(Chuck Muth) – Without delay, on to the Nevada Republican Party’s infamous presidential caucus last night. Some observations…
First, it’s clear that enthusiasm for Trump’s nomination for Republicans is far greater than enthusiasm for Biden among Democrats – even though twice as many Democrats turned out for their primary than did Republicans for their caucus.
Thousands of Republicans stood in long lines for a long time to cast their ballot for the former president in an election clearly rigged in Trump’s favor by the leadership of the Nevada GOP.
In the end, he garnered Saddam Hussein-level numbers in the 98% territory.
On the other hand, the culmination of the caucus put an exclamation point on the Nevada GOP’s “Chaos Caucus!” It clearly was unprepared to conduct the caucus in a timely and orderly fashion.
Republican voter Marcus Penegrass told a reporter that the “people in charge could have done a better job.”
Especially since this wasn’t the Nevada GOP’s first rodeo. As the party leaders incessantly bloviated in the lead-up to caucus night, running caucuses is how they’ve “always done things.”
Bottom line: Not enough caucus sites or volunteers to conduct the election. Too much confusion as to where to vote or how – or even why, since it was a done deal.
As caucus sites closed last night, I received a few na-na-na-na-boo-boos from party members (“Eat crow. Caucus was great.”) and predictions that turnout would be over 100,000 people.
But according to the Nevada GOP’s website this morning, only 37,317 votes had been cast and counted…
Yet there are media reports this morning that the final total – which was not posted on the party’s website – was closer to 59,000 votes cast.
So much for getting the results out faster than the primary, which were known just a little over two hours after the polls closed Tuesday night.
According to the party’s website, Washoe County had failed to report any results by 10:15 pm last night. Apparently, Washoe GOP chief Bruce Parks didn’t have his act together and, expectedly, dropped the ball.
But even if the total turnout was in the 59K neighborhood, the fact remains that there are some 590,000 active registered voters in Nevada, meaning turnout for the caucus was only around 10%.
So much for the Nevada GOP’s “Bank Your Vote” effort. As a conservative media host sarcastically emailed to me this morning…
“Joe Biden got 112,611 votes in the Primary. Trump got 59,545 votes in the Caucus. Yeah – it worked.”
In other words, only hard-core Trump supporters turned out – exactly as the Nevada GOP intended when it forced its caucus on Nevada Republican voters in an effort to tilt the scales in Trump’s favor.
One of the key talking points by party leaders for going with a caucus in addition to the primary was that the caucus would feature “transparent tabulation.”
“But,” reports the Las Vegas Sun this morning, “the transparency ended shortly after the (caucus) started about 5 p.m. at nearly 50 sites around Southern Nevada, when party workers told assembled media they had to leave.”
“No media or recording is allowed,” caucus site team leader Rachel Fredericksen said, while tossing out a Sun reporter from the Cambridge Recreation Center site.
As for the supposed advanced security of using paper ballots, here’s a photo snapped by one attendee of the *secure* ballot boxes that were used…
Doesn’t look very secure to me. Not even a lockbox.
The person who forwarded me the photo also reported that “No one was manning the growing line outside and people were freezing.”
So why were the lines so long on a cold, blustery night for such a low-turnout election? According to a report in this morning’s Las Vegas Review-Journal…
“Some voters told reporters it took about 90 minutes to cast their votes. Around 5 p.m., Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Law said more voters came out than he had expected and that he would have to bring more ballots to a caucus location.”
In other words, poor planning.
Caucus-goer Bruce Feher tweeted: “At my polling location there was NO communication & long waits. Couldn’t vote.”
Ditto, according to the Nevada Independent, “Carol Ward, 81, a Carson City resident who left before she even voted, saying ‘this has got to be the ungodliest whole thing.’” She cited the long line to get in and the cold weather, “coupled with raw confusion over the process itself.”
“When I got the first [caucus mailer], you couldn’t make heads or tails out of it,” Ward said. “I even went so far as to call the secretary of state, and the lady that answered the phone laughed … And I called the Republican Party. They asked me to come to work [for the caucus]. I would be embarrassed to work there right now. There’s no way.”
In other words, turnout could have been higher if so many Republicans hadn’t gotten tired of the wait and left without casting a ballot.
As a side note, Lincoln County Commissioner Varlin Higbee was banned from attending a Trump rally a couple months ago despite having a VIP pass. The bouncer at the door reportedly blocked him from attending because he had endorsed Ron DeSantis while the Florida governor was still in the race.
Higbee told a reporter he still intends to vote for Trump in the general election, “but he said he thinks the Nevada GOP is poorly serving the former president.”
