Elections 2016: How Iowa Affects Nevada's Caucuses

Feb 5, 2016

Credit Erik Hersman / Flickr, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

As the presidential candidate pool starts to thin after the Iowa caucuses, the nation is now looking to New Hampshire. And in just a few weeks, all eyes will be on Nevada.

Our News Director Michelle Billman talked with two local political scientists to hear their thoughts on which candidates will resonate in the Silver State.  They include Eric Herzik from the University of Nevada, Reno and Fred Lokken from Truckee Meadows Community College.

In Iowa, we saw Ted Cruz come out in front of Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. We also waited to learn that Hillary Clinton had eked out a win over Bernie Sanders. But what does it all mean for Nevada?

TMCC's Fred Lokken says, so far, Bernie Sanders is relying on the young, college student vote, which isn't something Nevada is known for.

"The energy levels in a state like Nevada are different than what Bernie's been encountering," adds Lokken. "I love our college students, but I think they're wired differently in places like New Hampshire and Iowa. Although we will find a passionate connection, I don't think it'll be quite to the same degree, mostly because we're far more cynical about politics and we engrain that early."

UNR's Herzik points out that Hillary Clinton has another advantage in Nevada because her campaign efforts have been much more robust.

"She has on-the-ground organization that isn't going to rely necessarily on college students showing up," says Herzik. "She's been here for a year. I was contacted last spring by organizers for her and they were doing trainings."

On the Republican side, both Herzik and Lokken say Marco Rubio could be favored by Nevada voters. 

"He's fundraising like crazy, getting some of the key endorsements," explains Lokken. "And there's a certain increased energy level when you hear about Rubio as opposed to Cruz, so I think Rubio is the one that could emerge as the star."

Rubio also appeals to a wider range of voters, which Herzik says could help him prevail over Ted Cruz.

"It's not a very broad-based campaign. I think they're going to hammer the rurals and they're going to try to get the evangelical vote; although, in Nevada, that historically has just not been that great."

As for Donald Trump? Both of these political scientists question whether Trump's ability to draw big crowds for his rallies will come through for him at the polls.