Democracy Falling Apart: A timeline of the Nevada Convention and why political revolution exists
Saturday's raucous state Democratic convention in Nevada encapsulated a lot of the themes of the party's 2016 election in a relatively short period: complex delegate math, inscrutable processes, allegations of deceit, fury — and a result that doesn't do much of anything to shift the race's eventual outcome.
Nevada's process for sending delegates to the national convention in Philadelphia is among the most complex. When the state caucused in late February, the fourth state on the calendar for the Democratic Party, the results of that process favored Hillary Clinton. Twenty-three of the 35 total bound delegates were given out proportionally in the state's four congressional districts, giving Clinton a delegate lead of 13 to 10. The results of the caucus suggested that after the state convention — which bound the state's seven at-large delegates and five delegates who are elected officials or party leaders — Clinton would end up with a 20-to-15 lead over Bernie Sanders, with Clinton winning one more delegate from the at-large pool (4-to-3) and one more from the party-leader pool (3-to-2) than Sanders.
The people who attend the Democratic convention this weekend were chosen during voting in early April. At that point, Sanders out-organized Clinton, getting 2,124 people elected to the state convention (according to the tabulation at the always-essential delegate-tracking site the Green Papers) to Clinton's 1,722. That suggested that voting at the state convention would flip: Sanders would win those 4-to-3 and 3-to-2 contests, giving him a 7-to-5 victory at the convention and making the state total 18-to-17 for Clinton instead of 20-to-15.
But that's not what happened, as best as we can piece together:
On Friday, Sanders's campaign released a statement (apparently after a conversation with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid) thanking his supporters in the state and saying that working together "respectfully and constructively on Saturday at the Nevada Democratic convention" would help the party beat Donald Trump in November. On Saturday morning, though, there was tumult.
Prior to the state convention, some Sanders supporters began an effort to shift the convention rules in a way that they viewed as more favorable to their candidate. One of those changes, the Las Vegas Sun reported, was a process for verifying voice votes; another took issue with the state party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, heading up the convention. Supporters at the event circulated petitions to the same end.
The scene was set.