Tag Archives: housing

Romney’s Nevada Problem

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.

Voter Registration

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]

Hispanics

[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.

The Battle for Nevada — The Buffalo News

Interesting story on the state of affairs in Nevada from The Buffalo News. They take and in-depth look at the lay of the land in this Battleground with its cross-currents of issues and needs through the eyes of some Buffalo ex-pats in the Silver State:

CoreLogic, a company that tracks real estate data, says 64.7 percent of Las Vegas-area homeowners were “under water” early this year – meaning the value of their homes plunged so far that they owe more on the mortgage than the place is worth. Welcome to Nevada, land of the endless Great Recession, where the 12.1 percent unemployment rate leads the nation and where President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are fighting fiercely for six electoral votes and the loyalty of voters like John McGinty. The choice, undecided voters and some experts said, pits a Democratic president who has tried and failed to end an economic nightmare against a Republican who might just make things better – or worse. The real estate collapse that happened here and around the nation four years ago is not Obama’s fault, nor Romney’s. It’s the fault of a nation that turned its real estate market into Las Vegas – and left 60 percent of the homeowners in Nevada, and more than a third of those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Michigan, under water in the process. All the boom towns went on the same real estate roller coaster ride. As the government encouraged home ownership, banks took to bundling and selling off their mortgages in packages and relaxed lending standards along the way.

Las Vegas

The result was evident in Las Vegas by the mid-2000s. Fueled by such speculation, the median home value in Las Vegas shot up from $205,200 in January 2004 to a peak of $315,000 in June of 2006. But then came the financial crisis. Confidence fell, lending standards tightened, investors started bailing on their properties – and the median home price here plummeted to a low of $118,000 this January. It’s bounced back to $138,000 since then, but signs of the collapse can still be seen everywhere. Two would-be casinos on the Strip have stood unfinished for years. Started and abandoned developments dot the suburban landscape.

Housing bust reality

And at Johnny Mac’s, John McGinty finds himself handing out the occasional free lunch and personal loan to loyal customers in need. “I do what I can to help,” McGinty said. He does this while coping with a downturn in business and mortgage payments on a three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot home he bought for $495,000 in the mid-2000s that, he reckons, is worth about $210,000 today. Countless Las Vegas homeowners, most of them speculators, have found themselves in McGinty’s situation and walked away, intentionally defaulting on their mortgages. Economic experts say the real estate crash wrecked consumer confidence and crushed the job market, leading to an unemployment rate that’s three full percentage points higher than Buffalo’s.

Frequent visitors, Different ideas

Obama and Romney have had plenty of time for Nevada. The president will arrive here today for three days of debate preparation; it’s his ninth visit of the campaign. Romney, meanwhile, has been here six times. Yet what they’re offering voters could not be more different.

The Obama Plan for Nevada

Obama sticks by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which is aimed at curbing the excesses that caused the financial crisis. In addition, he touts elements of his 2009 stimulus bill that aimed to make it easier for troubled homeowners to refinance, or even to get lenders to agree to reduce the amount of principal on troubled loans, and criticizes Congress for not expanding the refinancing program as he suggested. The trouble is, banks seem to be reluctant to take part in the original Obama refinancing and principal-reduction programs, said Kelley, head of the Realtors group. Besides, many troubled homeowners have second mortgages – and the holders of those loans are not cooperating.

The Romney Plan for Nevada

Romney wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank law, saying it’s so burdensome that lenders are now reluctant to make home loans. He also offers varying free-market proposals for addressing the Nevada housing crisis. “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process,” he told the Las Vegas Review Journal last October. “Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” And on a Sept. 21 trip to Sin City, the GOP nominee went a step further. “The federal government has about 200,000 foreclosed homes they are holding onto,” Romney said. “I’ll make sure we get them sold, so every home is occupied, we fix our neighborhoods,” The trouble with Romney’s comments is twofold, Las Vegas-area economic experts and political pundits said. First off, letting foreclosures move forward, or putting 200,000 more homes on the market all at once, very well could depress housing values further.
On the political side, Romney’s let-them-eat-cake comments on foreclosures reinforced the Democratic caricature of him as an out-of-touch plutocrat. “It’s a very bad sound byte for him,” said Jon Ralston, a Buffalo native and longtime Las Vegas political reporter who now publishes RalstonFlash.com, a political newsletter.

