Big Story in Nevada

It wasn't much news that Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday - we won them in 2008 also, in fact, he got a higher percentage of the vote in 2008 than he did this year. Nor was it big news that Ron Paul and Newt gingrich attained a virtual tie for second, leaving Rick Santorum in the dust.

No, the big news from Nevada was the turnout. It was down by about a quarter from four years ago. In Florida, many counties also reported a lower turnout than four years ago. This tells us two things. One, voters are just not thrilled about the current crop of candidates and their lack of enthusiasm means the eventual nominee will have to continue energizing the base when he should be focusing only on Independent voters. The second thing it means is that the highly touted Romney organization may be getting enough of its people to the polls to win plurality victories, but seeing as Gingrich has virtually no organization to speak of, Romney should not only be trouncing him but also getting more voters to the polls. If the Romney organization got all its voters to the polls In Nevada, and Gingrich, who had no organization consequently did not get his voters to the polls, what does that tell you about the quarter of the electorate that stayed home.

Maybe the hatred of Republicans for President Obama will be enough to get their people to the polls in November, but that is not the kind of "maybe" a campaign wants to cope with as it plans a general election strategy: The things you need to do to energize your base are also the kinds of things that tend to alienate swing voters. I hope Team Romney likes pickles, because his path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue presents a lot of them.


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