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Is 2022 the Last Stand for Nevada Democrats?

Posted on Monday, July 11, 2022
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by Daniel Berman
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AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

Steve Sisolak (D), Governor of Nevada.

When former President Donald Trump touched down in Nevada on Friday to campaign for the state’s Republican U.S. Senate and gubernatorial nominees, he was wading into what could turn out to be one of the biggest political stories of 2022. On November 4th, Nevada—a state now run almost exclusively by Democrats—could wake up a decidedly red state. If so, it will be not only because of the issue Trump was there to highlight—the rising crime rates under Democrat leadership—but because of trends that have been a long time coming.

In politics, realignments come fast. When West Virginia cast its electoral votes for George W. Bush instead of Al Gore in 2000, in the process deciding the election (Florida would have been irrelevant if Gore had won West Virginia), it was a shock. West Virginia had two Democratic Senators, an all-Democratic congressional delegation until Shelly Moore Capito’s equally shocking win in 2000, and it was believed to be a stronghold of working-class, union Democrats. But in hindsight, the contest between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore in West Virginia looked like a preview of the future national divorce between the rural American working-class and the Democratic Party.

The midterm elections of 2022 may see a similar occurrence. November is by many estimations set to be a Red Wave, but waves do not just bring victory in swing states. They can also bring about long-overdue revolutions in states which no longer line up with a party. For all the focus on the Upper Midwest as an area which appears to be trending Republican, or on Democratic optimism about Georgia, the better candidates for revolution lie in the West—in particular, in Nevada. Democratic rule is nearly total in the Silver State, with the party controlling both Senate seats, three out of four House seats, every state-wide office aside from Secretary of State, and the state legislature. The Democratic candidate has carried the state in every presidential election since 2004.

Yet, just as in West Virginia, Democratic rule in Nevada appears to be increasingly built upon a foundation of sand. Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto face serious challenges, while Democrats may lose every congressional seat this fall. In short, 2022 may well be Nevada Democrats’ last stand.

Polls show the races for both Governor and Senate close, with Masto stuck in the low 40s against Adam Laxalt, the former Attorney General who lost a narrow race for Governor to Sisolak by 4% in 2018. This time around, Sisolak faces Joe Lombardo, the Sheriff of Clark County in an equally close race. Democratic confidence in both races appears to be based not on polling, which if anything shows Republicans ahead, or on qualitative considerations, which are perhaps worse for them in working-class and Latino-heavy Nevada than anywhere else in the country, but rather on a faith that Democrats “always” win in Nevada.

But even recent history quickly reveals holes in this logic. In 2014, Republicans swept every statewide office and both houses of the legislature. Democrat margins in both Presidential and Senate races are also often narrow, even in good years. Sisolak’s 49%-45% victory in the Democratic wave year of 2018 is a case in point, as was Jacky Rosen’s 5% win in that year’s Senate race. The myth of Democrats “always” winning Nevada appears to mostly owe its origins to Harry Reid’s come-from-behind victory in the 2010 Senate race. Yet Harry Reid is now dead, and there is evidence that his Democratic machine is on its way to the grave as well.

Nevada Democrats have long been dependent on the power and influence of Harry Reid’s Las Vegas political machine, which, in alliance with the major service unions, especially the culinary unions, utilized Nevada’s generous early and absentee voting system to build insurmountable leads through organizing. But this coalition depended heavily on service workers, whose industries were hit hardest by lockdowns, and more recently by inflation, even as Democrats were already bleeding votes from other working-class Latino and white voters.

