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Nevada caucuses: Five questions with Nevada political expert Jon Ralston

at 04:08 PM ET, 02/02/2012

The Fix doesn’t like to just toss around the term “guru” — except when referring to our spiritual advisers, that is.

But when it comes to Nevada politics, there’s really no other word for Jon Ralston.

So with his home state’s caucuses two days away, The Fix is using Ralston as a guinea pig for a new Fix feature (with apologies to Craig Kilborn) called “Five questions.”

Before perusing the post below, though, make sure to follow Jon on Twitter at @RalstonFlash and, for the diehards, consider buying his Nevada politics newsletter, RalstonFlash.com.

On to the five questions...

1. What makes Nevada’s electorate unique?

Ralston: We are not aliens, as some east of the Mississippi think. The population is very diverse, in some ways a mini-Florida with large retiree and Hispanic populations. The state is very urban with more than 80 percent in metro areas.

2. What metrics should we look at for clues about which way Nevada will swing in the general election?

Ralston: GOP turnout may tell us something. But I hesitate to draw comparisons to what might happen in November. It is too fluid. This state should be close.

3. What role is the immigration issue playing in the Nevada caucuses?

Ralston: We are not a border state but the issue is large in the GOP electorate, especially because of the economy. It’s a tough issue for Republicans here because of the large Latino population.

4. Why haven’t Nevada tea party activists, who helped nominate Sharron Angle in the state’s 2010 Senate race, coalesced around one candidate?

Ralston: Because they are not unified and never have been. The movement has dissipated a lot here since 2010.

5. Ron Paul finished second in this state four years ago, and he’s put a lot of emphasis on it this year. But polls show him far back. What should we expect from Paul on Saturday?

Ralston: I think he gets second or third. He got 14 percent last time. Is that his ceiling? If so, he gets third. Seems like even more enthusiasm and better organization than ‘08, so I think Romney folks are wary, if not nervous.

 
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