PJ Media

Nevada, South Carolina - PJM Special Coverage

By Bill Bradley

So, here is what we know. Hillary Clinton won narrowly in the overall vote among Nevada Democrats, thanks to a huge edge among Latinos as they contemplated voting for a black man. But she lost among the overall tally of national convention delegates, as rural Nevada whites proved more than ready to vote for a black guy.

Obama needs to solve the chronic black/brown divide in the Democratic Party which the Clintons have succeeeded in stirring up once again.

Nevada Democrats turned out at three times the rate as Nevada Republicans, who picked Mitt Romney over Silver State runner-up Ron Paul, in a contest in which no other major candidate bothered to campaign other than Romney.

In the key Republican contest of the day, the South Carolina primary — which since Ronald Reagan showed the way in 1980 has proved a pathway to the party’s presidential nomination — Vietnam War hero John McCain emerged victorious over the evangelical populist Mike Huckabee. No one else was close, including Romney, Fred Thompson, and the faded former frontrunner Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani, the hero of 9/11 as New York’s mayor at the time, has set up winter camp in Florida for the past few weeks, after spending millions on TV advertising in New Hampshire and subsequently falling back late last year.

His plan is to take advantage of chaos in the Republican Party, to win Florida and then move into the other big states, such as California, the ultimate prize, on February 5th. But the party may not now be in chaos.

I think that a major endorsement is in the works which could flummox the plans of Giuliani and other candidates

6:28 pm PST — McCain Projected SC Winner by AP, Goes Up Big-Time in Florida

John McCain has finally been projected the winner in South Carolina by AP.

Top McCain sources tell me he is about to go up with one million dollars of TV in Florida.

Where, at the moment, he leads by two points.

5:45 pm PST — Waiting On South Carolina, A Few Thoughts

We’re waiting on the big South Carolina Republican primary results. Since Ronald Reagan took SC in 1980, the Palmetto State’s primary has been a pathway to the Republican presidential nomination.

With 38% of the vote in, John McCain continues to hold a 5-point lead over Mike Huckabee.

And I will tell you now that McCain was up by 4 points in the media exit polls.

Which is not quite enough for the networks to call the race.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, a somewhat blurry picture. Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by about 5 points in a record caucus turnout. But Obama appears to have edged her in the race for national convention delegates.

The first result is because Clinton blitzed Obama with urban Latinos.

The second result is because Obama beat Clinton among rural whites.

Go figure.

Actually, this dynamic, predicted by an old friend of mine a few days ago, is a longstanding pattern in Democratic politics.

Last week saw the Clintons going after Obama for pushing Martin Luther King as the exemplar of racial progress in America, rather than Lyndon Johnson, the president that Hillary, somewhat amazingly, seems to identify with.

Everyone was focused on white/black racial issues. But the Clintons succeeded, instead, in a bank shot. Stirring up the historical antipathy between Latinos and blacks.

Obama now needs to solve the historic black/brown divide as California and other Western states come up. Or there is no way for him to win.

3:54 pm PST — Hold The Phone — Obama Won More Nevada Delegates

I’m on a conference call now with the Obama campaign leadership in which the Associated Press reporter just acknowledged that Barack Obama has probably won more delegates in Nevada than Hillary Clinton!

It’s complex, but basically the answer is that Obama swept rural Nevada. Which, oddly enough, is mostly white.

3:06 pm PST — McCain Looking Pretty Good in South Carolina

It’s always dicey to talk about media exit polls — especially when they are wrong, as with Barack Obama’s “victory” in New Hampshire — but John McCain is looking good in the South Carolina Republican primary.

Mike Huckabee had a big lead there prior to McCain’s big New Hampshire win. Then McCain went on top, by the high single digits.

Then the attacks came against the Vietnam War hero, and his lead dipped, while Huckabee talked up not only his Christian populism, but also the Confederate flag.

At the moment, however, it doesn’t look like Huckabee’s surge will be enough.

3:03 pm PST — Record Nevada Turnout, Hillary Wins Big With Latinos

Today’s Nevada Democratic presidential caucuses saw a massive turnout of participants, nearly 120,000, which is well over even what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had hoped for.

“Today’s caucus was a tremendous success,” said the pumped up, usually phlegmatic Nevadan. “Well over 100,000 Nevadans got out and made their voices heard, including 69 in my hometown of Searchlight.”

And Hillary Clinton won a 5-point victory over Barack Obama. Her winning edge?

Latino voters.

Clinton beat Obama by 3 to 1 among Latinos.

Which was quite interesting, in that Obama was backed by two potent unions with many Latino members, the culinary workers and the service employees.

But the turnout at the at-large caucus sites, casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, which were set up to allow lower-income casino workers to participate while working a busy holiday weekend — this is Martin Luther King Day weekend in Vegas, a big-time holiday there — was less than expected.

And Clinton confounded expectations, essentially matching Obama along the Vegas Strip and sweeping to a big win in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

This more than matched Obama’s wins in most of Nevada’s other counties.

Hillary’s ability to win big among Latinos, even when many of their leaders, such as in the unions I mentioned, went with Obama, raises very interesting questions about the internal racial politics of the Democratic Party as the first very serious black candidate for president continues his closely fought contest with the former first lady.

1:28 pm PST — Hillary Headed for Narrow Nevada Victory

Hillary Clinton is headed for a relatively narrow win the Nevada Democratic presidential caucuses over Barack Obama. Reports from around the state indicate that the big labor forces backing Obama found it tough to deliver for him.