Even before COVID, there were already signs of erosion. While Democrats won the state in every Presidential election since 2004, when compared to the country at large Nevada has drifted rightward:

Year Nevada Margin National Difference
2000 49.5%-46% Bush 48.4%-47.9% Gore 4% R
2004 50.5%-47.9% Bush 50.7%-48.3% Bush 0.2% R
2008 55.2%-42.7% Obama 52.9%-45.6% Obama 5.2% D
2012 52.4%-45.7% Obama 51%-47.2% Obama 2.9% D
2016 47.9%-45.5% Clinton 48%-45.9% Clinton 0.3% D
2020 50.1%-47.7% Biden 51.3%-46.8% 2.1% R

As is evident, Nevada trended toward Democrats rapidly during the 2000s. In 2000, Nevada voted 4% more Republican than the nation as a whole. By 2004, that advantage had been almost entirely erased, and Nevada voted almost identically to the country. In 2008, Democratic strength peaked, and Nevada voted for Obama by a 5% greater margin than the country as a whole. Yet already by 2012 this trend began to reverse, and nearly half of the Democratic advantage vanished. It had almost entirely disappeared by 2016, and in 2020 Nevada actually voted 2% to the right of the country at large.

What is striking is the consistency of the trend over the last decade. Nevada shifted 2.3% to the GOP between 2008 and 2012, 2.6% between 2012 and 2016, and then 2.4% between 2016 and 2020, Powering this trend has been the fact that Democrats have built their strength on trying to expand the turnout of their core electorate rather than expanding their appeal. The result is that while they have managed to hold-onto their raw vote margins in Las Vegas’s Clark County and Reno’s Washoe County, they have failed to make the gains which would be needed to counter their collapse in the rural areas. Unlike in other urban areas, where Democratic margins have increased dramatically, they have been static in Washoe, and actually declined in Clark.

Year Clark Margin Clark Raw Vote Diff Washoe Margin Washoe Raw Vote
2012 56.42%-41.82% Obama 100,873 50.79%-47.09% Obama 6,956
2016 52.43%-41.72% Clinton 80,170 46.39%-45.14% Clinton 2,621
2020 53.66%-44.31% 90,928 50.82%-46.31% Biden 11,368

In total, since 2012, the raw Democratic margin in Reno and Las Vegas has declined from around 107,000 in 2012 to 102,000 in 2020. This occurred as total turnout in Nevada as a whole increased by 380,000. In short, Democrats have not only failed to gain net votes in their strongholds, they have lost votes, all while being hit with the same erosion in rural areas and small towns as everywhere else in the country.

This is key context for 2022. Democrats in Nevada, despite their superficial strength, largely built on a history of narrow wins, were already in trouble even absent any sort of GOP wave. The trend-lines have not been moving in a positive direction since 2012, and unlike in the previous decade, they have been unable to harness Nevada’s rapid population growth to increase their margins. The 2018 elections, despite the Democratic sweep, were evidence of this. Adam Laxalt, supposedly a flawed candidate in the eyes of the media, lost by a mere 4% when nationally Democrats were winning the House vote by 8%. Contrast that to neighboring New Mexico, where Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham defeated former Congressman Steve Pearce for Governor by more than 15%.

Worse, it is not a neutral year. If Democrats face a shrinking margin of error in a year like 2018, what is it likely to be in 2022 when the national situation is so much worse, and the major demographic groups on which they rely are turning against them? A hint was provided by the primary, where more than 235,000 cast ballots in the Republican primary compared to only 135,000 in the Democratic one.

The hope among Democrats, beyond the belief that they “always win” in Nevada, is that somehow the flawed nature of GOP candidates will help them. They point to how Lombardo defeated former U.S. Senator Dean Heller in the primary for Governor, and claim that Adam Laxalt is too closely aligned with Donald Trump. But this ignores that Laxalt was a former statewide officeholder, and even in 2018 when he was cast as equally “flawed” and “extreme” he still only lost by 4%. With the current trends, do Democrats really think he can’t do 4% better?

Rather than confronting this threat, Nevada Democrats appear to be in denial. When they redrew congressional seats, they spread their support thin, leading Congresswoman Dina Titus to warn that in their effort to win three out of four seats, they risk ending with zero. Not only do Democrats seem confident this will not happen, but appear to believe that they do not need to take any action or produce any message other than reminding everyone they are Democrats in order to win.

