The Battle for Nevada

Nevada is one of the countries truest swing states with disaffected Californian’s moving in which helps Republicans while an increasing immigrant population helps Democrats.  Despite all the “demography is destiny” talk voters here express great concern over the economic woes that will likely determine the outcome in the Fall. The Associated Press breaks down the state of the Presidential race today:

Nevada is a true swing-voting state. It chose Clinton in 1992 and 1996, before swinging Republican in 2000 and 2004 for George W. Bush. It backed Obama in 2008. And if history is any guide, it could again choose the eventual White House victor, as it has every four years since 1980. The president is fighting against Nevada’s dismal economy while Romney faces a better-organized and better-funded state Democratic Party machine with a victorious track record. Those factors are leveling the playing field here, and Obama and Romney head into the summer seemingly locked in a close race in a state that both sides expect will be fiercely contested — and a true toss-up — throughout the fall.

It’s been largely a one-man show thus far:

At least $5.6 million in TV ads has been spent in the state, with Obama and his Democratic allies spending roughly $1.2 million more than Republican outside groups. Romney, himself, has yet to go on the air [Caveat not in the piece: Romney announced over the weekend a $113k ad buy in Nevada for this week in Las Vegas and Reno] …While Romney has yet to run any general election ads in Nevada, several outside groups are on the air and providing cover for him.

Who will decide the outcome:

Nevada’s outcome is all but certain to come down to a huge swath of independent and undecided voters here, many of whom say they’ll choose the candidate with the right economic prescriptions.perhaps more than in any other state, the race is shaped by the economy.

Challenges for Obama and his effort so far:

The state’s 11.7 percent unemployment rate is the highest in the nation, largely because of a tourism industry and service sector that has never rebounded from the Great Recession. And its once booming housing market has become a foreclosure wasteland, with one in every 300 homes receiving a foreclosure filing in April, according to the foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac. Those woes have left Obama grasping to hold on to a state he won handily in the 2008 election. So far, he has spent more than $3 million on television advertising here and has deployed a team of volunteers across the state.

This isn’t Romney’s first rodeo but he’s playing catch-up:
Romney has had electoral success in Nevada before, too. He won the state’s Republican caucus in February with more than 50 percent of the vote, four years after prevailing here during his first presidential run. But, in Nevada like elsewhere, Romney has been slow to ramp up his general election campaign and trails the president in fundraising, campaign organization, Hispanic voter outreach and media buys. He also only recently started to hire Nevada field staff and won’t open his first northern Nevada campaign offices until later this month.
Where is Obama’s strength?
Obama is popular with more progressive voters in laid-back Las Vegas, and his campaign thinks it can ramp up voter turnout among Democratic-leaning Hispanics. They make up 26 percent of Nevada’s population and many are immigrants from Mexico. Some have expressed reservations about the Republican Party’s anti-immigration rhetoric, and that could hurt Romney.
Where is Romney’s strength?
The core of Romney’s support in Nevada likely will be made up of conservative, tea party voters in the state’s northern reaches. Tea partyers concerned about Romney’s conservative credentials likely will overlook their worries and choose him because of a desire to vote Obama out of office come November. Romney also can count on strong support from his fellow Mormons. They represent about 9 percent of Nevada’s population, and reliably show up to vote, mainly for Republican candidates.
State party help strongly favors Obama:
Romney also must figure out how to counter Nevada’s proven Democratic get-out-the-vote machine. The state party is so good at identifying its supporters and making sure they head to the polls that Democrats managed to re-elect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2010, despite his widespread unpopularity. In contrast, Nevada’s Republican Party is the picture of disorganization and rivalry. Ron Paul supporters have succeeded in taking over the organization in recent months, hurting its ability to collect dollars from old-guard campaign donors alarmed at the Nevada GOP’s constant turmoil and posing a challenge for Romney. [Also not mentioned, there is an extensive effort forming an entire pro-Romney statewide organization called Team Nevada that works around the state party mess]

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