Guy W. Farmer: The importance of the N. Nevada vote

Here's a surprising snippet of political news: A Las Vegas political reporter actually recognized the importance of the Northern Nevada electorate in this fall's presidential election.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Laura Myers surprised me by writing that "Washoe is the battleground county in the battleground state of Nevada." I'll forgive her for omitting Carson City and the rest of Northern Nevada in her astute political analysis. After all, she lives in an insular world that rarely pays any attention to the rest of our state. I sometimes wonder how many Clark County schoolchildren could locate the state capital on a map.

"It's Washoe County where the political wrestling is happening, a swing county in a swing state," Ms. Myers wrote. "In 2012 (presumptive Republican candidate) Mitt Romney must beat President Obama in Washoe to have a shot at winning Nevada and the White House."

"If a Republican is going to win the state," added state GOP Vice Chairman James Smack, "he has to win the 16 counties that are not named Clark."

While Democrats hold a sizeable voter registration advantage in Clark County, Republicans have a slight edge in the rest of the state, and voter turnout is always higher in Northern Nevada. Carson City usually leads the state in voter turnout, so I guess we'll continue to be bombarded by those horrible attack ads for the next three months.

You know what I'm talking about:

"President Obama is an anti-American Muslim who was born in Kenya." "Mitt Romney is a vulture capitalist who wants to push your grandma off a cliff," etc., etc., ad nauseum. It gets pretty tiresome after a while. What this kind of advertising tells me is that political consultants think we're a bunch of blithering idiots out here in Flyover Country. Well, those obnoxious ads make Nevada TV station owners happy, and very rich. Ms. Myers wrote that Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Las Vegas Democrat, has spent $500,000 to introduce herself to Northern Nevada voters while all candidates have already aired more than $4 million worth of ads in the Reno TV market.

Ms. Berkley and her opponent, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, are parroting the negative ads of President Obama and Gov. Romney. Heller's ads identify Berkley as "one of the most corrupt members of Congress," while Berkley counters that Heller wants "to end Medicare as we know it." As usual, the truth is probably somewhere between these two extremes. Unfortunately, we have to put up with this crap until November.

You may ask, why do politicians engage in so much negative advertising? Because it works, they reply. We won't get any relief from the current barrage of attack ads until and unless Congress repeals the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision, which equates political advertising with free speech.

Clark County accounted for about two-thirds of the total vote in the 2008 presidential election, in which Obama defeated Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by 9 percentage points (55-46) in the Silver State. The race will be much closer this time around. Stay tuned.

• Guy W. Farmer is the Nevada Appeal's senior political columnist.


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