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Three Weeks Ahead Of Nev. Caucus, Voters Struggle To Decide

Vote here sign in front of a caucus site.
Erik Hersman
Flickr, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic
Early voting for Nevada's Democratic Caucus starts Saturday, February 15.

We're days away from the Iowa Democratic Caucuses, and weeks away in Nevada. At the Nevada Democratic Party’s Reno office, about 25 volunteers are learning how to run a caucus event. On Feb. 22, they will show up at their precinct and help organize the votes.

While volunteers can’t caucus because they’ll be running these events, they can still early vote.

Volunteer Fran Edison said she is concerned about candidates who are further left on the spectrum.

“The 'way left’ is just not going to cut it,” Edison said. She’s still deciding between Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.

“[There are] different individuals that have very strong points and very strong issues to relate to,” Edison said, “but at the same time, I have to pick the one that can do the most middle-of-the-road work with Congress. In other words, work on both sides of the aisle.”

Mike Harris is also volunteering. He said he wants somebody who can beat President Donald Trump, which is why he plans to vote moderate, too. His pick? Klobuchar.

“She’s won in areas that Trump won by double digits, and she’s never lost an election. I just like her,” Harris said. While Harris is planning to vote for Klobuchar, he said he actually agrees more with Joe Biden, issue by issue.

“Right now, I believe that he’s physically not up to the task, and it scares me a little bit that he might be our candidate,” Harris said. “I believe Amy would tear Trump up in a debate. I think Biden might have a hard time with him.”

The room wasn’t totally full of steadfast moderates, though. Caitlin Thiede is wrestling with the decision for her first caucus ever. For her, it’s between Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang.

“Andrew Yang, he’s really logical ... I love his take on finances and using money [and] reallocating it responsibly. [He's] holding people accountable ... and giving back to the people,” Thiede said. “Bernie Sanders has the environmental side, but I don’t know much about him. So honestly, the reason I started caucusing is to hold myself accountable, to learn more about the candidates.”

“I’m leaning towards Bernie, for sure,” said Justin Zuniga, a Reno resident. Zuniga said while Sanders may not be able to appeal to some swing voters, he’s betting Sanders can still win.

“I feel like Bernie Sanders is absolutely the most aligned with social issues [and] Native American issues,” Zuniga said. “Personally, speaking for myself, you have to vote for your conscience. That’s where it’s all at.”

A FiveThirtyEight average of recent polls shows Sanders slightly behind Biden in Nevada by about a percent and a half, but that could all change after Iowa’s caucuses on Monday. Before any boxes are checked in Nevada, there are still weeks to go, and many more minds to make up.

Bree Zender is a former host and reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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