Election 2016: Why Nevada matters

Recent history suggests Nevada is Clinton country

(CNN) – The Nevada caucuses could turn into an old fashioned Wild West showdown.

It’s the first contest of the campaign calendar held in the western U.S.

Democrats turn out February 20th, Republicans three days later.

It’s relatively new to the process — Nevada’s first caucus was in 2004 — but now it’s seen as a critical battleground for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. They’re fighting to win over an electorate more diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire, with more Hispanic and African-American voters.

While the state is geographically large, the race will likely be won or lost in just one city: Las Vegas. “Sin City” and the surrounding Clark County are home to nearly three-quarters of the state’s population.

Recent history suggests Nevada is Clinton country. Hillary Clinton narrowly won the vote in the 2008 caucus. Bill Clinton carried the state in both the 1992 and 1996 elections, helping him win the White House both times.

The Sanders campaign hopes to change that, spending millions on TV ads in both English and Spanish, and adding at least 50 staffers and 11 offices across the state.

Nevada senator Harry Reid tells CNN the race in his home state is too tight to call. “I expect it to be very close.”

Odds-makers agree, giving Clinton and Sanders a 50-50 chance of winning.

We’ll find out which candidate wins the Nevada jackpot on Saturday.

Copyright 2016 CNN

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