Ratf*cking Has Consequences: A Note on the Nevada Caucuses


This is just a quick post to lay down a marker before Nevada Democrats caucus on February 20th.

My social media feeds have been flooded this week with anecdotal evidence from Nevadans about a variety of ratfucking techniques that are being deployed there. The term "ratfucking" gained currency after Woodward and Bernstein cited it in "All the President's Men" to describe dirty tricks intended to effect the outcome of elections. Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston has been sharing some of them via Twitter and his blog. Among the efforts that have been reported:

Additionally, multiple sources have been sharing a quirk in the NV caucus that allows one to vote in both caucuses. The two parties hold caucuses on different days, and the Democrats go first.

  1. If you are currently registered as a Republican, the Nevada GOP downloads the voter file to confirm your party affiliation 30 days before they caucus. That date has passed. (Both parties' caucuses are closed.)
  2. You can change your registration to Democrat onsite at the Democratic caucuses, so a registered Republican can participate.
  3. Because the GOP voter file has already been pulled, your recent re-registration will not show up on the voter file the party uses to determine your eligibility at their caucuses.

Ralston reports that this strategy was shared among GOP leaders, including a press release from Reno's College Democrats. That's quite an array of ratfucking techniques, isn't it?

Here's where it all blows up in the Sanders campaign's face.

Suppose Bernie Sanders earns a majority of Nevada delegates. If that happens, all the ratfucking will cast a pall over the legitimacy of the results. Clinton supporters and party regulars will complain that the results aren't a fair reflection of actual Democratic sentiment in the state. Articles will be written post-caucus speculating on the degree to which ratfucking swayed the outcome, and whether Sanders "really" earned his delegates.

Suppose Hillary Clinton earns a majority of Nevada delegates. If that happens, Team Clinton will be able to crow that, despite outrageous dirty tricks by the Sanders campaign, they still weren't able to overcome her massive support from Nevada Democrats. This will serve to counter the "Clinton's losing support" narrative currently being promoted by pundits. When South Carolina goes strong for Clinton, as all polls suggest, the back-to-back wins will generate a new narrative. Hillary is the Comeback Kid, Part Two! Sanders is struggling!

We'll know soon enough how the caucuses play out. But for now all I can say is, 

"Please proceed, Senator Sanders."


This afternoon the Nevada Democratic Party issued a statement on reports of Republican voter registration fraud.

After reviewing Nevada law, we believe that registering under false pretenses in order to participate in the Democratic caucuses for purposes of manipulating the presidential nominating process is a felony. The Nevada State Democratic Party will work with law enforcement to prosecute anyone who falsely registers as a Democrat to caucus tomorrow and subsequently participates in the Republican caucuses on Tuesday.

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