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Democratic Caucus Looms With Less Than A Month To Go

"It does seem... that [Biden] and [Sanders] are out in front, but a lot can change... before we get to Nevada," Messerly said.
Paul Boger

There’s officially less than one month until Democratic voters across the Silver State are expected to come together to select their party’s preferred candidate for president. But with only 31 days until the Nevada caucus, some presidential hopefuls still have a lot of work to do if they hope to win the First in the West contest. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke to Megan Messerly, The Nevada Independent’s lead 2020 reporter, to help break down the race so far.

Over the last few months, a small handful of prominent candidates dropped out of the nominating race because they were unable to garner enough support to effectively fundraise and campaign. While those candidates' polling numbers were limited, Messerly says a number of the more prominent supporters have already moved on. 

“It’s an interesting barometer to look at where support is,” said Messerly. “By far, former Vice President Joe Biden has the most significant number of endorsements from prominent folks here in the state. So, you know, those few folks switching over hasn't exactly made a difference if you're looking at the race in that perspective." 

Those endorsements also reflect the most recent polling, which shows Biden with a significant lead.

“We have this recent Fox News poll, which was the first Nevada poll to come out of the new year,” said Messerly. “That showed Joe Biden with 23 percent support, followed by Bernie Sanders in second place with 17 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer, who people might've seen his ads on TV or gotten his mailers — he's been doing a lot of ads here — they're actually tied for third place. I thought that was pretty interesting to see the effect of Steyer's investment here in Nevada.”

While Steyer has made inroads across the Silver State in recent months, other candidates have yet to gain much traction. Minn. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, for example, has seen her polls hit the double digits in Iowa. Yet in Nevada, the moderate Democrat has yet to get more than a few percentage points. Messerly says Klobuchar is essentially a latecomer to the Silver State.

“Some of the other candidates have you sort of run this steady campaign,” she said, “but [Klobuchar] has really focused so much time and effort on Iowa and not Nevada. She didn't have staff here, [and] only recently started hiring up, got a state director, got a political director, has an office now, and they're actively organizing on the ground. I think the question for her will be, what happens in Iowa and how does that carry through to New Hampshire? That could make a difference here.”

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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