Nevada GOP Caucuses Boast Record Turnout

by Chris Tognotti

Tuesday night, with the whole country focusing on Nevada, we got yet another decisive, potentially game-breaking outcome in the Republican presidential primary process. It wasn't a traditional primary, sure ― the Silver State holds caucuses, just like Iowa did when it kicked off the 2016 voting season ― but it still hammered home just how much passion is swirling right now around the victor and current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. Simply put, the GOP Nevada caucuses boasted record voter turnout, in keeping with a trend which could give the Democrats good reason to feel both envious and fearful.

Make no mistake — when you compare how things have been going in the respective parties, it may be high time to get a little tense if you're a Democratic voter. At the very least, it's fair time to start feeling some concern, especially given how things have been going with turnout (and ostensible voter enthusiasm) so far. Here's the comparison between the Democratic and Republican sides of the race in Nevada (the Democrats held their caucuses in the state on February 20th, days before the GOP got around to it, and won't vote again until February 27th, in South Carolina).

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
  • For the Democrats, a total of about 80,000 people came out to caucus. This looks like a sturdy number on paper, but it's striking when you compare it to 2008, when about 120,000 people turned out. In other words, eight years on from Clinton vs. Obama, the state's Democrats aren't quite as animated by Clinton vs. Sanders.
  • For the Republicans, the total number of caucus-goers is lower ― just about 75,000 in all ― but that represents a much better figure for them. It was the highest turnout the GOP has ever had in a Nevada caucus (though keep in mind that the event only dates back to 2008), besting the mere 33,000 or so in 2008. And that sky-high turnout had exactly the effect that conventional wisdom would suggest, vaulting Trump into the winner's circle yet again.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As a measure of relative enthusiasm, this is a bit distressing for any progressively-minded voters out there. It's not necessarily surprising, given the raucous insurgent campaign Trump is running ― he's driving a tremendous amount of traffic to the polls, setting aside the numerous reports of some, let's say, overzealous supporters on Tuesday night. But isn't the progressive left meant to be fired up as all hell, too? For all Bernie Sanders' claims about starting a "political revolution," his clash with Clinton is clearly lagging behind the high-water marks of the 2008 race.

Make no mistake; the words "enthusiasm gap" should send a chill through the spine of any likely Democratic voter, because it's beginning to look like there'll be a lot on the line come November. Needless to say that President Trump taking calls in the White House one year from now should be a horrifying vision for any progressive voter, or simply anyone concerned with the proper functioning of the country. And at this point, absent a major shakeup in the race (probably dependent entirely on all but one of his rivals dropping out) there aren't many credible scenarios for some other Republican to knock Trump off his perch.

Believe it or not, both primaries and caucuses can be laugh-out-loud hilarious. Don't believe us? Have a listen to Bustle's "The Chat Room" podcast...