Ground game is key

Ralston finds it “astonishing” that Obama appears to have an edge in a state with a 12.1 percent unemployment rate, but that appears to be the case. The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls in the Silver State finds Obama 3.8 points ahead, and political pundits say there are plenty of explanations for that edge. “The state Republican party is very much a broken party,” said David Damore, a UNLV political scientist. Party control swung to a faction loyal to Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, in May. The result: the Romney campaign has had to build a get-out-the-vote effort from scratch to compete with a Democratic effort honed in Obama’s 2008 victory here and the re-election of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid two years later. “The Democrats have a very effective ground game,” said former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, a Democrat who nonetheless said the race remains “too close for any comfort.”

Demographics

Obama is getting a boost, too, from the state’s Hispanics, who now account for more than a quarter of the state population. Political pros here say heated GOP rhetoric on the immigration issue has helped propel the president to a 43-point lead among Hispanics in a Public Policy Polling survey last month. “A lot of (Hispanics) don’t understand how powerful the vote is,” said Arianni Valencia, 20, a Romney volunteer who specializes in reaching out to the Hispanic community. “They’re not even sure what it is to be a Republican or a Democrat. But they see the other side reaching out to them, and we’re trying to catch up.”

The deciding factor

Sherman Conley, 71, seemed to sum up the thoughts of many of the dozens of Nevada voters interviewed last week by The Buffalo News. “It’s a critical election,” said Conley, a Buffalo native, “and I’ve got to figure out who will do me the least amount of harm.”

State of the Race: Nevada

Nevada is a strange nut to fully understand.  A solid majority of voters come from Clark County (home to Las Vegas) which is solidly Democrat whereas the rest of the state is Republican.  The difference in each election is simply how each campaign “minds the gap” shrinking or expanding its margins across these two realities. There is a non-existent state GOP party (which is how you end up with Sharon Angle as your Senate candidate in 2010) that got overrun by Ron Paul zealots (and I mean zealots)  such that the Romney campaign and RNC joined forces to form a fully funded shadow party Team Nevada run by some of the refugees from the hollowed out state party.  At the same time Romney is still licking his wounds from telling the economic truth that the housing market needs to bottom before it can rebound. This was a bit of hard truth Nevadans didn’t (and still don’t) want to hear since much of their prosperity was based on the excesses of the housing bubble and they are still wading through its aftermath. Despite all this the race is still a dead-heat.  Obama’s lead in the polls is much like his lead elsewhere, predicated on a Democrat turnout unlikely to be seen in 2012. Team Obama also got a boost when a the powerful culinary union backed off its threat to sit out the election and will now send its troops to support Obama although at a 20% reduced level than 2008. But the reality is, like many of the Battleground States, while are open to changing the resident in the White House Nevada is still waiting for Mitt Romney to “make the sale” and win their vote:

If there’s anywhere President Obama should be deep in a hole, it’s here in Nevada, which has been flattened by the Great Recession like few other places. The state suffers the highest unemployment rate in the country and for many months led the nation in home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies as well.  But with just over six weeks left until the election, the president holds a small but steady lead in this Western battleground.

The economy

The economy and its lackluster performance is the overriding issue this election: Countless polls and other voter surveys have made that abundantly clear. But for many there is no straight line from disappointment on that front to a vote for Romney or, conversely, any assurance that those feeling better off are ready to support Obama…The economy remains a big concern in Nevada. At 12.1%, joblessness is 4 percentage points higher than the national rate. And, while there are incipient signs of a housing recovery, with foreclosures down and even some improvement in home values, experts say it may be decades before the state’s devastated real estate market and construction industry fully mend.

Party ID dictates views

Still, more than three dozen random interviews with residents across the Reno area — the swing portion of a swing state — found that some things mattered more than dollars and cents to people weighing their votes. Party loyalty was a big factor, a thumb on the scale for Obama as aggressive organizing efforts and a feeble GOP have given Democrats a voter-registration advantage of more than 60,000 statewide. (For perspective, there were about 1 million votes cast in the presidential race in Nevada in 2008.) Democrats…praised Obama for tackling the tough situation he inherited. Republicans said Obama had been as bad, or worse, than they anticipated back in 2008…[lamenting] the “horrendous” debt that has grown dramatically under the president. For those less partisan — the independent and persuadable voters who will probably decide the election — there was less inclination to blame the president for the slow recovery and little faith that any politician, Democrat or Republican, could make a huge difference right away. So other issues came up.

