On The Road

February 6th, 2012

Nevada’s Incompetence Makes Things Worse for Iowa

Despite what the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority wants you to believe, what happens in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas.  While a tourist might be able to let loose for a weekend without friends and family knowing about every detail of their escapade, screwing up the results from the Nevada Caucuses is a little more difficult to hide.

There is no way to sugar coat what transpired on Saturday night in Nevada – it was a complete disaster.  Except for a few caucus locations that were held on Saturday evening after sundown in Las Vegas, the rest of the caucuses were held on Saturday morning.  By the end of the night, the Nevada GOP could only report the results from just over 40 percent of its precincts.  Even worse, at 7:30 on Sunday night the Nevada GOP was still only reporting results from 84 percent of precincts.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Sunday that the cause for the results fiasco was that a number of precincts produced more completed ballots than there were people who actually attended the caucuses in those precincts.  The article also highlights a dysfunctional relationship between the Nevada GOP and Clark County GOP leaders.  Clark County contains both Las Vegas and Henderson.  The county contains over 1000 precincts and makes up nearly 70 percent of the population in the state.

It was good that the Nevada Caucus fiasco occurred in an election that was a blowout.  Mitt Romney is expected to beat his nearest competitor by 20 points, meaning that even though only 40 percent of the votes were reported, the winner of the contest was already declared.  That said, there is a tight battle for second place between Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.  It is assumed that Gingrich will hold off Paul, but we will not know for sure until all the results are reported.

How Nevada’s Problems Are Different From Iowa’s

Not long after the media realized that the Nevada results were messed up, they quickly started making comparisons to what happened in Iowa.  The problem is that there are major differences between what happened in Iowa and what happened over the weekend in Nevada.

First and foremost, the Republican Party of Iowa reported results from each of the state’s 1774 precincts by 1 a.m. on January 4th.  To put that into perspective, six hours after the caucuses began in Iowa, all of the results have been reported to the media.  Only eight votes separated Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Iowa, and when the certification process discovered errors, as is intended when you certify an election, it was determined that Santorum had won Iowa, not Romney.

Some have made a big deal out of the 131 precincts that experienced errors that were found in the certification process.  Only seven percent of precincts in Iowa had problems.  We don’t know how many precincts in Nevada had problems, but the issue there was in the reporting and credentialing process, something Iowa didn’t have any real problems with.

Iowa’s problem was that the close race between Romney and Santorum tested the certification process, which is something that had never really been tested before.  Even though members of the media still like to poke fun at Iowa, the certification process worked.  It found the errors, determined the correct winner, and did so within the time that was allotted.  The problem with Iowa was the refusal of the Matt Strawn, the outgoing Iowa GOP Chair, to stand behind the certification process and declare Santorum the winner.

Caucuses Get Another Black Eye

Even though the problems that Nevada experienced are more serious than what happened in Iowa, it’s still another black eye for caucuses in general.  Many in the media and RNC members from non-early states have always looked for any reason to undermine the caucus process.  The fiasco in Iowa, combined with the epic failure in Nevada, gives them as much ammunition as they will ever need to make their case against Iowa and other caucus states.

Retaining Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation status was already going to be difficult following what happened in Iowa.  Thanks to the incompetence of the Nevada GOP, that task just got much more difficult.  Caucuses themselves are going to be under attack, not just Iowa’s position in the nominating process.  Saving the caucuses will now take more than just making a few tweaks.

Nevada Fiasco Unfortunately Has Iowa Connections

Two former Executive Directors of the Republican Party of Iowa, Gentry Collins and Jim Anderson, were hired by the Nevada GOP to oversee its 2012 caucus operations.  The Nevada GOP contracted CAP Public Affairs, a firm led by Collins, Anderson, and Alan Philp, because Collins and Anderson had overseen the caucus process in Iowa.  The only problem is that neither of them had overseen a contested presidential caucus where tabulating the vote was required.  Their inexperience showed.

Anderson actually served as Matt Strawn’s Executive Director after Jeff Boeyink resigned the position to manage Terry Branstad’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign.  Anderson left the party following the 2010 elections.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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