At issue, Latino workers pushed to vote for an African American.

And so the race issue rears its head in yet another way this year.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney wins in a race uncontested by the other candidates, who see the real fight today in the historically determinative South Carolina Republican presdidential primary, where John McCain and Mike Huckabee are locked in a tight race.

11:57 am PDT — Vegas Strip Workers Defy Clintons

[To watch Nevada Democratic presidential caucus results in near real-time, click on this link]

As this is written, low-income workers are streaming to unique voting places, in defiance of the wishes of the most recent former President and First Lady of the United States.

Bellhops, cashiers, maids, dancers, the whole panoply of workers who make the casino economy of Las Vegas — America’s fastest-growing big city — go, are gathering now for their Democratic presidential caucuses at casino locations up and down the Las Vegas Strip. As they do so, they do it in defiance of former President Bill Clinton, who vociferously backed a failed lawsuit to block their ability to vote today.

A federal court ruled Thursday that Nevada’s Democratic caucuses go forward as planned. This includes the at-large caucuses on the Vegas Strip, which are easier for casino workers to participate in.

A Clinton ally at the helm of the state teachers union, without consulting with Las Vegas teachers union colleagues, filed suit to block the Vegas Strip caucuses. Former President Bill Clinton weighed in heatedly on behalf of the lawsuit.

The Clinton campaign agreed to the rules when they were devised last year. But since then, Barack Obama has emerged as a serious threat and the Culinary Workers Union – which backs Obama – represents the casino workers, and is backing Barack Obama. So, as the saying goes, that was then, this is now.

08:55 am PDT — Game Day

Today is another big day in presidential politics, with the South Carolina Republican primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses, which I’ll be covering throughout the day with correspondents and contacts in both states. The polls show a tight race in South Carolina between John McCain and Mike Huckabee, with the final tracking poll from last night a dead heat. In Nevada, it’s a tight race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Although in the Silver State, no one really knows how to poll. Will there 9000 votes, as in the 2004 Nevada caucus, won handily by John Kerry? Or will there be 100,000, as in Nevadan Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s arguably wet dream?

Having done and run successful campaigns in Nevada, I will tell you that, no matter what turnout scenario one projects, in a one-on-one race, Obama beats Clinton. But John Edwards insists on staying in the mix. So there we are. Nevada Republicans are also caucusing today. But few have taken that seriously, focusing instead on the historically key South Carolina primary. Ever since Ronald Reagan’s victory there in 1980, the Palmetto State has been a key indicator of future presidents. This time around, there have been several leaders in this first Southern primary.

Today, it’s “Game Day: Nevada and South Carolina.” I’ll be anchoring PJ Media network’s South Carolina Republican primary and Nevada Democratic caucus coverage throughout the day on Saturday, weaving together reports and information from correspondents and contacts inside and outside Nevada and South Carolina. The anchor coverage will be linked to and mirrored here on NWN. This will be a continuation of the “Game Day: Iowa,” “Game Day: New Hampshire,” and “Game Day: Michigan And Vegas” packages.

John McCain finished the last full day of primary campaigning yesterday with a big rally at the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. Although Mike Huckabee is giving him a good race there, it seems like it looks pretty good for the Vietnam War hero.

But this morning’s tracking poll from Zogby for Reuters shows that McCain’s lead there has dropped into essentially a dead heat with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Fred Thompson, who draws from Huckabee, appears to be stalling out again. Mitt Romney, the victor in home state Michigan, is a distant third in this first Southern test.

The old Reagan coalition is fracturing, with McCain taking the national security vote with his seemingly prescient advocacy of a new strategy in Iraq and Vietnam War hero credentials, Huckabee taking the social conservative vote with his genuine stances there, and Romney the economic conservative vote. But in South Carolina, home of dirty tricks, McCain is again the victim of anonymous push polling and ads making him out to be a secret traitor. Sigh.

Now to Nevada. It seems that Barack Obama, who closed out the day yesterday with a huge rally at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, is concerned about the impact of gambling on poor people. And that Hillary Clinton has decided to use that against him in her latest kitchen sink-and-all effort to eke out a victory, as she barely did in New Hampshire. And that, although the Clinton campaign is actually the best campaign in communicating what it wants to communicate, it has neglected to communicate that part of its message to me. Which, of course, it is using, in a highly targeted way, in its multi-faceted effort – failed lawsuit vociferously and embarrassingly backed by the former president of the United States and all – to try to eke out a win in Nevada. Where Hillary led by 25 points two months ago.

Meanwhile, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry campaigned yesterday in Nevada for Obama. He appeared with Michelle Obama at an afternoon town hall meeting in Las Vegas. Kerry, incidentally, has fond memories of Vegas. I remember talking with him there when he was campaigning in 2004, where he easily won the caucus and nearly won the general. He hit Vegas for a special trip before shipping out for the Vietnam War. Won some money, too. Or so he remembered it.

Here is how the day plays out.

Nevada’s lightly contested Republican caucuses — only Romney has campaigned here of late — begin at 9 AM Pacific time. Results should be known sometime in the noon hour in the Silver State.

The much more important Nevada Democratic caucuses begin at 11:30 AM Pacific time. Groupings will form in the noon hour. Results will start to come in to the Nevada Democratic Party around 2 PM Pacific time.

In South Carolina, the polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM Eastern time. Three hours earlier in the Pacific time zone.