With Florida in the rear view, our attention turns to this Saturday's Nevada caucuses. At first glance, Nevada looks like a libertarian paradise: no income tax, legalized prostitution, legalized gambling, everything is 24/7, the regulatory environment is friendly to business. Dig deeper, and you find a state with just two (sorry, Elko) urban centers, a scattered rural population, high unemployment, and a housing market that has imploded. Just as Florida's were last week, all of Nevada's problems will be in full view of the entire country for the next few days.
Even though this is the first nominating contest in the West, Nevada's influence has been downplayed due to the intense focus on Florida. Some pundits are even suggesting, unwisely I think, that the nomination was wrapped up last night. If that were the case, the networks wouldn't be hyping their Saturday night coverage with such vigor. Long story short: Nevada still has a significant role to play in the GOP primary.
One of the best political writers in the state of Nevada, Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun, has an amusing primer on the Silver State for the candidates. Here he explains what Nevadans think about the controversial Yucca Mountain project:
• The third rail of Nevada politics: The media are more obsessed with Yucca Mountain than most regular folks. But because the media are omnipotent, you better come up with something better than what most of you used in the debates. I wouldn't use the phrase "sound science," either — we've heard that one before. I would focus on a simple pander and hope no one follows up: "I can promise you as president that I will never put the health, safety and welfare of Nevadans at risk." It has worked for many Nevada candidates, so it's worth a shot.
Whole thing here.