Barely News: Dems' Nevada Turnout Down by One-Third From 2008

The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein is reporting that "Turnout in Nevada's Democratic caucuses dropped by about one third on Saturday as compared to 2008, raising questions about a lack of enthusiasm among the party's voters." There have been precious few other acknowledgments of this in the establishment press.

Based on the Democratic Party's less than transparent presentation of the caucuses' results, there's apparently no way to directly confirm what Klein reported. Klein relied on "an estimate provided to the Washington Examiner by the Nevada Democratic Party." How Klein had to get his information provides a window into the strange Nevada caucus process the press is failing to communicate. Instead they seem obsessed with spinning Hillary Clinton's alleged five- or six-point "victory" (and yes, the word belongs in quotes) as something far more significant than it really is.

Here are the first three paragraphs from Klein's report:

Turnout in Nevada's Democratic caucuses dropped by about one third on Saturday as compared to 2008, raising questions about a lack of enthusiasm among the party's voters.

About 80,000 Nevadans turned out to vote in the party's cacuses in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged out Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to an estimate provided to the Washington Examiner by the Nevada Democratic Party. That is down sharply from the roughly 118,000 who voted in 2008, when Clinton beat then Sen. Barack Obama.

In 2008, the strong turnout for Democrats in their nominating contests ended up forshadowing a large level of energy and enthusiasm on the Democratic side that carried over into the general election.

What do the results seen at new sites throughout the land mean? Here's just one example, found at Politico:

PoliticoNevCaucusResults022016

(Sidebar: The 95.3 percent "reporting" has been that way for about 12 hours. Why is that?)

Some readers might believe that the totals presented above, usually unlabeled, represent actual votes. They don't.

The Nevada Democratic Party only reports "county convention delegate totals to the media and not actual votes, as the Iowa Democratic Party did in its caucus."

Even the Wikipedia entry from which I obtained that quote is confusing, in that it presents the results of the 2008 contest as the "popular vote." It is obviously no such thing.

Given the relatively close race, it's more than a little likely that Mrs. Clinton's actual vote margin could have been at least a few points lower, or a few points higher, than the county convention delegate totals would indicate. Given her status as the establishment's candidate, it's reasonable to believe that the party would gladly have leaked the "popular vote" results if they were more in her favor than the officially reported county delegate count.

Additionally, the enthusiasm the press is generating over Mrs. Clinton's "win" should be, but isn't being, tempered by several real-world factors, some of which include:

  • Peer pressure — as is the case in Iowa, "Caucus participants must publicly state their opinion and vote."
  • The large amount of time involved in attending a caucus, which favors retirees, students, and those who don't have jobs or family commitments.
  • The lack of absentee voting, which shuts out, among others, members of the military.
  • The low overall turnout reported by Klein, which would not appear to bode well for Democrats' chances in the general election in an important swing state.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.