“When you ostracize 60% of your republican voters because you call them ‘RINOs’ and ‘Never Trumpers,’ they’re not going to vote,” he said. “If anybody is to blame for that, it’s (Nevada GOP Chairman Michael) McDonald.”
Unofficial turnout numbers…
- Democrat Presidential Primary: 21%
- Republican Presidential Primary: 13%
- Republican Presidential Caucus: 10%
But before you jump to the conclusion that the combined GOP total exceeds the Democrats’ turnout total, take into consideration that a considerable number of GOP primary voters ALSO voted in the GOP caucus – as allowed by law and party rules.
All that said, Trump’s not the problem. His core supporters, as I told Politico in an interview a few days ago, will walk through the gates of hell to support him.
No, the problem is his Nevada campaign team and the “leadership” of the Nevada GOP. If they handle the general election the way they’ve handled the last four election cycles and the Chaos Caucus, Trump could lose Nevada again for the third time in November.
If some heads don’t roll for this latest debacle and PR nightmare, Trump will have no one but himself to blame.
DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT LINES
Here are just a few samples of emails I’ve received from readers about last night’s “Chaos Caucus” …
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“I checked out the caucus location for all of us in old South Reno: Roger Corbett School – which is in a seedy neighborhood and only has parking for about 30 cars. I don’t think they will have a good turnout at all.
“I will be going right before 5:30 before it starts and if I can’t find a safe and suitable place to park and at 75-years-old with a recent knee replacement I don’t think walking through the dark with patchy snow in a seedy neighborhood is really a good idea and there are a lot of people of my ilk that will be thinking the same way.
“I don’t know who the rocket scientists that chose this location are, but I would put them on the same thinking level as Biden. There will be one hell of a lot of people that will go over there tomorrow, drive around the block and the neighborhood without finding suitable parking, and drive home cussing, just like I did today when I checked it out.
“The Nevada Republican Party needs to remember the 6 ‘P’s’: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”
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“My precinct was one of the 22 (in Clark County) that changed at the last minute. Get this. I live in Desert Shores. Outside of my neighborhood is Cimarron High. I can’t go there. Then a couple of miles down Buffalo is Red Rock Calvary. Nope, I can’t go there either.
“I was supposed to go to Myron Leavitt Middle School. Now, I have to go to a different middle school I have never heard of, east of the highway up by Gilcrease Orchards, 20 minutes away (so much for your neighborhood). This also affects one of the precincts from Sun City Summerlin – a senior population who don’t drive at night – especially outside their neighborhoods.”
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“Hi Chuck. You were right, talk about poor planning! The Churchill County Republican Presidential Caucus was held at the Rafter 3C, a large football sized indoor arena. There were 3 tables set up with very poor signs indicating lines for A – G, H – O and P – Z. There were a large number of people who at first did not see the signs and got in the wrong lines, only to realize it long after their line had grown substantially.
“We arrived at 4:45 pm and there were about 200 people in each line. By 5:00 pm the lines had grown to where they started snaking around and by 5:30 they were out the door. There had to be over 1,000 people in the building. I watched people enter, see the mob, turn around and leave, never getting to vote.
“The lines moved very slowly and about 5:30 they had set up 3 more tables and were dividing the lines by half again. When it came to our turn, the young lady took over a couple of minutes to sort through a ream of papers to find our names to sign in and receive our ballot, then proceed to our precinct to vote.
“We stood in line for an hour and a half and finally were able to leave at 6:30 pm and people were still arriving and the line was still out the door with 50 or more people.”
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Same in Yerington last night. In line in the dark with snow and rain for an hour and forty five minutes. Same confusion with A-J and K-Z. Even had a person collapse at the door after an hour in line that I helped load onto a gourny. Cardboard file boxes for plain paper xeroxed ballets. Happy to support Trump but what an unbelievable pain to get it done.”
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“Republican Caucus – Del Webb School. The love of Trump was apparent, and full display tonight. I would estimate that 1000-1500 loyal voters showed up to support Trump at this site. That’s the good news.
“The bad news: There was inadequate promotion of this caucus and poorly handled. We arrived at 4:45 pm. It took us until 6:00 pm to cast our vote. The lines were long, tempers short and volunteers were frustrated. Long lines outside the auditorium with absolutely no direction on which line we were to stand it.
“Registration was alphabetical and one long table with no signs to indicate which table to go to. If you chose the wrong door and went in the A/B line and you were a M/N etc., you had to fight through the line and ‘squeeze’ into the appropriate line. Most were polite and we all understood, but it was utter chaos.
