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August 1, 2014

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Nevada political update: 3rd District a ‘toss up’

Bad news for Rep. Jon Porter.

The Cook Political Report has upgraded the race for Nevada's 3rd District from "lean Republican" to "toss up." (subscription required)

The reasons, according to the report, are in the political atmosphere:

"Republicans say that the three-term Porter received a gift in May when Democrats replaced their initial candidate, Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas, with state Sen. Dina Titus, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006. The problem for Porter? His real opponent may not be Titus, but the district’s rapid growth and political transience.

"When Porter first ran for this seat in 2002, the new 3rd CD was a 'fair fight' district, home to 117,938 Democrats and 120,262 Republicans in June of that year. By June 2006, Democrats had taken the lead in voter registration, but the count was still on a razor’s edge: 141,168 to 140,158. New voter registration statistics show that as of June 2008, this district’s Democrats outnumber its Republicans, 167,130 to 143,356."

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The report notes that Titus will likely close any fundraising gap with help from national Democrats and that she could benefit from some buyer's remorse on the part of voters who have soured on Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Still, the race is far from over. Titus' legislative record and high negatives could prove to be a goldmine for Porter and, as the report notes, the Republican's crossover appeal is considerable: In 2004 he won by 14 points while the presidential race in the district was essentially tied.

-- The Sun's Lisa Mascaro reports that the newspaper's investigation into construction worker deaths on the Strip is shaking things up in Washington.

High-profile senators including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Edward M. Kennedy, have urged the Bush administration to enforce safety regulations that could prevent more deaths, Mascaro reports.

-- Arizona Sen. John McCain is grappling with the new realities of his home state, The New York Times reports.

Interestingly, his campaign has listed Arizona as one of its 24 battleground states. Also, some interesting parallels to Nevada, including a surge in Democratic voter registration. Democrats, the paper notes, have added 20,000 new voters to the rolls since March, compared with the Republicans' 8,600 new voters. Arizona is also roughly 20 percent Hispanic and many Republicans there have taken a hard line on illegal immigrants.

The state party also recently came under the control of its conservative, activist branch, the paper says. The state party chairman attended a rally for Texas congressman and former Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul in May.

And then there's the trend of so-called "new independents:"

"My research shows that in Arizona, the new independent is a different type of person from seven years ago,” said Mr. Merrill, the polling expert. “That voter was more libertarian, more get-government-out-of-my-life. The new independents, which went heavily Democratic in the last election, are much younger, better educated and overwhelmingly antiwar.”

-- McCain's campaign announced this morning that he will be back in Nevada on Tuesday for a town hall meeting in Sparks.

-- Sen. Barack Obama is airing his first Spanish-language ads of the general election in a number of states, including Nevada. McCain has already aired Spanish radio ads here.

-- Meanwhile, Obama seems to have overcome his "Hispanic problem," according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, shows Hispanic registered voters support Obama over McCain 66 percent to 23 percent.

From the poll:

"The presumptive Democratic nominee's strong showing in this survey represents a sharp reversal in his fortunes from the primaries, when Obama lost the Latino vote to Hillary Rodham Clinton by a nearly two-to-one ratio, giving rise to speculation in some quarters that Hispanics were disinclined to vote for a black candidate.

"But in this new survey, three times as many respondents said being black would help Obama (32%) with Latino voters than said it would hurt him (11%); the majority (53%) said his race would make no difference to Latino voters."

The survey notes that more than three-quarters of Latinos who said they voted for Clinton in the primaries now say they are inclined to vote for Obama in November. Just 8 percent say they are inclined to vote for McCain.

-- Former President Bill Clinton is again showing Democrats he's still one of their best political strategists.

Consider the following statement delivered on a conference call yesterday announcing his participation in an Aug. 19 clean energy summit at UNLV. He's talking about investing in renewable energy:

"This is the best thing for the environment, the best thing for the national security and the best thing for the economy," Clinton said.

Former Vice President Al Gore has also been talking in those terms.

-- It's getting dirty. Anjeanette Damon has the entertaining details on her blog of a push poll conducted by supporters of Rep. Dean Heller, who is facing a challenge from former university regent and Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Jill Derby.

The best line: Heller "knows you can't haul supplies with a hybrid" and that "we need pick up trucks."

-- The respective heads of the Democratic congressional campaign committees expect to pick up "a whole bunch of seats" in November.

On the Senate side, Sen. Chuck Schumer expressed cautious optimism about getting to that magic number of 60, saying "It's very difficult, given the math, but not out of the question."

The Washington Post's Ben Pershing has some details.

On the House side, Rep. Chris Van Hollen was also optimistic but expressed concern about the deep pockets of Freedom's Watch, the independent expenditure group financed by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Van Hollen said the Republican campaign committee had "contracted out its operation to" outside groups, including Freedom's Watch and its "sugar daddy" Adelson.

According to Roll Call, Republicans dismissed those charges, as did Freedom's Watch. At a financial disadvantage, the GOP hopes to capitalize on Congress' low approval ratings and public outrage over high gas prices.

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