Hillary Won Nevada! No Obama Won!

Hillary Won Nevada! No Obama Won! Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Caucuses yesterday, getting 51 percent of the vote to Barack Obama’s 45 percent and John Edwards’ 4 percent.

“I guess this is how the West was won,” Mrs. Clinton told her supporters during a victory rally at the Planet Hollywood hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Speaking over loud cheers, she added: “We will all be united in November. I don’t think politics is a game. I don’t think elections are just another day in the calendar.”

But wait! Obama is claiming victory, claiming 13 delegates to Clinton’s 12.

The more populous Clark County, which Clinton won, awarded a even number of delegates, and Clinton and Obama split those down the middle. Meanwhile, the more rural areas, which Obama won, awarded an odd number of delegates, which gave Obama the edge.

The media tallies concur, giving us rather odd graphics like this one from ABC News:

Nevada Caucus Final Vote and Delegate Tally

All this is moot, though, because yesterday’s results are non-binding:

“I don’t know why they’re saying that,” said Jill Derby, president of the Nevada State Democratic Party, referring to the Obama campaign. “We don’t select our national delegates the way they’re saying. We won’t select national delegates for a few more months.”

At which point, presumably, they’ll throw their votes to the national winner to curry favor.

One thing’s for sure, though: This campaign in going to get ugly, fast. Both sides are whining up a storm.

David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign chairman, is screaming about dirty tricks:

“We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.”

The Clinton campaign is whining about voter suppression.

Democrats may have cooled down their flash war over race and gender earlier this week, but by the time the vote took place Saturday, each of the two top campaigns was flinging some very ugly charges about the other. Bill Clinton accused the powerful Nevada culinary union of suppressing voters, claiming he’d witnessed it first hand. Obama’s campaign manager in turn threw out some very charged coded language about efforts by the Clinton campaign to suppress the vote. “It is a sad day when Democrats start trying to suppress the vote of other Democrats,” he said of push polls, robo-calls, and what he called “old-style say anything or do anything to win” Clinton politics.

I guess this is what they mean by “hope” and “change.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mithras says:

    Record turnout in Nevada for the Dems. Yes, it’s going to get ugly. On November 4, for the GOP.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    The key question isn’t whether it will get ugly. Of course it will. The question is whether the ugliness will result in lasting rancor.

    So far Democrats have been happy with their choices and I’ve seen lots of commentary to the effect that all is peaceful within the party.

    We’re about to see whether that’s the case.

  3. just me says:

    I don’t know that the rancor will carry over into the voters.

    I think it may carry over onto the candidates, and you may end up with a bit of a private war between Obama and Clinton.

    What I would be concerned about from the DNC perspective is whether a nasty fight during the primary, which is on the way, will damper some of the passion of some of the voters. Only time will tell on that one.

  4. Jay says:

    Not only did Obama take more delegates in Nevada – although this is being downplayed by the supposedly ‘impartial’ people reporting on it from Nevada State Democratic Party – he also scored even in New Hampshire on delegates and gained more in Iowa than Clinton – so on the face of delegates – he’s winning.

    Of the 17 counties in Nevada who took part in the caucus – Obama had an overall win in 64.7% – or 11 of them. Also, in the 10 counties of New Hampshire – he won 5 of them, to Hillary’s 1 – with them tying on the last. Of course, he also won the day in Iowa. Not bad showing.

    Meanwhile, the Clinton’s being in rabid attack mode, pounced on Obama’s acknowledgment of Reagan as being one who could sense readiness for change and make something of it and that the Republicans were generative of ideas – although Obama never once saying he approved the net effects of those ideas, in fact he clearly said in that interview that he did not agree with the effects.

    Rather than what Obama said about Reagan and Republicans being poor timing, it was in fact excellent timing. The Clinton’s were primed to pounce – they been pouncing all week in fact – so he capitalized on their negative focus.

    The only way that the Clinton’s could attack Obama for his comments was to attack a Republican hero and ridicule Republicans – thus isolating themselves further into the Democratic base. Any blue leaning Republicans – of which there seems to be many – who copped the Clinton response are automatically going to back Obama in their swing. Add this to the fact that many Independents do not like Hillary one iota and already favor Obama – Obama then secures his faithful Democratic followers, and the majority of both blue-leaning Republicans and Independents.

    Once the democratic nominee race is over, it is then time for the Democratic base to consolidate behind their candidate – which would bring the Hillary supporters to back Obama because having a Democratic president allows power of veto.

    So, now we have the Democratic super-delegates looking on at how things are shaping up – these delegates having a 40% influence over who gets the nomination. Forget who has endorsed who so far – the majority of Hillary’s endorsements were received prior to the primaries when she was presumed to be the clear front runner. Obama has been racking them up steadily after his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire. But aside from that super delegates can change their minds and their minds will change to what is ‘best for the party’.

    So, what do we know about Presidential races in the past between Dems and Reps? It’s always very narrow – pretty much 50/50 split. To ensure a Democratic president you need someone who can bring in Independents and blue leaning Republicans. So who is the better choice? Hillary, unpopular amongst Independents, and who has alienated blue leaners through her Reagan/Republican attacks or Obama – who is getting the swing support?

    Easy math. Hillary is steadily boxing herself in.

  5. Jay says:

    Sorry – correction – Hillary won in 4 counties in New Hampshire – typo.

  6. rodney dill says:

    The Clinton dirty tricks machine is hitting high gear. The media has made a lot out of Hillary’s win, but little out of Obama’s win with more delegates.

  7. just me says:

    To ensure a Democratic president you need someone who can bring in Independents and blue leaning Republicans. So who is the better choice? Hillary, unpopular amongst Independents, and who has alienated blue leaners through her Reagan/Republican attacks or Obama – who is getting the swing support?

    I am not so sure Obama will appeal over the long haul to blue leanig republicans, unless the GOP elects Huckabee. McCain would likely keep those voters, and I think Romney could appeal to them as well.

    I think as the race heats up, if the voters start to actually look at policy, Obama may be hurt, because what policy he does have isn’t centrist-Hillary actually hits to the right of him.

    I think the DNC is starting to see this race as a cakewalk, and already in the bag-and while they have the advantage November is still a long way off.

  8. Jay says:

    But how is Obama going to appeal to voters against McCain on the key issues?

    Namely being:

    1/ Bringing the troops home
    2/ Bringing about change – particularly in getting the American voice heard in the political system and not just the big companies having undue influence
    3/ Dealing with the economic situation – clearly a result of ‘war happy’ recent years – which involves not just easing the brunt of the recession but also the long term goal of changing focus so this cycle does not repeat itself
    4/ Bringing unity within the country
    5/ Repairing relations with the rest of the world

    I believe that on these core issues, Obama has positioned himself better than McCain or any other GOP candidate for that matter.