Early primary states are like Judy Garland, John Wayne, and Zach Galifianakis: They're typecast. They have their roles, and campaigns and political media tend to stick to them. In Iowa, you find out how a candidate fares with evangelicals. In New Hampshire, moderates. In South Carolina, African Americans. And in Nevada, as of late: Latinos.
But while all of these states are evolving—how about Donald Trump and those New Hampshire moderates?—nowhere has the narrative shifted more than Nevada.
OK, that may be putting it a bit strongly. Nevada is the first primary state with a sizable Latino population, which accounts for 17.2 percent of voters there. Compare that to between 2 and 3 percent in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina; no other state comes close until after Super Tuesday. Candidates know this well and target accordingly; see Hillary Clinton's latest campaign video for proof.
But Nevada has another distinction: It was one of the states hardest hit by the subprime-mortgage foreclosure crisis, a continuing concern that's left a mark on the housing market as big as the Las Vegas Strip.
Eight years after the Great Recession, the state's foreclosure rate is still more than twice the U.S. average. More than a fifth of Las Vegas-area homeowners are underwater, meaning they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. And Nevada's 6.4 percent unemployment rate ranks it 47th out of the 50 states, quite a ways from New Hampshire (4) or Iowa (6).