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Voter Diversity Expected To Play A Role In Nevada's Democratic Caucuses


The Democratic presidential candidates face off tomorrow in Nevada with what's billed as the presidential campaign's first vote in the West. For months, Nevada appeared to be a firewall for Hillary Clinton. Now polls show she and Bernie Sanders are neck-and-neck. For one perspective on the vote, we turned to a former Nevada state assemblywoman, Lucy Flores. She has endorsed Sanders. Welcome to the program.

LUCY FLORES: Happy to be here.

MONTAGNE: Well, given that when it comes to the Democratic race the focus has been on New Hampshire, it's been on Iowa, how are voters different in Nevada?

FLORES: Well, most obviously is the diversity. You know, Nevada is certainly more representative of what the entire country looks like demographically, so you really are testing how these candidates are doing across ethnicities, across genders, across cultures. And so I think this is going to really be the first true test of whether or not these candidates have particular strengths in particular demographics.

MONTAGNE: And when you talk about diversity, Nevada is 28 percent Hispanic.

FLORES: Correct

MONTAGNE: And what is important to Latino voters in Nevada?

FLORES: Well, the very same issues that resonate for all communities in this country - the economy, good jobs, access to good education for their children. We obviously talk about immigration, but that's not the number one priority for - at least that I've seen with the Latino demographic. And we have not seen that as polling as the number one issue either. And frankly, I think that that's why Bernie's message is resonating the way that it does with everyone, including Latinos, is because, you know, look, they're worried about whether or not they can feed their families and take care of themselves.

MONTAGNE: Well, I wonder if there was a time when you felt maybe alone in not being for Hillary Clinton who, to be fair, stands for many of us the same things, certainly, that Bernie Sanders does.

FLORES: Both of them are light-years ahead of any Republican candidate out there. So regardless of who wins the primary, I am going to do everything that I can to ensure that we have a Democrat in the White House.

MONTAGNE: Let me just ask you about a particular aspect of voting there - unions. How much influence do you think they will have on this democratic vote?

FLORES: Ultimately, people are very independent. And what I have seen with all the unions is that you have members who, regardless of who their union choose to endorse, ultimately want to exercise their own judgment and want to vote for the person they feel is best. And you've certainly seen that with Bernie where you've seen leadership of particular unions go with Hillary Clinton, and you've seen their members, you know, almost rebel and say, you know, yes, you've made this decision, but that's not what we agree with. And frankly, many of them weren't given the opportunity to vote.

MONTAGNE: And Nevada is still considered a purple state. How do you think - in terms of whether Nevada will go Republican or Democratic, how do you think Nevada will go?

FLORES: Just based on what I've seen on the ground and how we've performed in the past, I think it will have absolutely go Democratic. First of all, we lead in Democratic voter registration by very large numbers. And so if people actually turn out and vote according to the proportion of not only the registration but also their demographics in the state, then that all leads to a Democratic win in the general election for Nevada.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

FLORES: Thank you for having me.

MONTAGNE: Lucy Flores is a former Nevada state assemblywoman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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