Often when the winds are against a party, what makes the difference between an against-all-odds victory and a collapse is having some sort of message. Democrats in Kentucky have held on largely because they have tried to provide an independent reason to vote for their candidates. By contrast, if you merely assume people should vote for you because of your party, then the election will come down to whichever party the electorate sides with, which does not bode well for Democrats this year. The biggest problem for Masto and Sisolak is perhaps not even the wider trends, but that Sisolak seems unwilling to sell his record, and Masto seems to have no idea what she has done in the Senate or why she should have another term other than that she is a Democrat and liberal and Laxalt is a Republican and a conservative.

That may have worked in Nevada ten years ago. But evidence suggests it will not work this year. For that reason, Nevada may well be a red state come 2023.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.      

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PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Until all the votes are actually counted in Nevada, it would be wise to NOT assume a GOP victory in the state is assured. Don’t forget Biden and the Democrats in Congress shoveled billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to all the various unions in Neveda and elsewhere. What do you think made up almost all the money in the last Covid relief bill and the so-called Infrastructure bill. Over $3.1 trillion dollars in largely pork going almost exclusively to Democrat run states. Literally over-night, Democrat run states went from having huge budget deficits to huge budget surpluses with grand new spending initiatives all targeted to reward the Democrat voter base. All with one over-riding purpose: To buy votes in future elections like the upcoming midterms and again in 2024.

All I’m saying is don’t assume current dissatisfaction within the Democrat voter base, as shown in some polls, automatically translates into all these people deciding to vote Republican. Remember who makes up most of today’s modern Democrat voting base and what motivates them (the promise of “unlimited free stuff” and emotional pitches).

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

How about ALL Dems nationwide OK

Boz
Boz
1 year ago

Nope. They’ve got Dominion. and drop boxes. and Ruby’s suit cases.

Myrna Wade
Myrna Wade
1 year ago

We hope so. We have friends in Nevada who could hardly believe the outcome of the last election.

Rodney Ernst
Rodney Ernst
1 year ago

Since Roe has been overturned, THE GOP now has to be pro-family on all fronts. The Democrats are going to go all out on the abortion front. They have made it a God, same as the Jan. 6th fiasco. That’s all they are fixated on. They don’t care about the rest of the problems in our country,which is of their own making. But through the back door, they will flood the money to support their own. The red wave could be damaged through ignorance.

elysummers
elysummers
1 year ago

I’ll believe it when I see it. I lived for 30 years in Nevada. One thing you learn is that Clark County, where most of the population is, is DEMOCRAT to the bone.

D G
D G
1 year ago

Nevada is run by the Mafia.While one can always hope, I doubt that their political arm, the democratic party, will ever be rejected there.

mark
mark
1 year ago

What Rodney E just said hits the nail right on the head , again i will say if WE THE PEOPLE dont get off our butts and go vote , the DEMORATS will only gain ground and do a lot more damage to this country and its people than they already have in past,, its hard to out vote people that are getting what they think is free money if you know what i mean …

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

NO. they WILL CHEAT AGAIN. THER’S ONLY ONE SURE WAY TO STOP THE CANCEROUS, ANTI-AMERICAN, LYING, CHEATING libs AND IT’S NOT ELECTIONS………..THIS SHOULD’VE OCCURRED AFTER TRUMP LOST THE ELECTION DUE TO liberal CHEATING.

KDESQ
KDESQ
1 year ago

Come on, Demoncrats always win because of mail in ballots, on other words cheating, unionized cheating, and when did the voting machines come in, 2008?

PFArizona
PFArizona
1 year ago

I hope so. But why does the Jewish community in Nevada not recognize the anti-semitism coming from members of the Democrat party? They now have assumptions that Blake Masters is an anti-Semite when they have actual Anti Semites in Congress according to comments recently made by them. I sure wish they would get their facts right based on current comments. Democrats are not their friend.

Gabe Hanzeli
Gabe Hanzeli
1 year ago

I hope that the democrats lose big time in Nevada and throughout the country. In fact I hope they lose so badly that the republicans can easily pass required automatic election audit requirements for all states, vote id requirements for all states, outlaw ballot boxes, outlaw late ballots, outlaw votes more than five days before elections, and make all vote tampering a felony crime.

Further I hope they impeach and imprison most of the current democrat leadership, soros, and gates. then I hope they cut the size of the federal government by 50%. the only way to drain the swamp is to shrink it first. Then the swamp monsters are easier to see.

