By Jim EllisJune 14, 2019 — Monmouth University just released their Nevada survey (June 6-11; 370 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders from a pool of 1,333 registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters) and it contained two major surprises.
First, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is beginning to show signs of upward mobility after being stagnant since her campaign’s inception, moves into the runner-up position in the Silver State and, second, neighboring Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) fares poorly in an early voting venue where she needs to succeed.
The Monmouth data projects former Vice President Joe Biden to be leading the pack of candidates, as in almost every current poll, with 36 percent preference and Sen. Warren follows with 19 percent, ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who drops to 13 percent. Sen. Harris then places fifth with just six percent support, and one point behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Monmouth then asked the second-choice question. Within these responses, the candidates are closely bunched. Here, it is Sen. Warren who leads with 15 percent, but the group is so close that a statistical tie among the top four is the best way to categorize the answers. After Sen. Warren, Sen. Sanders posts 14 percent, while Sen. Harris performs better than on the initial ballot test, tying Biden at 13 percent.
The Nevada Caucus, even though it holds only 36 first-ballot delegates, is an important momentum builder. Placed third on the nomination calendar, Nevada follows the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, respectively. It is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, and exactly a week before the South Carolina primary.
Nevada is important for Sen. Harris because she is unlikely to do particularly well in either Iowa or New Hampshire. She is expected to be one of the top finishers, if not the winner, in South Carolina, so a strong performance in Nevada is critical to give her some needed momentum in order to maximize her chances in the Palmetto State.
On the other hand, Nevada could prove of immense importance for Biden. Though he has tentative leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire, neither state is a lock for him. Sen. Sanders proved he has a base in Iowa where he fought Hillary Clinton to a virtual tie in 2016.
And, as a New England politician for almost 40 years and a 60.1 percent winner of the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary, it is clear that Sanders could hold the top spot over Biden, who could easily fail to finish first in either of these first two electoral events. If this scenario were to occur, then Nevada could actually become a do or die state for the former vice president.
On the other hand, if either Biden or Sanders were to sweep Iowa and New Hampshire, then another win in Nevada could provide the underpinnings to send one of them on the way to the nomination.
Though a small state without even hosting a primary, Nevada could play a major role in setting the stage for whether we see a candidate begin to coalesce majority support, or if political chaos begins to unfold as the candidates head toward Super Tuesday on March 3.