Opening for Romney

[One voter] worries about the effect the president’s healthcare overhaul will have on her husband’s small construction business, which is finally picking up after several tough years. She wants to hear what Romney has to say in the debates before deciding whether to vote for the president again. Others, too, said they might back the former Massachusetts governor if they warmed up to him some and were convinced he could do a better job than Obama, especially in boosting the economy. But it’s not a given, even for those who have had it rough over the last few years.

More than the economy

The simple “are you better off” question worked brilliantly when Ronald Reagan posed it in 1980 as a campaign capper in his debate against Jimmy Carter. But even if most here were quick to say yes or no, their answers only scratched at the deeper calculations many are making as they decide how — and even whether — to vote.

Romney Supporters Wooing Black Voters

Specifically in Milwaukee. David Fredoso has the goods:

When President Obama arrives in Wisconsin on Saturday, he’ll be greeted by a cable ad buy aimed at black voters in Milwaukee. The spot, funded by the Black Republican PAC, intersperses statistics on the economic well-being of African Americans in the Obama era — “unemployment, home foreclosures and food security” — with clips from Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, in which he famously urged his audience to “quit complaining.” The cable ad buy is for $100,000, according to the group, which will cover spots on BET, ESPN, MSNBC, The Oprah Winfrey Network and Oxygen.

Battleground Highways — The I-4 Corridor

We have blogged about the most important strip of road in Florida — the I-4 Corridor — previously as part of larger posts.  But the Daily Herald took a look specifically at this road and its role in determining the outcome of Florida’s 29 electoral votes:

The once-booming Florida economy that was battered by the recession and is now recovering at a frustratingly slow pace. Once a symbol of explosive Sunbelt development, where construction cranes seemed as common as palm trees, this haven for retirees, tourists and Northern transplants is trying to recapture its glow. But first the state has to bounce back from a housing bust and a steep plunge in population growth. Florida’s economy is center stage in President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s high-stakes campaign for the rich trove of 29 electoral votes. One of the biggest prizes still up for grabs, this state, a hard-fought White House battleground in 2000, could be just as pivotal this year. And no turf may be more important than the I-4 corridor, the heart of swing voter country, home to foreclosures and fresh starts, pain and prosperity, hope, anxiety and a frustration with politics — America in microcosm.

Stark contrasts

If the glittery, crowded empire of Mickey Mouse offers a sunny view of Florida’s recovery, a half-hour away on I-4, a cavernous warehouse provides a stark contrast. Walking past rows of floor-to-ceiling mayonnaise jars, ketchup bottles, soup cans, baby carriages, blankets and tons of other supplies, Dave Krepcho, CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, doesn’t mince words: “We have a disaster going on, but it’s an economic disaster,” he says. “Month in and month out, I can’t believe the numbers.”

Food bank numbers tell a difficult tale

In the past four years, food distribution to 500 pantries, shelters, and other relief agencies in the six-county area has jumped about 60 percent. In the last year alone, that amounted to 36 million pounds of food. In a four-year period concluding at the end of 2009, the number of people served by the food bank skyrocketed from nearly 300,000 to 732,000 — and Krepcho says he hasn’t seen any decline in need since then. He estimates about 30 percent of those seeking help are first-timers. They’re blue-collar and white-collar, many middle class, even some upper middle class. They include college-educated couples and professionals. Krepcho knows their stories: The engineer who lost his job, his wife found work as a billing clerk, but they still couldn’t avoid foreclosure; the teacher who migrated to Florida for a job, only to see it disappear a year later in budget cuts.

Voter cynicism remains high

Four years ago, Barack Obama’s message of hope propelled him to the White House. Now he and Romney face the daunting challenge of selling economic remedies to voters wary of election-year promises. Both candidates have been frequent visitors to Florida and constant TV presences, pouring in tens of millions of dollars into commercials in this incredibly diverse state.

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Democrat Perspective: Is Nevada Still a True Toss-up?

This is beginning to remind me of the “inevitable” re-election meme started by Obama surrogates in the media 6-9 months ago as if Obama was a shoe-in this November so why even discuss Republicans as credible challengers.  That all changed this Spring when the GOP settled on a nominee, Obama showed himself to be an economically incompetent paper tiger and every poll showed the race essentially tied.  Now the economy is only getting worse, the Obama gaffe machine is in overdrive, his campaign finances are a shambles and the $100 million negative ad campaign against Romney had no discernible effect.

