If Nevada abandons its presidential caucuses in favor of a primary, it should do so because it serves the interests of voters, not the interests of a dysfunctional state Republican Party.
As reported this week by the Review-Journal’s Laura Myers, several Republican presidential candidates are threatening to skip Nevada’s first-in-the-West caucus next year because the state Republican Party is run by Rand Paul loyalists, a fact that could unfairly tip support to the Kentucky senator. If Nevada’s caucus doesn’t attract the full field of GOP candidates, it will have no national relevance.
Not surprisingly, those same candidates would be happy to campaign in Nevada if the caucuses are switched to a secret-ballot primary. Coincidentally, Republicans have full control of the Nevada Legislature and are in position to accommodate those candidates.
But a presidential primary requires the use of the state’s election infrastructure. That costs money. So legislators are considering bills that not only would convert the state’s February presidential caucuses to primaries, but move the state’s primary elections from June to February to erase a new expense.
Nevada voters are disengaged in the spring and summer — primaries have poor turnout as it is — but they’ll be especially disinterested in campaigns over the holidays. February primary elections would make it impossible for challengers to build name recognition. They would make incumbents unbeatable.
Turn low-turnout primaries into lower-turnout primaries, to save a party from its marginalized “organization”? No way.