Nevada Caucus Chaos

A campaign blog.
Jan. 14 2008 6:19 PM

Nevada Caucus Chaos

The lawsuit filed by a Nevadateachers’ union on Friday to keep Vegas Strip workers (the place, not theprofession) from caucusing in their workplaces is making a lot of people lookand sound crazy. But hey, that’s a caucus.

The main reason for the rage: The lawsuit is transparentlypolitical. The Nevada State Education Association hasn’t endorsed acandidate yet, but many of its leaders openly support Hillary Clinton. Now that theCulinary Workers union has endorsed Barack Obama, the nine new "At-Large"precincts set up in Vegas hotels—where a vast number of culinary workers willlikely turn out—threaten Clinton’sprospects. The plaintiffs claim that these caucus-goers would havedisproportionate influence compared to Nevadans who caucus in their homedistricts. But seeing as they never complained about this fact until the CulinaryWorkers endorsed Obama, their last-minute objection looks suspect.


Obama practically turned it into a civil rights issue :"Are we going to let a bunch of lawyers try to prevent us from bringing aboutchange in America?"A group of Nevadateachers agreed with him, firing off an angry letter to their own union asking it to drop thesuit.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton weighedin in the name of fairness: "I think the rules ought to be the same foreveryone. I question why you would ever have a temporary caucus site and limitto a certain kind of workers." 

But even if the lawsuit is political, that doesn’t mean it’swrong. The plaintiffs’ main contention—that voters in at-large precincts willhave more influence than other Nevadans—may well be accurate. All Nevada precinctsallocate one delegate per 50 registered voters; the at-large precincts wouldlikely allocate more than that, according to the lawsuit (PDF here ).

But then again, caucus math is arbitrary in the first place. Who came up with the15 percent viability requirement? Why hold the caucus at 11 a.m., instead ofafter dinner? Why not create at-large precincts all over the state, not just on the Strip?The whole system is so random that this deviation from sanity seems no moreoffensive than any of the others. And seeing as this is Nevada's maiden voyage with the caucus system, there's no precedent. Bon voyage!

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.