What Happens in Vegas…Actually Matters

Ah, the morning after, and the news is abuzz with the results of the Democratic caucuses in Nevada.  I’m all for people fighting it out to analyze the results (popular vote doesn’t equal the number of delegate votes?  What is this, the electoral college?), but for me, the bigger story is this, courtesy of the NY Times:

The contest in Nevada drew record turnout among Democratic caucusgoers, a reflection of the intensity of the race. In hundreds of precinct caucuses, including nine casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, about 116,000 voters took part in the first Western contest in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, 10 times the amount in the 2004 caucuses here.

Let’s say it again: “10 times the amount” that showed up in 2004!  It should come as no surprise to anyone that people show up when they have a voice, and it’s happening here for at least two reasons: 1) the race for the nomination is so close that people actually think it matters if they caucus and 2) Nevada’s primary is so early that it has a chance to influence other voters.  Good going, Harry Reid.

All of this is incredibly heartening, as the earlier reports coming out of Las Vegas pre-caucus were all about how the state was under-prepared and voters had no idea what to do.  My insiders (okay, my mom) tell me that surprisingly, people at the precincts (okay, her precinct, at which she was a interim chair) were motivated and ready to caucus.

So, let the New York Times make snarky comments about the how they did it on the Strip:

Voters not only went to scores of schools and community centers across the state, but they also weaved their way through slot machines and bar stools to participate. Maids and cooks, bellmen and bartenders, nearly all of whom wore their uniforms and matching name tags, were granted a lunch break to attend the caucuses.

I don’t care if the showgirls came with their headdresses and spangled tights—they showed!  (Actually, I’d have paid good money to see that.)  And thus, the first Western state to weigh in on the 2008 presidential election showed that despite associations of Mob bosses, prostitution and gambling, political participation can and will happen anywhere when people are motivated.

And thus I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

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