Poll: Only one-third of Nevadans plan to take part in caucuses
RENO (AP) – Only 33 percent of Nevada’s voters said they would definitely or probably attend their party’s Jan. 19 presidential caucuses, according to a statewide poll published Sunday.
In a survey of 600 likely voters conducted for a Reno newspaper, 39 percent said they may not or will not participate.
Democrats are more likely to take part than Republicans – by a 40 percent to 31 percent margin.
The poll was conducted Nov. 16-19 by Maryland-based Research 2000. The margin of error is 4 percent.
Nevada will play a more important role in determining the nominees after its caucuses were moved up to Jan. 19, following Iowa on Jan. 3 and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8.
Despite Nevadans’ reluctance to attend a caucus, the number of Nevada voters paying close attention to the presidential race has increased significantly since August.
Of those surveyed, 66 percent said they were following the campaign, compared with 47 percent who were paying attention in August.
Political analysts attributed the lack of interest in the caucuses to various factors, including the complexity of the caucus process and a general distaste for the presidential campaign.
“The caucus is a demanding form of political participation,” said Dennis Goldford, a professor of politics at Drake University in Iowa. “You don’t have huge numbers of people from either party turning out.”
A respectable showing in the Nevada caucus would be 20 percent of registered voters, Goldford said. That equals about 84,000 Democrats and 82,000 Republicans.
Other political experts said they expect closer to 10 percent participation.
In 2004, fewer than 10,000 Nevada Democrats – a record number – attended precinct caucuses. There was no Republican primary that year because President Bush faced no challenge within his party.
Instead of a traditional primary election, Nevada Republicans and Democrats will gather the morning of Jan. 19 in neighborhood caucus meetings to elect delegates to their party’s county convention.
For Democrats, the candidate who wins the most delegates will be declared the caucus winner. For Republicans, the results of a straw ballot will determine the winner.
Republican Nancy Pruitt of Sparks said she has no interest in taking part in the caucus and is dismayed that the campaign already is in full swing.
“I don’t like politics,” she said. “It’s too early, and it’s a little dirty. The election isn’t until November next year, but we still have to listen to all this.”