Political News

Campaigns hope early caucusing in Nevada could help avoid Iowa's chaos

Posted February 16, 2020 3:27 p.m. EST

— Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters have on their radar, in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast.

1. Caucus concerns

The Nevada caucuses are Saturday, but early voting has already begun -- lines are long and the state's Democratic Party says turnout could break records. The question everyone's asking: will tallying the votes go easier than it did in Iowa?

"Nevada Democrats have been working around the clock to try to prevent the caucus catastrophe that we saw in Iowa," New York Times national political correspondent Lisa Lerer said. "They were supposed to use the same app to get the results ... so the first thing they did was scrap that plan."

There was no early voting in Iowa. In Nevada, early caucusgoers can fill out their ranked preferences ahead of time instead of waiting until caucus day.

"The campaigns think that could be an asset for them," Lerer said. "They should get results earlier, but ... this has the potential to be a mess."

2. Obama's shadow

As the Democratic nomination fight enters a new stage, expect to hear the candidates spend a lot more time highlighting their ties to the most popular person in the party -- former President Barack Obama.

"We're going to see the candidates argue that they are in the best position to rebuild the Obama coalition," Wall Street Journal national political reporter Tarini Parti said. "So it'll be interesting to see how tightly they hug President Obama. We've seen, obviously, Joe Biden do that a lot. There's a new ad that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is airing that features President Obama and former Senate majority leader Harry Reid."

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has his own ad up that features Obama praising him. Parti said that's raising some eyebrows.

"He didn't endorse Obama in 2008, and barely endorsed him, at the last minute, in 2012," Parti said. "He called him divisive and partisan and said he had a populist agenda. So we'll see ... how much other candidates bring that up."

3. Democrats & the women's vote

Women make up the bulk of Democratic voters -- and Axios politics and White House editor Margaret Talev said she's watching for whether any of the party's presidential candidates are able to turn that to their advantage.

"So far, Bernie Sanders is a clear preference of men inside the Democratic Party," Talev said. "But it's not true for women."

Recent national polls show no particular favorite, with support divided up among all the top candidates.

4. Trump's wall money

President Donald Trump isn't getting the wall money he wants from Congress so his administration announced last week it'll divert nearly $4 billion in Pentagon funding to construction on the southern border. That's prompted bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill, CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly reports.

"This is allowed because of the President's national emergency declaration last year," Mattingly said. "What's interesting about this tranche of funds ... is that instead of coming from money that had been allocated for drug interdiction or military construction, like last year, it's coming from projects like fighter jets, tanks, ships -- things that members of Congress care very deeply about."

Mattingly said Congress may vote to reject Trump's plan, but the President would just veto it.

"There's no expectation that this can be blocked," Mattingly said. "They will be voting once again to block the national emergency. Congress has done it twice, the Senate has passed it twice, the President has vetoed it twice. But it's a tough vote for members to take, particularly ... endangered Republicans who might care about some of these specific projects."

5. Trump heads west

And from CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson:

Trump will head out West this week, flexing his muscles in several states just as Democrats try to do the same in Nevada.

In the Silver State, which Trump lost in 2016 by fewer than 3 points, the President will speak with graduates who were previously incarcerated, highlighting his efforts on criminal justice reform. And in California, Trump is set to bring in one of his biggest fundraising hauls at a donor event.

The President will also appear in Arizona, a state he won by just under 4 points, as well as Colorado where he will rally and have a joint fundraiser for Sen. Cory Gardner, who has a tough reelection bid this cycle. His travels suggest that the West will be a battleground, with both parties vying for an edge as demographics continue to shift.

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