clark County, winning over 60% of the vote there.  I have to think his vote percentage will go up when the Clark votes come in. If it ever comes in.

Ok, we have an update on Lander County – with about 44% of the vote in, Mitt is pulling over 50% there.  But Clark County is stuck at 3% reporting.  I have to think that when it comes in Mitt will get a boost in his final vote proportion.  Given the late hour, however, I’m not going to wait up to see how it turns out.

I’ll be on tomorrow to assess both the actual results, and how the media spins it.  Right now, however, I have to think the lead story is that in a smaller field, the purported front runner did worse than he did in 2008, when he didn’t come close to winning the nomination.  If Mitt’s goal was to demonstrate that he is the inevitable nominee, tonight didn’t do much to convince me.

As always, thanks to everyone for participating and….

Go Patriots!

See you tomorrow…. .Remember, if Clark County comes out strong for Mitt, he still may reach my projection for him and match his 2008 totals.




  1. Just based on anecdotal evidence I’d say it’s likely that a large portion of potential Paulites and Tea Party supporters among the Mormons voted for Romney. I grew up among conservative Mormons in Arizona and have been surprised that a number of my old acquaintances, otherwise active Tea Party supporters and fans of Ron Paul, are backing Romney. I doubt most of them would cite his Mormonism as their primary reason (electability would probably be their first answer), but I’m confident his Mormonism helped him make inroads with them, first in 2008 and again this time.

  2. Jason – Your anecdotal evidence is backed up by data I just cited from the PPP poll from last week – there’s a significant overlap between Mormons, Tea Party supporters and conservatives.

  3. The poor people on CNN are trying desperately to hype tonight’s coverage . . .

    Romney doesn’t care.

  4. Yes, a long night. How about a personal vignette while we wait? Tonight brings to mind my only participation in a caucus for the first time in decades (disclaimer: I decided I had earned my KY whiskey).

    In winter of 1972, I was a junior a Colorado State and one of my housemates was a politico-type (she’s now a judge in Dade Co.) and volunteered our hippy house as a Democratic precinct caucus. My hazy memory is of about a dozen participants, half of which lived there! One guy was crazy for “Scoop” Jackson. Everybody else voted McGovern.

    And now back to the present…

  5. R- With only 10% of the vote reported, we could use more vignettes. I’m not into the scotch yet, but I hear it calling my name.

  6. R – Mitt took 51% in a five person race in 2008. It doesn’t look like he’s going to make it this time in a four person race, unless he gets big return from southern Nevada.

  7. I think that the symbolic value of 2nd place tonight is far greater than has been suggested on CNN and MSNBC given the fact that nothing even approaching “safe” territory for Newt Gingrich surfaces until super Tuesday. Ron Paul’s disruptive presence in the slot behind Romney could throw an already underfunded and precarious Gingrich campaign fueled purely by an innovative, yet unreliable blend of vitriol and egoism permanently off kilter, especially if it’s followed by a similar performance in Colorado. On a different note, Santorum’s concession speech probably shouldn’t be expected any later than Feb 8th….

  8. Cameron – I don’t disagree. At this point, if Newt holds on, this has to be considered a disappointing night for Paul. He’s banking on doing well in caucus states and he outspent Newt on advertising in Nevada.

  9. I think we are like the poor people, Matt–Mitt just doesn’t care about us either (by the way, tuning in from India, where I’ve been for the last week. I think I qualify as your most far flung follower. And I’m doing WORK, man, not on some faculty junket.)

  10. Jeff – What time is it over there? Kudos to you for paying attention to the race. Alas, you are probably right – we are too poor to matter to Mitt.

  11. 9:30 in the morning…and we’ll be watching the Super Bowl tomorrow at 5am…fortunately my first meeting on Monday is not until 10am, so I hope they don’t go to overtime!

  12. Jeff – So, Brady should be giving his victory speech at about 8:30 a.m. at your time. What a way to start the day!

  13. If Mitt’s having a poor showing because he’s not making inroads with Tea Party and conservative Republicans except for those that are Mormon, but the media covers the results as though he IS making inroads with these groups and locking up the nomination, how quickly does this become self-fulfilling prophecy? This seems like the clearest example of the spin trumping the outcome that we’ve seen so far.

  14. Jason L. – that’s the key question, isn’t it? I won’t pretend to have the answer, but I suspect that media spin will not be inconsequential in influencing events down the road.

  15. I’m catching up via the log as I haven’t watched the returns but the news sources are all about Romney’s decisive win – but lacking the nuance. Thanks for the breakdowns! Was at a dinner party tonight and the hostess had a niece who went to Middlebury; I quoted the political science fundamentals at length.

  16. Tarsi – Spreading the word about the fundamentals. Good stuff. It speaks well about your education.

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