The following guest commentary was published today by the Nevada Independent…* * * * * (Michael Schaus) – Despite what a particular online personality constantly insists on social media, maybe we #dontmatter that much in the Silver State after all. On Feb. 6, the declining share of Nevada voters that register with either of the two major political parties will have the opportunity to cast a vote in their party’s primary election. Ballots will be mailed automatically to partisan voters as part of a law passed in 2021 moving Nevada to a statewide primary system. However, for Republicans, the vote won’t actually matter because the party has decided to instead select its candidate with a caucus two days later. In other words, Republicans will be presented with two ways to vote for their party’s nominee, but only one of them (the caucus) will actually hold any weight — which sounds quite likely to cause confusion among ordinary voters. Unlike the primary vote — which will take place despite GOP objections — a caucus system involves groups of party members meeting in person to lobby for, discuss and ultimately vote for delegates to send to their party’s national convention. It’s a process that is distinctly more cumbersome and inconvenient for voters than the state-run primary GOP officials have decided to ignore. Now, to be clear, as a private political party, the Nevada GOP ought to have the right to determine for itself how it selects its presidential nominee — even if that means using a process that seems deliberately designed to narrow the slice of voters capable of taking part. If party officials wanted to pull a name from a hat or merely hold a straw poll on Truth Social to determine how it selects its candidates, it should be free to do so as a private organization. Indeed, it’s not entirely clear why taxpayers should have to foot the bill for closed primary systems anyway — systems that are, effectively, nothing more than private member-only political organizations determining their preferred representatives for the general election. As it turns out, Republicans are quite right when they argue that, unlike the state-run primaries, caucus systems relieve taxpayers of the financial burdens associated with the internal nomination process of political parties. However, the GOP’s decision to go forward with a caucus in 2024 is nonetheless perplexing — given that primary-election ballots will be mailed out by the state regardless of the GOP’s internal policies. Moreover, the chance to sample a larger number of voters (even if they are all Republicans) should have been considered a potentially helpful opportunity for the party to select a nominee that might actually appeal to the state’s decidedly purple electorate. After all, with the declining share of registered voters affiliating as Republicans, one would think the party would be at least marginally interested in expanding the size of its political tent. Of course, as recent events have proven over and over again, one would be wrong to assume winning elections is the primary goal of the people running the party. It’s almost as if the party in Nevada isn’t at all interested in expanding its appeal beyond the most ardent members of its base — the only Republicans likely to show up for in-person caucuses. While the caucus system isn’t quite as unrepresentative as a Truth Social straw poll would be, it is decidedly less inclusive than a primary system that sees ballots automatically mailed out to every (Republican) voter in the state — the system currently scheduled to take place anyway. So, instead of taking advantage of a taxpayer-funded opportunity to get as many voters as possible to take part in selecting the party’s nominee, the Nevada GOP has decided to disregard whatever results arise on Feb 6. It will, instead, hold a caucus for a much smaller number of in-person attendees to lobby for their preferred candidate in a complex and convoluted system. And GOP Chairman Michael McDonald has even warned candidates that if they register for the statewide primary, they will be excluded from the caucus — because heaven forbid some Republican candidates demonstrate a popularity among as many voters as possible ahead of time. Rather than further narrowing the number of voters allowed to shape the future direction of the party, Republicans should be expanding that “tent” to better represent the diverse ideological and political views of Nevada’s swingy electorate — such as taking advantage of a statewide primary where every registered Republican has an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. Disenfranchising voters who don’t have the time or knowledge necessary to show up for a lengthy in-person caucus is simply not a recipe for rebuilding the party into a competitive and popular alternative to the Democratic political machine in Nevada. If the party insists on operating only for the benefit of Republicans who are active enough to show up to caucus meetings, it runs the very real risk of alienating itself from even more voters than it has already. Whether it’s a primary, caucus or simply pulling a name out of a hat, the GOP should be free to conduct its nomination process in whatever fashion it prefers. However, that doesn’t change the fact that holding a caucus just days after a scheduled statewide primary is likely to confuse and silence a large portion of its very own voters. No wonder the Silver State isn’t being overrun with presidential hopefuls vying for support: Their efforts likely aren’t going to matter much anyway. FAMOUS LAST WORDS “The Nevada caucus process is so messed up that it’s mostly ignored.” – Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks “Only a Democrat could love how the Nevada Republican Party is handling its role in the presidential selection process. … (T)he Nevada Republican Party has made the process extremely convoluted in an apparent effort to legally rig the election for the Trump campaign. Little wonder so few presidential candidates have bothered to show up here.” – Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.