Although Marco Rubio was in Las Vegas, Nev. for a few hours on Feb. 23, 2016, the plan that he strategized for the Las Vegas caucus was much different than his other appearances. Rubio made it a priority to target the Mormon community like how Mitt Romney did in 2012.
Although the Mormon community only consists of four percent of the population in Nevada, it has been proven that their overall influence to the rest of the Republican population has impacted the results in the two Nevada caucuses previous years. Romney, who is a Mormon himself, significantly won their vote in 2008 and 2012. In 2008, he won 88 percent of their votes, and in 2012, he won 95 percent. In total, it has been recorded that Mormons consists of 25 percent of the Republican population in Nevada. Romney has also reported supporting Rubio in the 2016 Republican Presidential Race.
Rubio’s strategy to target the Mormon community needed to be different and effective to impact Las Vegas. His attempts to emphasize immigration reform may have attracted to Mormons and their ideals. Donald Trump, who has strongly administered building a wall to force immigration out of the country, contradicts Mormon beliefs. Mormonism values treating each human being as children of God. Knowing this point, the Mormon community could choose a candidate other than Trump.
According to FiveThirtyEight and a Pew survey regarding immigration in 2012, nearly 45 percent of members of LDS Church stated that immigration strengthened the United States. Almost 41 percent considered it a burden. In the same survey in 2015, though, it was reported that 43 percent of Republicans would consider voting for a candidate that promised the deportation of illegal immigrants.
Rubio, who is a Las Vegas native, attended a Mormon church as a child. He and his family lived in Las Vegas for six years, and it was here that they converted to Mormonism. He has an emotional connection with the city. His father worked as a bartender at a casino, and his mother worked in a hotel. Many family members still reside in the city. He has more family members in Las Vegas, versus Florida, where he has been the Florida State Senator since 2011.
Nearly 1,700 Nevada residents solemnized in North Last Vegas at the Texas Station casino. Rubio’s entourage included a former member of New Kids on the Block, a cast member from Las Vegas’ Pawn Stars, a congressman, and a senator, who all spoke before Rubio took the stage at the Nevada caucus.
Rubio has yet to win a caucus or a primary, but is not worried about being the first choice, he is worried about being the best choice for president. He expressed that as other candidates continue to drop out, then other Republicans join his team. With this, his team will grow in size, and he has accepted that being the second choice is just as valuable as being the best choice.
So far, Rubio finished third in Iowa. In New Hampshire, he finished fifth, and in South Carolina, he finished second. The Nevada caucus started his tour that will cover three more states. After leaving Las Vegas hours after the morning caucus, he boarded a plane to Minneapolis, Minn. He also traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich. He will head to Houston, Texas on the 24th. Although Rubio attempted a different strategy in Las Vegas by targeting the Mormon community, Trump is expected to win the Nevada caucus.
By Tricia Manalansan
NBC News: Marco Rubio Woos Voters as ‘Best Choice’ for Win in November
The Washington Post: The Nevada caucuses are Trump’s to lose – and he still could
FiveThirtyEight: Rubio And Cruz Need The Mormon Vote In Nevada
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