Tag Archives: mormons

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.

Battleground State Snapshots: Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Nevada

The Washington Post takes a look at four Battleground states and the driving factors in each that may determine its outcome in this election:

Between red states and blue states, the debate rages:

  • Has the government grown so big that it smothers us, or is it too small a raft to keep the most vulnerable from drowning?
  • Should we be more worried about the care and security promised our parents, or the debt we are leaving our children?
  • And in a nation built by wave after wave of mostly European immigrants, who should get to be an American? That issue has returned to the fore at a moment when the country has rounded a demographic corner: Whites no longer account for a majority of births.

This year’s election could very well turn on those questions — though it is not likely to settle them.

Most of the electoral battle will be fought in about a dozen swing states. Four of them — Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Nevada — also are the settings of intense Senate races. They will help determine control of that chamber and, with it, how much leverage the next president will have. Obama won these four states in 2008. But they now have Republican governors, all elected in the past four years, showing how unsettled their electoral landscapes are. They are being bombarded with political advertising, much of it negative, from the presidential campaigns and from outside groups. Here is what their emerging political contours look like.

Nevada: Economics and demographics

Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, though it showed some improvement in May, and has been one of the states hit hardest by housing foreclosures. The state is also seeing a demographic shift: Hispanics made up 3 percent of Nevada voters in 1996, but they accounted for 15 percent in 2008. Mormons make up about 7 percent of Nevada’s population but vote in large numbers. Polls showed that about a quarter of the participants in Nevada’s February GOP caucuses were Mormons, and Romney won them handily. He also won the caucuses.

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Demographics Watch: Mormons and Jews

No political observer expects President Obama to win a majority of votes among Mormons nor do they expect Governor Romney to win a majority of votes among Jews.  However both camps are greatly concerned with “minding the gap” which means reducing the margin by which their opponent carries one group. A Gallup poll released today reveals some good news for the Romney campaign and concerning news for the Obama campaign:

(2012) LDS Jews All
Romney 84 29 46
Obama 13 64 46
(2008)
McCain 75 23 42
Obama 19 74 51

We see among both groups Romney dramatically outpaces McCain, improving by +15 percentage points among Mormons and +16 percentage points among Jews. Although the respective representations of these groups is comparatively small across the nation, each can provide the margin of victory in Battleground states like Nevada (Mormons) and Florida (Jews) respectively.A larger than normal turnout among Mormons is also expected due to the historic nature of Romney being the first Mormon to run as the candidate for President of a major party in the general election.

This is similar to the impact, though on a larger scale, between Barack Obama and African-American voters in 2008. While most demographic groups are not monolithic in their views, certain groups do overwhelmingly break for one political party or the other. In these situations, candidate with an unusual historic candidacy (the first African-American President for instance) can exacerbate even the most lopsided of support. African-Americans historically have voted with Democrats ~90% of the time. In 2008, Obama was able to both increase their turnout (up 2 million versus 2004) AND increase the percentage to 95% of the African-American vote. This level of turnout made the difference in states where the margin of victory was very close like North Carolina (14,177) and Indiana (28,391).

More Money Than Ever to be Spent on Fewer States Than Ever

The New York Times takes a deep dive on the top ad spending markets this Presidential campaign season. Today 9 states dominate campaign ad focus:

Given the volatility of the electorate, the map could easily expand or contract from the current nine — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia — in the weeks and months ahead. And advertising is only the most tangible sign of which states are competitive. There are other factors like voter registration and organization that play important roles.

A whole lot of money focused on the fewest voters in modern elections:

In the spring of 2000, George W. Bush and Al Gore fought an air war in close to 20 states. In early 2004, there were the “Swing Seventeen.” And in 2008, the Obama campaign included 18 states in its June advertising offensive, its first of the general election.

With so many resources focused on persuading an ever-shrinking pool of swing voters, the 2012 election is likely to go down in history as the one in which the most money was spent reaching the fewest people. Since the beginning of April, four-fifths of the ads that favored or opposed a presidential candidate have been in television markets of modest size: Cedar Rapids and Des Moines in Iowa (6 votes); Colorado Springs and Grand Junction in Colorado (9 votes).  No recent general election advertising strategy has covered so little ground so early.

The Nevada petri dish:

Nowhere is this more apparent than in southern Nevada, where a costly and contentious fight is playing out for six electoral votes. Already, ads about President Obama or Mitt Romney have been run nearly 6,000 times in and around Las Vegas since April 11. All this effort is to reach just 1.4 million registered voters, a sign of how tight this election is expected to be. Nevada offers a clear test case for the economic debates and changing demographics that will determine this election. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and one of every 300 homes here is in foreclosure — more than in any other state.

Hispanics, who voted heavily for Mr. Obama in 2008 and are being aggressively courted by both sides this year, are a sizable constituency. Labor unions, another Democratic ally, are especially powerful here. Mormons, an estimated 10 percent of Nevada’s electorate, are expected to turn out heavily for Mr. Romney.

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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.