Get it? Nevada is a wild card? Wow, good stuff. See, that’s the kind of highbrow precision wit you’ll find only at the Derby. You’re welcome.

I’m here in Reno for book business, but politics is all anyone wants to talk about. Nevada hasn’t had this much attention since the introduction of pasties.

Polls, for what they’re worth, show Hillary leading Obama by 4 points and Romney over McCain about the same margin. If the numbers hold up in both Nevada and South Carolina, we’re looking at split winners. The GOP numbers are more likely to stand up and a McCain win would be an upset given Romney’s organization in the state and the surprising number of Mormons that live here. The DEM polls are a trickier beast to trust. As even my nine-year-old now knows, Obama received the endorsement of the Culinary Workers, which also comprises casino and laundry workers. They are 60,000 strong, enough to make a huge impact in a race that’s all about game day organization. This should give Obama the boost to make up the difference in polls and take Hillary, right?

Not so fast my friend. (virtual high five if you name that reference in the comments) While the endorsement is important, and it’s certainly one Hillary and John Irrelevant wanted, its impact is overrated. How many of those 60,000 are registered voters? Many (and I mean many) are immigrants that are much less likely to be registered voters, much less registered democrats. And — wait for it — there could be a few illegals in the mix as well. I know, I know, stunning that a respected, trusted industry like gambling would stoop to such a thing.

So despite the endorsement, Nevada is Hillary’s to lose. She’s led in the polls since about 2004 and is strongly backed by the party establishment. But if Obama pulls out an upset in a tight race, and wins SC later tonight, Hillary’s NH momentum will be dead in its tracks and Obama becomes the undisputed front runner.

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