Yet, another story hits the news about a true Battleground state like Nevada wondering why we even talk about it being competitive. Obama’s the incumbent, he won the state by 12.5 points in 2008 and the most recent polls show it averaging about a 5-point lead when the writer even admits Romney hasn’t really even begun to campaign in a state with figurative political fault-times across every spectrum of the economy.  Still the sycophantic media adds it all up and sees Romney have having so little chance that neither campaign will spend time or money in the state between now and November. Truly astonishing. Here is Obama re-election writer from Time magazine asking “Is Nevada still a true toss-up?”

Nevada is rightfully known as a swing state–the polling there is closer than in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania or Indiana, for example, and it’s one of a handful of states now bearing the load of early advertising dollars in the presidential race. Obama has spent $7.2 million in the state since May. And Washoe isn’t just any swing county either–it’s one of 272 nationwide that voted twice for George W. Bush before flipping to Obama in 2008. But there are a few signs that Nevada now lies at the outer margin of toss-up states, leaning in Obama’s direction.

The oft-debunked “coalition of the ascendent” cliche

Obama won Nevada by 12 and a half percentage points in 2008, a larger margin of victory than in Minnesota, home of Paul Wellstone and Walter Mondale. It was high-water year for Democrats to be sure, but the margin suggested a larger shift. In 1996, Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole with ease, running up 10-point victories in states like Pennsylvania, just as Obama did against John McCain. But Clinton only won Nevada by 1 point. What changed? According to the Census Bureau, Nevada’s population grew 35% between 2000 and 2010; Latinos, who now comprise more than a quarter of the state’s population and break Democratic, accounted for nearly half that growth.

Mormon vote in Nevada over-rated

Romney is often said to have his own demographic advantage in Nevada because of its sizable Mormon population. But Mormons only comprise about 6.5% of the population and are already a high-turnout, conservative-leaning bloc. In 2008, people from religions other than Protestantism and Catholicism accounted for 7% in Nevada’s exit polls, and Mormons said they preferred McCain to Obama by more than 3-1 in pre-election polling. Romney can probably do even better, but that’s unlikely to swing Nevada for him on its own.

Housing collapse won’t hurt Obama either
Neither is the issue of housing, which has hit Nevada hard: Up until this year, the state spent 62 consecutive months with the most foreclosures in the nation. Obama’s record on this issue is pretty miserable, and critics have panned his Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program. But Romney is not in a strong position to offer more–he told the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2011 that the foreclosure process needs to “run its course and hit the bottom.” Let the market work. He may have gotten his wish: the U.S. housing market is beginning to look up, and national trend lines have historically had a much larger effect on presidential races than local factors.
Polls say 5-point lead before anyone spends a lot of resources so the state is in the bag for Obama
Nonetheless, Nevada isn’t quite on the knife’s edge. Among the polling averages of the 11 states considered toss-ups under the most generous definition in 2012–Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Missouri–Nevada has the second largest gap, at +5.2 percentage points for Obama. That’s reflected in campaign resource allocation as well. Despite consistent spending in the Silver State, the President’s campaign has directed more to states like Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia. American Crossroads, the Republican third-party group spending on Romney’s behalf while he awaits his party’s nomination, has spent more in almost every swing state than in Nevada.

Is Nevada a Blurprint for an Obama Victory?

Harry Reid’s improbable re-election in 2010 is giving Democrats hope for a repeat in 2012 at the Presidential level. The author, John Dickerson, is very good but I seriously question his statement that “Nevada is Obama’s to lose…”  I’d like to know which ostensible “republican strategist” concurred with that whopper. Either way, Democrats hope lightening strikes twice and they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat:

Nevada should be a state Barack Obama has no chance of winning. In an election about the state of the economy, no state has been harder hit. The unemployment rate is 11.6 percent, the highest in the nation. Sixty-one percent of the homes are worth less than the mortgage on them, also the highest in the nation. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, but everyone there is underwater.  Still, Barack Obama has a shot in Nevada. He won Nevada by 12 points in 2008 and an average of polls right now shows the president ahead by 5 points (and perhaps more if you believe pollsters underestimate the Hispanic vote). Analysts in both parties say the state is the president’s to lose. Nevada is the most acute example of the key political dynamic in this election: The weight of a bad economy should sink the incumbent, but a combination of fortunate demographics and superior organization in the battleground states might rescue him in the end.

