Historically the two earliest states in the primary season, the states make the first judgement on presidential candidates, have been New Hampshire and Iowa. However, Nevada has recently been bumped up as one of the earlier states of the primaries, and offers an insightful cross-section into a different kind of America.
Mix of Rural and Urban voters
From the glare and glamour of Las Vegas to the rural voters of the north of the state, Nevada offers both rural and urban voters. This means candidates must articulate a message that can reach the small town voters as well as the big businesses of Vegas. Crafting a campaign that can reach out to these disparate groups is a key litmus test for future success in 2016.
Western Hispanic states
Nevada, previously a state of predominately white population, is now more than 15 Hispanic. This does not only make immigration a sensitive issue in Nevada, but also offers a perspective on the wider implications of reaching out to Hispanic voters in similar western states that are increasingly competitive for Democrats, such as Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.
A struggling economy
Nevada has struggled in the recovery from the global recession, with a particularly high unemployment rate. The state can therefore become a testing ground for candidates’ economic messages; whoever can find a way to approach continued recovery that resonates with Nevada’s voters might just have a formula for a national economic platform.