Five things to know about Nevada before its debate Tuesday


The fifth Republican debate is being held Tuesday in Las Vegas, a newly influential state in presidential politics. Immigration is a key issue there as it is in Arizona.

The fifth Republican debate is being held Tuesday in Las Vegas, a newly influential state in presidential politics.

As part of the USA Today Network series, One Nation, The Arizona Republic is looking at the immigration debate in five key states leading up to the presidential election: Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

All five are early-nominating states, where candidates campaign hard, and they’re places where immigration is a big issue. Immigration has become a key topic in the presidential race, and our future president will likely make decisions on immigration policy that affect us all.

Want to learn what’s going on? We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Here are a few important facts about Nevada, which hosts presidential caucuses on Feb. 23.

Nevada is the most ethnically diverse of the early presidential-nominating states, and the only Western state. Nevada’s population is 51.5 percent non-Hispanic White, compared to 87.1 percent in Iowa, 91.3 percent in New Hampshire, and 63.9 percent in South Carolina.

Unlike other early states, it has first-hand experience with immigration issues. Immigration is as high a priority for them as it is for Arizonans.

Nevada has a history of picking winners – Nevada has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1980.

Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates feel they have a shot at winning Nevada’s fast-growing and politically powerful Latino electorate. Democrats have worked hard to win support from the 55,000-strong Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, more than half of whom are Latinos. The union was a key early endorser of then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 race. The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, meanwhile, in recent years has reached out to Latinos by increasing education funding for programs for Spanish-speaking students, and allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver authorization cards. Those measures could help pave the way for Republican presidential candidates to attract Latino voters.

Look for Daniel Gonzalez’s story on immigration in Nevada in mid-February, ahead of the Nevada caucus Feb. 23.

Nevada’s population is 27.8 percent Latino, the highest of the five early states we’re looking at. Latinos will make up 13 percent of all eligible voters in the country in 2016, but in Nevada it’s even more – Latinos will make up 18.8 percent of the eligible voters, according to the Center for American Progress.

Almost 30 percent of people in Nevada speak a language other than English at home, far more than the three earlier states.

Nevada is:

  • 51.5 percent White
  • 27.8 percent Hispanic
  • 9.1 percent Black
  • 8.3 percent Asian

In comparison, Iowa is 87.1 percent White and New Hampshire is 91.3 percent White, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.



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