Broken economy

The economy in Nevada isn’t just bad, it’s broken.  At the height of the boom in 2006, construction represented 12 percent of the workforce. Since the housing bubble burst, 90,000 construction jobs have been lost. Construction workers now represent only 4 percent of the workforce. No one expects the industry to return to earlier heights. Anyone who might want to swing a hammer in another state can’t leave, because they’d lose money on their house. In the first quarter of 2012, Nevada had the No. 1 foreclosure rate in the nation. The rate of debt to house value in Nevada is 114 percent. People aren’t just hurting, they’re imprisoned.

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Obama’s Gangster Government Coming to a City Near You

In a hugely unreported story, two major Obama supporters are attempting to use municipal eminent domain power to:

  1. seize underwater mortgages
  2. dramatically reduce the principal on the mortgage, and
  3. sell it back to a home-buyer

This process would use questionable government authority to enrich major Obama campaign donors at the expense of lending banks. The two main people at the top of this venture are Steven Gluckstern, who was an early 2007 Obama supporter and has maxed out his contributions to the 2012 Obama campaign, and Roger Altman who was forced to resign from the Clinton Administration, is an Obama insider and is a major bundler for the Obama campaign (Note: Altman’s firm made over $60 million in the Obama orchestrated GM bankruptcy):

A handful of local officials in California who say the housing bust is a public blight on their cities may invoke their eminent-domain powers to restructure mortgages as a way to help some borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth. Eminent domain allows a government to forcibly acquire property that is then reused in a way considered good for the public—new housing, roads, shopping centers and the like. Owners of the properties are entitled to compensation, which is usually determined by a court. But instead of tearing down property, California’s San Bernardino County and two of its largest cities, Ontario and Fontana, want to put eminent domain to a highly unorthodox use to keep people in their homes. The municipalities, about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles, would acquire underwater mortgages from investors and cut the loan principal to match the current property value. Then, they would resell the reduced mortgages to new investors.

The eminent-domain gambit is the brainchild of San Francisco-based venture-capital firm Mortgage Resolution Partners, which has hired investment banks Evercore Partners and Westwood Capital to raise funds from private investors. The company’s chief executive, Graham Williams, is a mortgage-industry veteran who helped pioneer lending programs for low-income borrowers at Bank of America Corp. BAC in the early 1990s. Its chairman, Steven Gluckstern, is an entrepreneur who once owned the New York Islanders hockey franchise. Evercore’s founder and co-chairman, Roger Altman, served in the Clinton administration and is raising funds for President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.

For a home with an existing $300,000 mortgage that now has a market value of $150,000, Mortgage Resolution Partners might argue the loan is worth only $120,000. If a judge agreed, the program’s private financiers would fund the city’s seizure of the loan, paying the current loan investors that reduced amount. Then, they could offer to help the homeowner refinance into a new $145,000 30-year mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which has a program allowing borrowers to have as little as 2.25% in equity. That would leave $25,000 in profit, minus the origination costs, to be divided between the city, Mortgage Resolution Partners and its investors.

[The program] would begin with a $5 billion effort in California that could grow to three million mortgages as part of a $500 billion multistate effort.

Gangster government combined with crony capitalism at its very worst.

Battleground Counties: Hillsborough County, Florida

One of my favorite topics this election season are the Battleground Counties that will truly decide this election.  We’ve covered a few of these so far and here is an extensive look at one of the more important players due to the electoral votes at stake: Hillsborough County, Florida which includes Tampa, home of the Republicans National Convention this year.  Travelers advisory warning: this write-up is full of a lot of great data.  But the author veers off into wholly inaccurate information and some partisan opinion writing when it comes to Obama’s organizational operation in the state.  It’s unfortunate because these inaccuracies and biased rhetoric mar what is otherwise a great look at an all-important Battleground County:

In 2008, Hillsborough became the only Florida county that had backed Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 to flip to Barack Obama. A surge of minority voters, young people, and independents helped Obama wring 68,000 more votes out of Hillsborough than John Kerry had, propelling him to a 7-point victory over Republican nominee John McCain in the county. How closely divided is Hillsborough? Of the 1.95 million votes cast in presidential elections since 1992, Republican nominees won only about 14,000 more than Democratic nominees. The outcome in the Tampa Bay market has run within 2 percentage points of the statewide result in every presidential election since 1992. The campaign here will pit Obama’s organizational power and his capacity to take advantage of the region’s shifting demographics against Romney’s message of fiscal prudence, backed by the state’s all-powerful GOP establishment, and played against the backdrop of a still-sputtering local economy.

