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Among Early Democratic Contests, Nevada Most Reflects Party Makeup

In less than a year Democrats — including those in Nevada — will have begun picking their presidential nominee.

An analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight shows that of the four states kicking off the party’s presidential nomination process — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — only the Silver State comes close to reflecting the party’s demographics.

The contest to pick a nominee begins, as it has for decades, with the Iowa caucuses followed by the New Hampshire primary, both set for the first half of February.

“These are two of the whitest states in the country, which makes their populations a poor reflection of the increasingly diverse Democratic Party,” writes Geoffrey Skelley, a FiveThirtyEight elections analyst.

While they're a poor reflection of the party, Skelley doesn't believe the process will be changed to a state with more diversity like Nevada.

“Because of all the different actors that have to make decisions about figuring out who goes when, it’s very difficult to change that," he said, "Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s the way it is.”

It is the way it is because of how the states have established the timeline over the decades. Skelley said it is not a top-down process. He said the national party doesn't tell the states when they're going to hold a primary or caucus.

The "first in the West" Nevada caucus follows on Feb. 22, with the South Carolina primary a week later.

The FiveThirtyEight analysis says Nevada is fifth from the top among the states for mirroring the demographics of the broader party. South Carolina comes in at 46, largely because it has few Hispanic voters, who make up nearly 9 percent of the party as a whole.

The state that mirrored the party the closest is Illinois, but Skelley believes it unlikely that it would become one of the first states to hold a primary or a caucus. One of the main reasons is the price. Campaigning in a large state with a large urban center is much more expensive than doing the same thing in the smaller states of Iowa and New Hampshire.


Geoffrey Skelley, elections analyst, FiveThirtyEight 

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