Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rural areas could tip the balance in Saturday's Democratic caucus in Nevada

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are preparing for Saturday's Nevada caucus by trying to connect with the state's rural areas, Kurtis Lee reports for the Los Angeles Times. Only eight percent of the state's Democrats live in rural areas, but they account for 12 percent of caucus delegates. Rebecca Lambe, a senior strategist to Sen. Harry Reid, the state’s top Democrat, who is neutral in the race, said candidates can't take any part of the state for granted. She told Lee, “In a tight race, the delegates up for grabs in the rural areas will matter." (Map from Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book)

Clinton won the popular vote in Nevada's rural areas in 2008, but lost in delegates to President Obama, "whose support in rural counties gave him the edge," Lee writes. Clinton staffers "went on a 1,200-mile 'listening tour' of rural counties last summer, and Clinton’s team has opened field offices, held meet-and-greets at diners and dispatched top-name supporters including Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who trekked to rural northern Nevada this week. Clinton herself traveled Monday to Elko, a tiny gold-mining community in northeast Nevada with fewer than 5,000 registered Democrats. She addressed, among other things, guns and federal land rights; the U.S. government own 85 percent of Nevada’s land."

"Sanders only recently deployed staff to corners of Nevada—his campaign opened an office in Pahrump last month—but has beefed up its efforts, flying in staffers who worked in Iowa and New Hampshire and dispatching them to rural outposts," Lee writes. "Campaign signs supporting him appear sporadically through town. Lynn Warner, a retired clinical neuropsychologist, traveled from San Diego in mid-January to volunteer for Sanders in Pahrump. She estimates walking more than 10 miles each day along gravel roads, knocking on doors of houses, some of which sit on more than an acre of land." She told Lee, “People need jobs here. They want that gap between rich and poor to close." (Read more)

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