Commentary by Chuck Muth: A look at Nevada's Presidential Derby

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With election 2012 in full swing now, let's take a look at the Republican presidential race.

First, beware of polls in Nevada. Unless the pollster is polling the small minority of registered Republicans who are likely to show up at a caucus on caucus day, the results are likely to be way off. What counts in Nevada isn't general public opinion, but pure grassroots organization.

Mitt Romney has it, thanks in large part to Ryan Erwin, one of the two top GOP political consultants in the state, being on his team. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has it, too. But his core supporters continue to be largely volunteers who are, nonetheless, extremely passionate and highly motivated. Exactly the kind of folks who show up at caucus meetings.

Herman Cain has more of a regiment in Nevada than an Army. But multiple, well-received Silver State visits over the past year could pay off should he still be standing in February after Iowa and New Hampshire.

None of the other candidates appears to believe that Nevada is worth competing for, as none has spent much, if any, time or resources here. Nevadans may as well print up milk cartons for Gary Johnson, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum. All have apparently conceded the state to Romney and Paul.

However, recent entrant Rick Perry, governor of Texas, appears to be changing the dynamic quickly - especially with the endorsement of Gov. Brian Sandoval, which likely comes with the services of the state's other top GOP political operative, Mike Slanker.

Slanker has extensive Nevada experience as chief strategist for former Rep. Jon Porter and former Sen. John Ensign. Plus, he's already been actively organizing the state on behalf of Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller, so Perry's learning curve in Nevada will be more like a pitcher's mound than a mountain ridge.

Looks like we have a competitive race in the Nevada Derby after all.

Let me wrap up with this thought: These eight-candidate debates are mildly interesting, but what I'd really like to see would be a round-robin series of one-on-one debates, kinda like college basketball. The No. 1 seed, Romney, goes up against the No. 8 seed, Huntsman. The No. 2 seed, Perry, vs. the No. 7 seed, Santorum. The No. 3 seed, Gingrich, matches up against the No. 6 seed, Bachmann. And the No. 4 seed, Paul, tees it up against the No. 5 seed, Cain.

The winner of Round One - as determined by audience voting, kinda like American Idol - would then face off against the winner of Round Three and the winner of Round Two would go up against the winner of Round Four. That followed by a championship debate to be held at Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve moderated by Rush Limbaugh.

All in favor?

• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of may be reached


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