Election Coverage / Government Watch / Politics

Is 2022 the Last Stand for Nevada Democrats?

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:

YearNevada MarginNationalDifference
200049.5%-46% Bush48.4%-47.9% Gore4% R
200450.5%-47.9% Bush50.7%-48.3% Bush0.2% R
200855.2%-42.7% Obama52.9%-45.6% Obama5.2% D
201252.4%-45.7% Obama51%-47.2% Obama2.9% D
201647.9%-45.5% Clinton48%-45.9% Clinton0.3% D
202050.1%-47.7% Biden51.3%-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.

YearClark MarginClark Raw Vote DiffWashoe MarginWashoe Raw Vote
201256.42%-41.82% Obama100,87350.79%-47.09% Obama6,956
201652.43%-41.72% Clinton80,17046.39%-45.14% Clinton2,621
202053.66%-44.31%90,92850.82%-46.31% Biden11,368

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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tika
2 months ago

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

gerald serlin
2 months 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
2 months ago
Reply to  gerald serlin

so true!

johnh
2 months 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.

J C
2 months 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

Bruce
2 months 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.

Anthony
2 months 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.

Henker
2 months ago

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

LarryFrom10EC
2 months 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.

robertthomason
2 months ago
Reply to  LarryFrom10EC

Tell it!

johnh
2 months ago
Reply to  LarryFrom10EC

And for the record, did Trump win home state of New York?

Jon
2 months ago

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

Centurion
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

NV will wake up Red if we can get around the demon-communist-cRAT voter fraud machine. We need Republicans to watch the vote counters. Put two Republicans on the shoulders of each counter.

“It does not matter how you vote. What matters is who counts the vote.” …Josep Stalin

Henker
2 months ago

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

chuck
2 months 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.

edward
2 months ago
Reply to  chuck

“Trump’s big liemay have some truth to it.”
that’s because it is not a lie!!!!!!!!

robertthomason
2 months ago
Reply to  chuck

The Democrats need a man like Harry Truman again.

Judy K.
2 months 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!!

Centurion
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy K.

I’ve always believed he who has the most money wins.

Becky
2 months 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.

Ted Shepherd
2 months ago
Reply to  Becky

Please, no call for death to our political opponents, no calling them rats as if exterminating them would be morally acceptable. Please, defeating them in elections and rendering them powerless would be plenty. As you may have guessed, some people I love dearly are Democrats.

Mario Capparuccini
2 months ago
Reply to  Ted Shepherd

You are right. I pray for the repentance of our Democratic leaders, not their harm. But, if they do not avail themselves of God’s mercy, I have no problem asking Him to remove them from power. I too have friends and colleagues who are liberal.

Rene
2 months 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.

Edward Lombard
2 months 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.

Larkenson
2 months 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.

Ted Shepherd
2 months ago
Reply to  Larkenson

Here is a important, confirming, and sad piece of information. In my boyhood, the US was 90% white. Now, it is about 65% white. Who decided in 1950 that Americans could not bequeath their country to their own descendants? (Hint: it is those who have depended on the votes of nonwhite immigrants. That dependence is starting to fail as more and more nonwhites move off the plantation.)

Andrew P
2 months 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.

Mark Joseph
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew P

Oh really? Please tell us where the Dems are picking up seats?

johnh
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew P

As long as Democrats back Biden agenda as it is today, they are going to lose lots of seats. Biden is dipping into Strategic Oil Reserve, but refuses to back off his War on Fossil fuels & the Democrats are not pushing him on this.

Carla Jones
2 months 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.

PaulE
2 months ago
Reply to  Carla Jones

Bingo! Most Democrat run states were perfectly happy with how the 2020 election went with very lax voting rules and little to no actual voter verification. Ballot harvesting was big business in the Democrat run states. So they did nothing. They won after all. Which is ALL they care about.

Steve duncan
2 months 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.

FJB
2 months 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.

Philip Hammersley
2 months ago
Reply to  FJB

Exactly! Reid had “parties” for casino workers in direct violation of the law. And he was an admitted liar when he sank Mittens in 2012. He’s found out now what happens to liars and baby killers!

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