Finally I want them to pass a law making all elected people required to have asset audits twice a year. Obama went from $2,000,000 to $90,000,000 while he was president. that is corruption.

NinaRae
NinaRae
1 year ago

I live in Nevada. I vote Republican. I can tell you, through personal experience, that I’ve never talked to anyone who voted for Sisolak. People were shocked when he won the election. Sisolak is a California transplant. He came to Vegas & got on the City Council, next thing you know he’s running for Governor. People, even in Las Vegas, were asking, ‘Who’s Steve Sisolak?’ So how did he get elected? A Big problem, so far, has been that the large population areas (Carson City & Las Vegas) control the voting results. There are some serious voting issues in Nevada that need to be corrected. Mail-in Ballots is a huge disaster, and this year EVERYONE who’s registered got one. Vegas has a huge problem with people moving around from one area to another. Their ballots get sent to the ‘last known address’. During the last Presidential election the number of ballots laying in front of apartment mailboxes or in the gutters in the street was astounding. You could pick up ballots by the hundreds off the streets. Being concerned about the computerized voting, We took our ballots to the County Clerk’s office rather than mail it. The Clerk who accepted it did not ask for ID. She had an armful of mail & papers & laid our ballots on the top as she rushed off, not very encouraging! I’m hoping & praying that this Election is more closely monitored, especially in the large population areas of Nevada.

Amacer
Amacer
1 year ago

These statistics don’t matter unless you have the statistics of how Democrats have ramped up their election cheating. The Democrat Party as it is should be expunged.

FJB
FJB
1 year ago

This article has nice ideas, but the problem is that Reid’s cheating organization is still very much intact. If there were fair elections in Nevada, Republicans would win, but the elections are rigged by demoncRATS.

Steve duncan
Steve duncan
1 year ago

Nevada, like most states realize now that Biden is serious about keeping borders open forever, that fossil fuels must have a permanent end in America. Our demented president Biden wants America last in economic stability, thus it is all about the economy – groceries and fuel for our modes or transportation.

Carla Jones
Carla Jones
1 year ago

Republicans arent going to win anything in Nevada if they dont get a grip on the Demokkkrat voter fraud that takes place every election. What have they done to secure elections in Nevada since the 2020 steal? Most likely nothing.

Andrew P
Andrew P
1 year ago

Even if the Democrats get blown out in Nevada, they could be making big gains elsewhere – particularly with white affluent suburbanites. Realignments are always like this – you gain in some places and lose in others.

Larkenson
Larkenson
1 year ago

Today worrying yourself sick about liberals and conservatives is just as stupid as worrying yourself sick over the Whig Party in 1853.
Politics will be an entirely different thing as Whites come to REALIZE that they are a threatened minority. That is what is happening now.
Diversity is a code word for White Genocide.

Edward Lombard
Edward Lombard
1 year ago

The republic is lost. Stick a fork in it and move on to self-preservation mode. There is no fairness or equity in American elections any more than there is fairness and equity in Russian elections now. It’s all for show and the appearance of legality. It’s not real and the American taxpayer no longer has a voice in ANYTHING. We just pay taxes to make politicians filthy rich so they can do as they damn well please.

Rene
Rene
1 year ago

Twice my wife & I were forced to cancel our Vegas Reservations when Democrat Governor Sisokak changed the Nevada Mask Policy.

No one wants to sit at a slot machine wearing masks. The only non-service illness I’ve ever had was caused after taking our second MADERNA Vaccine. Illnesses include non-stop flu symptoms caused by the the Covid Vaccines.

DEMOCRATS-RINOS, at our age, we don’t need Big Brother telling what we MUST DO to satisfy your paranoia. Seek Mental Heath care ASAP.

Becky
Becky
1 year ago

Anyone who would vote for a demonRat now deserves extermination. Nevada was taken over by the California filth running from their insane voting. Now they are contaminating Idaho and Montana.
DemonRat communists need deported… Not voted for.

