Nevada, to me, has been one of the bigger surprises this election cycle. I fully expected this state to trend for Romney throughout the general election and fall into his column much like the trends we are seeing in Florida. But for a myriad of reasons, Nevada remains stubbornly leaning towards Obama and plenty of tea leaves say Romney will likely underperform here relative to his national performance. He may still win the state, but it will be closer than I expected it to be. Scott Conroy at Real Clear Politics takes a look at what’s going on in Nevada that has buoyed the President:
If the key issues in the election are jobs and the economy, there should be no easier venue for Mitt Romney to make his case than in a state where it has been harder for residents to find work than anywhere else and where more than 60 percent of mortgages remain underwater. “Nevada gives us a lot of opportunities because people know that if they’re voting for Barack Obama, they’re voting for the same thing they have today,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “The promises of Barack Obama matter, and he hasn’t followed through on housing. He hasn’t followed through on making it easier for people to get loans.” But so far, at least, that simple message has not been enough for Romney to overtake the president here. Obama leads his challenger by 4.6 percentage points in the latest RCP average of Nevada polls, and the Republican has not led in a single Silver State survey in the last year.
Housing comments haunt Romney
“As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things that you can do to encourage housing, one is don’t try and stop the foreclosure process,” Romney told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in October 2011. “Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up.” As soon as Romney’s “hit the bottom” remark was published, the sound bite became a linchpin for the Obama campaign’s effort to portray their opponent as insensitive to the struggles faced by the majority of homeowners here. With that one comment, Nevada Democrats had the ammunition they needed to make what might have otherwise been an impossible case: that the candidate who should be blamed for the state’s housing woes is the challenger, not the incumbent who has been guiding national policy for the last four years.
Nevada Democrats have expanded the 60,000-person advantage in voter registration they enjoyed over Republicans in 2010 to about 75,000 this year. [ed. — It’s silly they didn’t compare it with the 100,000 advantage Democrats had on 2008 or if they wanted to show Romney struggles they could have used the wave of Democrat resurgence the last few weeks]
[T]he Obama campaign has invested heavily in reaching out to Hispanic voters, who composed approximately 15 percent of the state’s electorate in 2010 — a number that Democrats expect to be surpassed this November. Recent polls have shown Romney’s support among Nevada Latinos to be between the mid-20s and the mid-30s. Even if the higher end of the range is more accurate, that level of support among the state’s largest minority group likely would not be enough to push Romney over the top here on Election Day.
State party infrastructure
[T]he president’s biggest trump card in Nevada may be organizational rather than demographic. Jon Ralston — a longtime political reporter and analyst for the Las Vegas Sun, who recently founded his own Web site chronicling the state’s political scene — credits the Democrats’ sizable advantage on the ground as a major reason Obama appears to have an edge. “The Republicans here have to be upgraded in order to be classified as inept, and you just have this situation that goes against what the economic conditions are,” Ralston said. “The RNC has come in here, to their credit, and realized that the Republican Party here is a joke, and so they’ve essentially set up a parallel organization with the Romney campaign [Team Nevada]. And they do have some good people who understand the state, but you can’t just erect that type of infrastructure overnight and be able to get a ground game going.” It was Democrats’ infrastructure that proved particularly successful turning out members of Nevada’s powerful service industry unions in 2010, propelling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to victory despite favorability rating that hovered in the low-30s and a state unemployment that year rose above a grisly 14 percent.