Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2014

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Has Nevada gone blue?

Rest easy, Nevada. We’re still a battleground state.

At least so say political operatives on both sides of the aisle.

Admittedly, they may have a bit of a vested interest in saying so. Presidential battleground status opens the spigot to tens of millions of advertising dollars.

By the last count compiled by The Washington Post, $54 million was spent on Nevada airwaves to influence the presidential election here this year — that’s about $53 per vote cast here.

But some are questioning whether Tuesday’s results support the claim that Nevada’s six electoral votes are worth fighting over anymore.

President Barack Obama last week won Nevada convincingly for the second time. In fact, his margins in 2008 and 2012 far exceeded former President George W. Bush’s Nevada margins in 2000 and 2004.

Democrats have 90,000 more registered voters than Republicans. They have a well-financed party structure in place — an organization noticeably absent on the Republican side. And they have control of the state Legislature.

Some might say that doesn’t sound like the metrics of a true swing state.

Indeed, it’s starting to sound a lot like New Mexico — previously a battleground state before turning convincingly blue beginning about four years ago and disappearing from the presidential campaign radar screen.

Is Nevada in danger of becoming the dreaded flyover state that the presidential contenders pass by in between campaign stops in Colorado and fundraising stops in California?

Republicans, with a tinge of apprehension in their voices, say: Not yet.

“This is the bluest purple state in the country,” said Mac Abrams, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign manager. “But we’re still a purple state.”

Perhaps Heller’s victory is an indication of that. The Republican barely defeated Democrat Shelley Berkley, whose campaign was hamstrung from the beginning by a House ethics investigation.

But Republicans also point to the fact that Nevada’s most popular politician, Gov. Brian Sandoval, is a Republican. The party represents half of Nevada’s congressional delegation. And although the GOP narrowly lost an attempted takeover of the state Senate, the number of voters statewide backing a Republican candidate for the Legislature almost equaled the number of voters backing a Democratic candidate.

“Yes, we’re still a battleground state,” Republican strategist Robert Uithoven said. “However, we need to do significant work within the Republican Party to keep it a battleground state.”

And that’s where the argument becomes more than just how much battleground status increases the bottom lines for television station owners.

If Republican presidential contenders cede Nevada, they’re pretty much handing it over to the Democrats. And that’s not necessarily good for Republican candidates down ticket.

“At this point, it’s the Republicans' responsibility to keep us a battleground state,” Uithoven reiterated.

Democrats aren’t about to take Nevada for granted, either.

“Clearly it’s more Democratic than it used to be,” one Democratic operative said. “I think you can call it a Democratic-leaning state, but I personally feel less confident about calling it a solidly blue state.

“I don’t think we’re there yet. And Democrats have to be careful not to go down the same flawed path Nevada Republicans went down.”

Just a decade ago, Republicans were the powerful party in Nevada. Democrats had no party structure to rely on, held only one statewide office and seemed unable to wrest control of the state Senate away from the Republicans.

The story is a cautionary indication that the political balance of power in Nevada can easily execute an about-face.

So will Nevada voters have the same level of television ads, robo-calls and door knocks to complain about again in four years?

“I think they will,” the Democratic operative said. “If either side takes Nevada for granted, I think they do it at their own peril.”

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  1. Thanks for spending $53.00 of the 54 million you invested for my Barack Obama vote, Mr Adelson !

  2. Our Congressional delegation is split evenly, both in the Senate and in the House. That hardly makes Nevada a "blue" state. I'd say that is a solid "purple" if I remember the color chart correctly.

    It is time for a new party to come forward, one that has the fiscal responsibility that Republicans want, the social responsibility that Democrats want, and a big dose of pragmatism that Nevadans in general believe in.

    That is the purple party for our purple State. That is the Modern Whigs.

  3. Another GOOD thing Democrats DON'T have:

    KARL ROVE

  4. Enjoyed the article, but all indications show that Nevada is ever so slowly headed towards a Democratic Party super majority.

    Part of the reason for that is the out of touch message the Republican Party keeps holding onto, along with their major Tea Party protest movement infection. They are only appealing to the most hardcore followers. And not attracting new converts at all.

    Another thing, something that was not mentioned in this article, is that, besides the demographic breakup of voters out here who find the Tea/Republican Party message foul and undigestable, is that California, as of last Tuesday, has went to a Democratic Party super dooper majority. They have rejected the Tea/Republican crap so much that the Tea/Republicans who are left in their State Government are now considered to be beyond insignificance, not holding any influence at all on policy matters. Not only now but for a long, long time.

    And this means good news for Nevada.

    A lot of the people that move to Nevada actually come from California. And they will bring their politics and voting tendencies with them.

    Like I say, ever so slowly, within this generation, Nevada will turn shining bright blue.

    This worries Arizona too. Because they are shifting that way too. This past election, it has now come out that there is a strong indication that the Tea/Republicans in Arizona are desperately trying to hold onto power. Even going to lengths to reject brand new voters registration and/or not counting ballots.

    I make a prediction. Soon, the Pacific Southwest will outright reject the antiquated Tea/Republican out of step politics. Not only for awhile, but for a few generations.

  5. So what has changed in the last 10 years? Answer, Illegal immigration and the U.S. economy.

    Why is it democrat's fight so fiercely at efforts to require photo ID at the polls? Gotta love their answers, they hold as much water as a sieve.

    I believe the Nevada blue state shift has more to do with re-districting and how re-districting was done. Does anyone find it strange, how states that required photo ID the Democrats didn't fare so well?

    "A lot of the people that move to Nevada actually come from California. And they will bring their politics and voting tendencies with them". And before that move they came across the border from where? Gosh and California is doing so well financially that now gender confused in San Fran can and will have an operation to see if they can figure out just who really was trapped inside their body". Hey Las Vegas gender change doctors, good times are around the corner".

    Anyone needing a free phone or other free stuff should contact Colin as apparently Colin has no problem with others getting free stuff?

    I make a prediction. Soon, Colin will outright reject the silly and costly Obama/Democrat out of step politics when Colin's free stuff runs out and Colin does not have any more free stuff to take".

  6. The economy always crashes when commies and socialists come into power = Blue State.

    The U.S. is now officially a mob rule Democracy. The constitutional Republic is dead.

    Which republican state will be next to host displaced people of Sand just like Katrina sent thousands of democrats to Florida and Texas".?

  7. ...Sandy..

  8. Keep those thoughts comin' Paul, a couple more of you guys and Democrats will be a permanent majority.

  9. @PaulRupp...

    Funny you should mention "free phone"implying this is an Obama freebie.
    Actually, the "free phone" started in 1984. It was called "LifeLine".
    You can thank Mr. Reagan !

  10. Well Jess, remember that Reagan started out as a Democrat and a union guy. Maybe he was a mole subverting the Republican ideal.

  11. I must admit that the Republican party does seem to consistently promote Bronze Age ideas. Thanks to the internet everyone can see it. Over time it will compel almost everyone to become more reasonable (AKA Blue State).