“No one told us the process until we got to the table and they were unprepared. Poor volunteers!! When we went to cast our vote at the appropriate precinct table, they didn’t even have pens available. Imagine.
“Due to the crowd, parking was limited and we had to park across the street, down the hill near the baseball fields. Whoever runs these caucus sites should re-evaluate the process. That being said, we did our part to support our party.”
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I couldn’t even get parked anywhere near the polling station let alone go vote! Some friends told me after endless time trying to park, when they got in the line to vote they were there over an hour and it was so cold they were freezing. They said any longer and they would have left. Many people like me had to give up and leave, and I kept asking various people what time they were closing and no one knew. Bloody fiasco!!
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“I assume by now you heard about the complete, disorganized debacle at the Northwest Technical Academy on Tropical. We got there at 4:45, the line was wrapped around the school, and more and more people came. We got in to vote at 6:45.
“They were checking in by alpha, and only had four tables until almost 6:45. The volunteers had pages of names and did not know the alphabet (L comes before N – not joking).
“The check-in area was the entry/lobby and held maybe 60 people. Inside where all the precinct tables were set up, there were the volunteers and a few voters. Yet people stood outside in the cold for two hours waiting to even get checked in. The outside lights were off, there were people in wheelchairs, and it was dark and no security. They finally turned the lights on.
“I guess other areas went smoothly, but ours was a mess. Organization was absent. (Chairman) McDonald and the others should not be in charge of making these decisions. I’m glad I went, but what a disaster.”
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“This rat-trap calamity of a caucus is a total farce! I for one don’t like going to vote somewhere, and all the people running the site are wearing ‘Team Trump’ shit! Way to go, holding a complete, stacked, in the bag election! I feel like I’m on a cuckoo train and being held hostage by my own party.”
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“I caucused last night. … I didn’t even arrive at the front of the school and enter for nearly an hour. … The ballot box was like the ones shown in your post titled Caucus Chaos. Chaos is an understatement. I don’t blame the volunteers who, I believe, did their best with little to no training. … The confusion lies at the feet of the so-called state GOP who seem far more interested in name recognition and praise for themselves than actually ensuring volunteers, who may or may not be paid for their work, were properly trained and prepared to carry out their duties.”
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“Another one for your caucus disaster file. Before I go on let me say that I do not believe the local Churchill County Republicans were the problem. It appears to me that that there was little planning, guidance and co-ordination by the state Republican party and our local people did what they could to make it work. … If it hadn’t been for the fact that I have voted in every general election, primary or caucus since 1964, I would have walked out on this disaster. This should have been done on a Saturday for 8 hours instead of packing people in like sardines for a couple of hours.”
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“I wish I could tell you how the Carson City caucus went, but I couldn’t get there. There was absolutely no parking anywhere. It was held at the Casino Fandango. I drove around from 5:10-5:55 and gave up. My only option was to park somewhere in the shopping center across the street and walk through the snow and slick sidewalks where we get at least one pedestrian hit each week. Wasn’t worth it to participate in a scam ‘election’ to begin with. I heard that the line snaked throughout the whole casino and was very slow. Definitely a huge fail, but unfortunately not unexpected with the incompetents that run the Carson City party.”
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“Total disaster at Sepulveda where my precinct was. Old people left outdoors in line freezing, lines snaking around corridors, no direction or letting people know what was happening. I had a meeting downtown Reno and I could see it would be hours before anything relevant happened, so I left. My neighbors said it took 2 hours before they got to vote. And these jokers are now trying to spin how wonderfully successful it was. I had really angry voters texting me asking who they should complain to. A number of them reported they’ve left voicemails for (Washoe GOP Chairman) Parks and (Nevada GOP Chairman) McDonald. No response…shocker!”
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“On the news program at 6:00 they reported that the GOP headquarters said that they would be closing off voting at 7:15 because of too many people in line and they couldn’t count fast enough. Previously, they had announced that the closing time would be 7:30. So, anybody showing up after 7:15 was out of luck – if they weren’t already out of luck due to unconscionable wait times. I didn’t go, but if I had and I saw those long lines I would have left because I can’t stand up for more than 10 minutes. Bad back. Anyhow, this caucus was a disaster. The GOP in Washoe County needs all new humans in charge, preferably people who don’t have their thumb where the sun don’t shine.”
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FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Yes. The Nevada (caucus) effort was tilted toward Trump. By boycotting the Tuesday primary, insisting that candidates had to choose either the primary or the caucus and striking the names of candidates from caucus ballots as they dropped out, Nevada officials virtually assured Trump’s victory.” – Steve Sebelius, KTNV.com, 2/9/24
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.