Jim Hartman: Sprint to the election finish line

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman

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Nevada political candidates are in the final sprint to the Nov. 8 finish line.

Results from the first week of early voting beginning Oct. 22 portend a lower turnout than experts forecast. Over 77% of Nevada’s active voters cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election. Predictions now for 2022 are close to the 62% turnout in 2018.

The first seven days of early voting showed Republicans with an in-person voter advantage and Democrats with mail-in vote dominance. Neither party had a clear turnout edge.

On Nov. 1, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the Republican nominee for governor, had a slim polling lead over Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

The RCP polling average had Lombardo leading Sisolak by 1.7% ( 46.7-45%).

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, is in an even tighter race with Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, according to the RCP polling average. Laxalt had a 0.6% lead over Cortez Masto (46.6-46%).

Results in the polls were within the margin of error.

At the national level the election tide is moving against Democrats and may cost them both the House and Senate. Issues of crime, immigration, energy and the economy work against them.

Democrats are expected to pay the price for their sharp left turn in Washington.

A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds Republicans are resurgent.

On a generic ballot, those surveyed now support a Republican congressional candidate over a Democratic one by 49%-45%, a turnaround since a USA TODAY poll taken in July, when Democrats led 44%-40%.

Voters overwhelmingly view the election as a way to send a message to President Biden to change course.

While other polling surveys confirm a national Republican surge, in Nevada there’s no evidence of a “red wave” from the early voting data.

Much will depend on Clark County where 72% of Nevada’s registered voters reside. Nevada’s population is now 30% Hispanic and 9% Asian. Republican chances to win statewide races will depend on making inroads in minority communities.

In 2018, Republicans won only 25% of the Hispanic vote. This year recent national surveys of likely voters place the Republican share of Hispanic voters between 34% and 38%.

The deciding issue for many Nevada voters will be inflation and the economy. The price of gas puts Nevada near the top nationally, at an average of $5 per gallon (on Oct. 31) according to AAA. That’s 27% higher than a year earlier.

A Congressional Joint Economic Committee report finds Nevada as one of only four states where prices, including for food and housing, have risen more than 15% since January 2021.

In the Senate race, Laxalt links Cortez Masto to the deeply unpopular Biden among Nevada voters.

Crime and education are central in the governor’s race. After members overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” in Sisolak, the Nevada Police Union endorsed Lombardo. The union normally supports Democrats.

And Nevada’s largest teachers union, the 18,000-member Clark County Education Association, spurned endorsing Sisolak’s re-election after giving him strong support in 2018.

Sisolak and Cortez Masto are making abortion an issue. Lombardo and Laxalt disavow any interest in imposing new restrictions. In 1990, Nevada voters passed a referendum safeguarding the state’s law legalizing abortion through 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Laxalt and Lombardo differed in their approach to former President Trump. Laxalt called the 2020 election “rigged” while Lombardo accepted the election outcome.

Nevada voters are closely divided with Democrats having a 32.7% to 29.9% registered voter edge over Republicans.

Both parties are outnumbered by the 37.4% of voters unaffiliated with either party, creating a battle for independents.

The Democrats’ “firewall” in Clark County will need to withstand large GOP margins in Nevada’s 15 rural counties.

Winning the partisan turn out war will determine the Senate and governor races this year.

E-mail Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.


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