I went into this road trip undecided and I have come out on the other side just as undecided, if not more so, than I was going into it. Why? I went into the road trip with very little liking of Hillary Clinton and came out with a deeper amount of respect for the woman. I still don't agree with her on Iraq--both the decision to go in and her "plan" to get out once elected. I still don't feel one hundred percent sure she could beat the Republican nominee. And as much as I love the idea of a woman president, she isn't who I had in mind when I stood in front of the unfinished womens' suffrage sculture in the United States capitol.
As similar as Nevada and Idaho politics may appear initially, they are not so. The congressional districts (all three of them) are not anything alike. Northern Nevada is much like Idaho, in fact Elko County reminds me a lot of Cassia County, but Southern Nevada is nothing like Idaho. Well, maybe parts of Boise or Blaine County. I can't for the life of me figure out what will happen tomorrow in the Nevada caucuses because of Las Vegas. Do I think Romney has it in the bag? Yes. Do I think McCain wil come in a close second? Yes. Do I have any idea what will happen with the Democrats? Nope. I suspect Hillary has less support in comparison to Obama. However, I have o idea where Edwards support is or in what quantity. I doubt there will be more than ten percentage points separating Clinton and Obama. I suspect some of Richardson's early support in Nevada will tip it one way or the other. Those voters have to go somewhere. Where is the question.
It was interesting to be in a place so casual (or completely oblivious) to the caucus/primary system. Not a single person in Elko really knew what to expect at these events. Do we stand? Do we sit? Do we need tickets? Why is this not happening on time? The underlying question still remains, why Elko? Do the candidates really have to stop there? Maybe so. Maybe Las Vegas, Reno, and Elko have to be stops for the major contenders if they actually want people to show up to the caucus. The voters seemed to need an incentive to show up. The Republican voters seemed to need the incentive and assurance that their choices would be private. I'm not sure what the incentive for the Democrats was other than they really have a hand in picking who the nominee will be given the three-way race thi has become.
Despite what happens in Nevada tomorrow, I doubt Americans will have a clear picture of who each party's nominee will be until after Super Tuesday. Nevada, Florida, and South Carolina may only serve as the catalyst that forces out Giulini and Thompson. The big question is whether Giuliani will hang in there until New York and New Jersey.
When Julie first asked if I was interested in meeting her in Twin Falls to drive to Elko for the four candidates, I nearly talked myself out of it with all the work I have to do at home, but I am so glad I went. Every political junkie needs a road trip and the last political road trip I had was the November Bert Marley announced in Boise he would be running for State Superintendent. This trip hardly compares. Four presidential candidates plus Michelle Obama and General Wesley Clark. It doesn't get any better than this.