How South Florida’s eastern and western counties achieved their ideological split

Liberal Northeasterners headed south on I-95 to Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, turning South Florida into a Democratic stronghold, while folks from Michigan and Ohio took I-75 to Florida’s west coast. The influx bestowed on Hillsborough County a Midwestern sensibility that’s more practical than ideological.

Fiscal conservatism in the county

In one obvious sign of the county’s penny-pinching mind-set, tea party activists help lead a successful battle in 2010 against a 1-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for light rail and other transportation projects in the county. The Democratic nominee for governor that year, Alex Sink, hailed from Hillsborough County but won here by only 10,000 votes. That slim margin of victory helped Republican Rick Scott, a former corporate executive who promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years, narrowly win statewide.

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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:

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Battleground Counties: Orange County, Florida

Fox News did a ~4 minute expose on Orange County, unquestionable Battleground county at the top of the all-important I-4 corridor. As we written previously, in elections Florida is 3 states: the North (overwhelmingly Republican), the South (overwhelmingly Democrat) and the I-4 corridor comprising 40% of voters and the segment the determines the outcome in nearly all statewide elections.

This was a county that split nearly 50/50 in both 2000 and 2004 which also mirrored the statewide results. In 2008, Obama won the state by 3% but he carried this swing county by 18% — an incredible performance. Today tells a different story.Take a look at a county hit hard by the housing crises but seeing signs of a turnaround

Nevada Opportunity for Romney

With fundraising stops in Nevada generating plenty of news for Romney (both good and bad), the Wall Street journal looks at the opportunities and challenges to flip this state from Blue to Red.

Opportunities/Strengths for Romney:

  • Economically damaged state = opportunity. The Romney message that Mr. Obama’s economic policies have failed may be ideally suited to a state with 11.7% unemployment—the highest in the nation—along with widespread mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcies
  • Romney easily won Nevada’s caucuses, with 50% of the vote. Mormon voters make up 11% of the population and reliably turn out to vote (5.6% of the adult population is Mormon according to Gallup)
  • Crossroads GPS has launched a $25 million television-ad blitz with spots attacking the president in states including Nevada. Americans for Prosperity, another independent conservative group, has picked up the ground-game side, identifying and registering voters.

Challenges for Romney:

  • Romney has only a shell of an organization in Nevada. Rep. Paul’s supporters have snapped up Republican Party leadership positions at the state and county levels. The tension came to a head this month when Paul supporters took over the state’s GOP convention, electing 22 national convention delegates for Mr. Paul and only three for Mr. Romney.
  • The RNC, which coordinates with the Romney campaign, skirted the state party when it opened its first office in Nevada. Top officials in the Clark County GOP resigned to join the Romney effort, dubbed Team Nevada. Even donors have grown irritated with the situation. One demanded that the Clark County GOP return donated desks, tables and chairs.
  • Statewide, there are about 20% more registered Democrats than Republicans.
  • One of the RNC’s first hires was a Latino-outreach director, but Mr. Romney’s immigration policies could hurt his chances.

Opportunities/Strengths for Obama:

  • Obama recently stopped in the state to tout housing policies aimed at preventing foreclosures — a hot-button topic in the real estate damaged state
  • Hispanics make up more than a quarter of the state’s population and accounted for 13% of its electorate in 2010
  • The Obama campaign, parts of which remain from 2008, has expanded with help from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s grass-roots organization, set up ahead of the 2010 midterm elections amid fiery anti-incumbent sentiment.
  • Both candidates are looking to Latino voters for an edge. Polls show that Hispanics prefer Mr. Obama by a wide margin, but the president faces hurdles in making sure they are registered and motivated to vote.

Although specific challenges for Obama were not outlined in the piece, they were implicit in the Opportunities section for Romney.  Obama must overcome one of the worst economies in the nation and heal deep wounds from early in his presidency when he publicly castigated businesses for holding conferences in Las Vegas — a main area of employment in the economically torn state.

Democrat Perspective: Why Obama Will Win Nevada

Despite my strong political leanings, I challenge myself to find thoughtful opposing views on important issues rather than fall into group-think by only viewing facts, figures, and reasoning that support my position.  With this in mind I hope to regularly feature a liberal view or two arguing against Romney or for Obama in a given Battleground state. With Mitt Romney fundraising in Nevada right now I figure that state is as good as any to kick-off this feature. Tom Kludt at Talking Points Memo took an extensive look at the problems in Nevada and why it should be fertile ground for Romney yet still favors Obama.

From a distance, the state should favor Romney based on 3 factors:

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