Nevada choice serves only Harry Reid

As we have stated previously in these pages, we are firmly opposed to putting any political contest -- caucus or primary -- ahead of New Hampshire's. We believe the Democratic National Committee's push for getting a more racially diverse state in the early mix is misplaced and undermines the candidate vetting process at which we here in the Granite State have become so proficient.

And while we believe the entire concept of adding another caucus to the process is wrong, we find the decision to make that contest Nevada's caucus almost laughable. It is another indication of just how wrongheaded the DNC has become.

It is true that Nevada is more racially diverse than New Hampshire. Nevada has a population that is 22 percent Latino and 7.5 percent black. That far exceeds New Hampshire, where only 1 percent of the population is black and 2 percent is Latino.

But Nevada's racial diversity is offset by several factors. That state has fewer high school and college graduates, for example, and those are just the people who are most capable of ferreting out the political reality from the candidate-manufactured myth.

Nevada encompasses about 110,000 square miles, making it more than 11 times larger than New Hampshire with about double the population. While candidates can crisscross New Hampshire in two days, it would take about a week to visit all of Nevada, which means the political process there relies primarily on candidate-produced TV and radio advertising rather than the face-to-face meetings that are the trademark of New Hampshire primaries and elections.

And then there is the issue of involvement. Nevadans are far less likely to participate in their caucus than New Hampshirites are in their primary. According to John Hamilton of the Nevada Democratic Party, only about 6,500 registered Democrats participated in the 2004 caucus, as compared to the 218,000 people who took part in the New Hampshire Democratic primary that year.

History shows Nevada residents didn't participate in the general election in numbers anywhere near those of their New Hampshire counterparts either. In 2000, during one of the most hotly contested presidential races in recent history, only 30 percent of the population voted as compared to 47 percent of New Hampshire's total population.

So, what makes more sense -- to have a racially diverse population that is not engaged in the political process or to have a predominantly white population that is politically involved and active?

We believe it is the latter and attribute the DNC subcommittee's choice of Nevada as the second political caucus state before New Hampshire's primary to political maneuvering by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and the influence of big Las Vegas gambling money on the process. And isn't that just what the Democrats roil against when it is done by the Republicans?

We cannot fathom why else, if enhancing the primary process is the goal, the DNC is considering Nevada as the state to place between Iowa and New Hampshire in that process. The miniscule number of voters who turn out for that state's caucuses and the functional inability of candidates to actually meet those voters to discuss the important issues that face this country make Nevada the last state any reasonable person would choose to lead off the primary process.

Placing Nevada second in that process fails to serve anyone in America other than Harry Reid and the high-rollers on the Vegas strip