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Nevada/South Carolina: Winners and Losers

The Nevada caucuses and South Carolina Republican primary are behind us. The obvious winners were Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mitt Romney in the Silver State, and John McCain in the Palmetto State.

But The Fix likes to go beyond the headlines to provide our readers with the additional dish on who came out of today's vote smelling like a rose and who emerged just plain smelly.

Our take is below.

WINNERS

The Reids: Rory Reid went out on a limb last spring by signing on as chairman of Clinton's Nevada effort. That effort paid off, as Clinton's victory affirmed Reid's role as a power player in the Silver State. Rory's father, Harry, who also happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, finally got the early presidential vote in his home state that he had long craved. Nearly 120,000 people voted in the Democratic primary, a turnout that eclipsed even the most rosy of expectations -- except those of Sen. Reid who predicted a huge turnout.

Hispanics: Hispanic voters made their voices heard on behalf of Clinton. Hispanics comprised roughly 15 percent of the Nevada Democratic caucus electorate, and they went with Clinton by huge margins. Privately, Clinton's campaign was crediting Latinos with helping to deliver the state for her.

Math Nerds: The fight over whether Clinton or Obama won the most delegates in Nevada exposed the arcane and incredibly complex calculations that sit at the heart of this nomination fight. The Fix, an English major, could barely keep up.

Richard Quinn: McCain's longtime South Carolina consultant finally saw his candidate give a victory speech in the state. Quinn stuck with McCain in the dark days over the summer and finally got the win he so coveted.

LOSERS

John Edwards: Edwards insists he is in the race through the Democratic convention. That "damn the torpedoes" rhetoric sounds good, but when you get four percent of the vote in Nevada it rings a bit hollow. If Edwards only manages a third-place performance in South Carolina, does he pull out? Or does he stay in the race, seeking to collect delegates and improve his ability to be a kingmaker down the line?

Culinary Workers Union: The influential Las Vegas union came into today's caucuses with a lot on the line. A win for Obama would have affirmed the union as the most powerful force in Nevada Democratic politics. The loss, however, and the depth of the defeat along the Vegas Strip -- where Culinary was supposed to be at its most powerful -- is sure to stoke talk among Silver State politicos that the emperor has no clothes.

South Carolina Republicans: More than 573,000 South Carolinians turned out in 2000 to vote in the Republican primary between George W. Bush and McCain. With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, less than 400,000 votes had been cast. Contrast that with a surge in Democratic turnout in each of the first three primary/caucus states -- Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada -- and Republicans have reason to worry about November 2008.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 19, 2008; 9:49 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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