Here is my sister's experience in the bizarro world of caucusing in Las Vegas (email paste):
"I arrived at my neighborhood caucus location promptly at 11AM. The whole situation felt unorganized. No one knew how to tell what precinct you were in. Everytime I asked someone, they kept telling me to consult the map. There was no map to be seen. I wandered around for 10-minutes trying to find out where to go. Finally, I figured out where my line was & got in place. I helped out quite a few other aimless souls who could not get any direction from the caucus coordinators who were all volunteers and not very well trained. The guy manning our precinct was very loud & angry; he had absolutely no patience with anyone. Most of his answers were, "I don't know" or "I really don't care, I'm just a volunteer". I could hear angry people yelling at any volunteer who would listen that they don't know where to go, where are the maps, why is this so confusing? While standing in line, we were all solicited for donations from the "Nevada State Democratic Party". After we signed in and got a "presidential preference card", we were allowed to sit down. On one side of the card you mark your first choice & on the other side your second choice.
"The caucus itself started 25-minutes late. To my horror, the same frustrated angry volunteer we checked in with was the one up on stage telling everyone what to do. We listened to him calling our state Nevader and referring to us as Nevadians . According to him, this was a "qwockcass". Well, better than "carcass", the body of a dead animal, which was about how we were starting to feel. This outside surrogate kept pushing his almost unintelligible views on us until the caucus coordinators literally yelled at him to back off!
"The captains split everyone up into your first choice group which could include undecideds. I went to the Edwards group where there were only 8 people, out of about 130 total in my precinct. They counted up the groups & said, you need 20 people to be a "viable" candidate (15%?). After the first grouping, all the undecided people and the unviable candidate people were asked to sit in one section to be harrassed by the Obama and Clinton people to join their group. No one mentioned anything about our second choices which we had already marked on our "presidential preference cards", so what was the purpose of that?
"We listened as various people persuaded us about Obama and Clinton. The folks that spoke on behalf of Obama sounded pretty good. But then a woman got up & spoke on behalf of Clinton and really blew everyone away. She was very professional, she knew her stuff, and she really connected with the people. When they did a final count, it was Obama 45, Clinton 70, and undecided 3. (DK note: what happened to the other 12 people? Did they think they had already voted & left?)
"The whole thing took over 90-minutes. Do I need to say I prefer a regular Primary to this? Out of all my "neighbors" at my "neighborhood caucus", I only recognized 1 from our block, 2 church ladies, and a guy from work. I heard a lot about "Change", but only saw disorganization. " ~~ submitted by KKC
Observation of a caucuser reported in Las Vegas Review-Journal tonight: Clinton supporters who signed in voters would not sign in Obama supporters. Then Obama supporters were told they could leave after turning in their ballot. Doesn't this mean they weren't around for the final count?
Another caucuser sent this into the Las Vegas Review-Journal: No one seemed to know their precinct number. Volunteers kept referring to maps which no one could find. We heard later there were two maps, but we never saw them. We more or less organized ourselves into lines for signing in.
The R-J reports there were 200 separate troubling incidents at caucus sites in Clark County Nevada, including doors being closed early and ID being requested in a non-uniform fashion. Even the Big Dog himself roamed The Strip, using the full weight and majesty of a former president to persuade Culinary Workers to defy their bosses' endorsement of Obama.
For a "fun" report live from one of the famous Las Vegas Strip caucus locations, don't miss Wonkette's Live Blogging Nevada Caucus at The Wynn Hotel: link This is a friggin' hilarious democracy we got ourselves. Look at her linked pictures & vid, too. What a way to vote!
OK, so how to analyze the results? The good news is that 2 of every 3 Nevadans who caucused, chose a Democrat instead of a Republican for President. This is an overwhelming vote for a new direction in America. The final results were: Clinton 51%, Obama 45%, and Edwards 4%.
Some insight into the Obama results might be obtained by looking at the county-by-county results. Obama won these counties: Carson City (capitol of Nevada) 51%, Churchill 49%, Douglas 50%, Elko 63%, Esmeralda 63%, Eureka 49%, Humbolt 51%, Pershing 48%, Storey 54%, Washoe (where Reno is) 50%, and White Pine 45%. Clinton won the other 6 counties, with the biggest prize being Clark County (where Las Vegas is). It seems she won Clark County by having a superior organization and professional surrogates. Obama did better in the northern part of the state which is a bit odd to me, since that part of the state tends to be more conservative.
I hate to point this out, but another thing that worked in her favor was having Saturday caucuses where you had to show up by 11 AM. The reason I hate to point this out is the tremendous support Obama has among students, who as I well remember from my college days, are prone to sleep in on Saturdays. Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Tell me I'm wrong.
But how to explain Edwards' poor showing? Last week's polls had him at 29%. A couple days ago, he had dropped down to the 'teens. Why did his support dissipate? Can we really blame this on the media for unjustly narrowing people's minds down to only looking at the top 2 candidates? I believe there is some truth in this because people generally don't want to vote for an unviable candidate (just ask Kucinich). But I also wonder if the caucus system itself isn't really to blame. There is much peer pressure from the moment you arrive. You are being asked to stand out in a way that normal primary voters are not. Then you are expected to try and persuade others to stand with you. Do caucus states think people are incapable of making up their own minds?
Lastly, about Edwards: CNN quoted entrance polls of 12-18% of caucusers saying as they went into their caucus location that they were going to caucus for Edwards. Their resolve seems to have disappeared as they entered the caucus rooms and saw the larger crowds for Obama and Clinton. This is very disappointing, but perhaps inevitable. I had hoped for a better showing, so that he would keep accumulating enough delegates to affect the convention. Would a normal primary have yielded Edwards enough votes in Nevada to award him delegates? We'll never know for sure. Super Tuesday is looming large on the horizon.
Click here for the current Democratic delegate scorecard (which includes committed super delegates).
******** Non-Nevadans can skip the balance of this post, it won't make any sense to you unless you sang it everyday in elementary school. Instead of reading it, might I suggest a practice session in pronouncing Nevada? Neh-VA-duh! The "VA" rhymes with bad, dad, or lad; it's not "aw" like "awful". I can't tell you how many earaches I have after hearing it butchered by the TV pundits all week. ********
OK, for old-times sake, and for my Nevada family, here is the Nevada State Song (aren't you glad you don't have to listen to me sing it):
Home Means Nevada (cue the harmonica):
Way out in the land of the setting sun, Where the wind blows wild and free, There's a lovely spot, just the only one That means home sweet home to me. If you follow the old Kit Carson trail, Until desert meets the hills, Oh you certainly will agree with me, It's the place of a thousand thrills.
Home means Nevada, Home means the hills, Home means the sage and the pine. Out by the Truckee's silvery rills, Out where the sun always shines. Here is the land which I love the best, Fairer than all I can see. Deep in the heart of the golden west, Home means Nevada to me!
Whenever the sun at the close of day, Colors all the western sky, Oh my heart returns to the desert grey, And the mountains towering high. Where the moon beams play in shadowed glen, With the spotted fawn and doe, All the live long night until morning light, It's the loveliest place I know.
Home means Nevada, Home means the hills, Home means the sage and the pines. Out by the Truckee's silvery rills, Out where the sun always shines. There is the land that I love the best, Fairer than all I can see. Right in the heart of the golden west, Home means Nevada to me!