Democratic presidential candidates crisscrossed Nevada last week, with fewer than 140 days left until the party’s presidential caucus.
In Las Vegas for a gun forum, Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack. In Reno, former Vice President Joe Biden responded to demands from President Trump for an investigation of Biden and his family.
Professor Fred Lokken of Truckee Meadows Community College, a longtime observer of Nevada politics, said the state has become even more important because of the new structure for Super Tuesday in March.
"Both Texas and California have moved their events much earlier in this election process," he said, "So, a state like Nevada is more important to candidates. They've got to get more of these early victories to have a momentum going into that Super Tuesday."
Lokken also believes Nevada is no longer a purple state but has turned completely blue - except in the rural areas. Much of that shift can be attributed to the number of people moving from California and other states to Nevada, both in the north and the south.
Plus, Lokken said the people who are moving here came from places more engaged in the process.
"Generally, people vote in other parts of the country," he said, "They have not historically voted if they've lived in Nevada. So, they come here kind of assuming that they're going to be engaged in the process."
Lokken believes with the changes in voter registration in 2020 it will be easier for the political parties to capture these new residents and he believes most of those newly registered voters will be Democrats.
And as far as what those voters care about, Lokken believes health care is still the number one issue, followed by immigration. The economy is also becoming more important as talk of a possible recession gains strength.
Lokken said the four candidates who have the strongest ground game in Nevada for the 2020 election cycle are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
He said, for Harris, Nevada is the firewall for her campaign, meaning she must win in Nevada, or get at least second place, to stay in the race.
Fred Lokken, professor, Truckee Meadows Community College
You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.