Nevada GOP Caucuses: 5 Things to Watch in the Silver State

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Nevada GOP Caucuses: 5 Things to Watch in the Silver State
Marco Rubio speaks in Nevada, Feb. 21, Donald Trump speaks in South Carolina, Feb. 18, 2016, Ted Cruz speaks in South Carolina, Feb. 17, and John Kasich speaks in South Carolina, Feb. 18, 2016.

Nevada caucusgoers chose Hillary Clinton on Saturday and, today, Republican voters will decide on a favorite GOP hopeful.

With only five candidates remaining, the stakes are high in the Silver State.

Here are the five things to look for tonight as Nevada's Republican voters caucus for their candidates:

Trump Betting on Another Win

Donald Trump got 33.5 percent of the vote in South Carolina. Will the New York real estate mogul walk away with another win tonight?

"The most important thing we can do is -- I'm not going to use the word 'caucus' -- I'm just going to use just vote," Trump told a Las Vegas crowd Monday night. "What the hell is caucus? Nobody even knows what that means."

Polling has been hard to come by, but the most recent numbers from a CNN/ORC poll released last Wednesday show Trump at 45 percent in the Silver State, while Rubio and Cruz are far behind at 19 and 17 percent, respectively.

The Gamble for Second Place

Marco Rubio narrowly won second place over Sen. Ted Cruz, winning by just 1,091 votes, in the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

That night the Florida senator was quick to declare it a "three-person race" with him, Trump and Cruz.

If Trump takes first tonight, there may be another duel for the No. 2 slot, and if it's Rubio again, it will not be good for Cruz.

Anybody Seen John Kasich?

While the rest of the GOP candidates offered their final pitches in Nevada, Ohio Gov. John Kasich mostly bypassed the Silver State and instead focused on the Super Tuesday states.

Kasich campaigned in Virginia Monday and he's in Georgia today.

Unfazed by his fifth-place finish in South Carolina, Kasich said the GOP race was "down to the final four" and he planned on traveling all the way to the nomination in Cleveland, Ohio. Whether his strategy works, the last governor standing is showing no signs of stopping.

The Odds of the Electorate Make-up

Entrance polls will show a slightly different electorate than any other state so far. Nevada's GOP electorate is not nearly as diverse as Democrats', but one in 10 voters was nonwhite in 2012.

The Silver State has a huge base of conservatives - 83 percent of GOP caucusgoers were conservatives in 2012 and half of all caucusgoers said they were "very conservative" - more than any other early state.

But unlike Iowa and South Carolina, there isn't a large evangelical base to draw on. Fewer than three in 10 people say they are evangelical Christians.

Caucus Roulette

The pressure is on as the Nevada Republican Party tries to right the ship after a rocky 2012. Last election cycle, a slow hand count of Nevada's Clark County caucus vote caused headaches in delaying final results for days.

Voter turnout is another wild card: Only 8 percent of the party's active voter base participated in 2012.

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