Judy K.
Judy K.
1 year ago

Until our current political system undergoes a facelift and who can raise the most MONEY, and those of AFFLUENCE are not the main reason candidates are elected, for either Party, our votes for who we believe the best candidate is, is overshadowed by what I mentioned above. We do not have legitimate elections. If we did, none of the questions regarding election integrity would be asked! This country needs GOD!! And we need to focus on that right now!!

chuck
chuck
1 year ago

I’m 82 years of age and was a Democrat for 52years. The problem is there are some good democrats in the party who lack the backbone to challenge the corruption of the leadership. Only two have come forward to oppose Joe Biden’s click. Manchin and Sinema are opposed to the democratic platform being put forward as being harmful to their constituents. Trump has opened a pandora’s box with his challenge of a stolen election. Democrat leadership used the Jan 6 (riot) to take away the idea of Fraud in the 2020 election. Believe me, at 82 there has been fraud and election tampering just not enough to throw an election. Since the 2000 election and the use of voting machines ballot harvesting mail-in ballots last-minute changes in election laws a move for election integrity is now a necessity. If the Democrats insist the 2020 election was so secure ask yourself one question, Why are the states of Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and others finding irregularities and discrepancies and are changing the way you vote in these states??? One thing we need is TERM LIMITS to prevent the corruption of elected officials, less time in office the less time to be corrupted. Trump’s big lie may have some truth to it.

Henker
Henker
1 year ago

May God almighty smite the Democrat’s and their vile Communist New World Order.

Jon
Jon
1 year ago

Nevada won’t wake up Republican until Nov. 9, as Election Day isn’t until Nov. 8.

LarryFrom10EC
LarryFrom10EC
1 year ago

Just for the record, if Al Gore had won his “home” state of Tennessee, he would not have needed Florida. Sadly, for him, we knew what a self- serving, lying weasel he really was.

Henker
Henker
1 year ago

Ai por Diós! Latinos will never be the Democrats new ni@@ers. Who do you think you’re messing with?

Anthony
Anthony
1 year ago

Some predict that not only will Nevada become a red State but that President Trump maybe back in the White House before the midterms. Democrats bring nothing to the table. They take away the desire to explore and move forward.

Bruce
Bruce
1 year ago

Sorry folks, but don’t count on curuptcrat run Michigan to swing this time. The fix is in with the passage of a “ fair” voting initiative that mustered enough signatures by paid collectors to insure all the same last minute shenanigans as last time.

J C
J C
1 year ago

If anyone reading this can find a way to convince America that one candidate draws 300 supporters and the other draws 36,000 and loses is amazing election results. Now we know this happened,, we now know how it happened and now who was behind it..The big question to me is how did they get away with it and how do we stop them in November?My grandpa always said “if you catch a man with egg on his face you will find feathers in his pockets. Alright let’s say this is November 9 and they cheated now what do we do?Jump yell cry what how do we get an honest election? The media will convince some people my dog was a write in candidate and won and will do a better job than dummy Joe.Let’s get ready now. Any regulations we must follow get the paperwork done.iWe can’t afford loop holes. Bothers me the commies are awful calm about Nov. Any ideas? Please brainstorm . God bless AmericaJc

johnh
johnh
1 year ago

Saw an interesting story on Latin based people leaning towards Republican. Many of the people from South America have seen/lived thru Socialism & that is why they left that country. Yet, Democrats like Bernie Sanders are promoting Socialism in this great country call USA. Having said that, letting people coming across the Southern Border are probably not going to vote for Socialism candidates.

gerald serlin
gerald serlin
1 year ago

The author of this article mistakenly identifies the Democrat Party as the Democratic Party. In fact, the Democrat Party is not democratic (majority rules) at all. Just ask Senator Sanders who decidedly defeated Hillary Clinton, yet did not win the Democrat nomination. The same with the next Presidential election, when Sanders defeated Joe Biden, yet failed to be awarded the nomination. Wake up and call the Democrat Party by its real name and not the Democratic Party, which does not exist under that name. This is a pet peeve of mine.

tika
tika
1 year ago

i’m sure they will dangle the security of every military member’s retirement in front of them before any votes are cast.

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