With 39,220 more Republicans voting than Democrats in Nevada’s 2022 general election, the GOP was positioned to sweep statewide races.
Instead, in the seven statewide contests , Republicans won governor, lieutenant governor and controller, but lost races for U.S. Senate, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer.
The problem for Republicans: they nominated far-right candidates who said stupid things, thereby repelling “swing” independent voters.
A GOP analyst, Phil Becker of the Nevada Wins PAC, studied official voting results and concluded the GOP could be dominating statewide politics if it only had more candidates who appealed to independent voters.
Highlights from Becker’s analysis:
Democrats had a registered voter advantage last November of 49,420. However, Republicans cast the largest portion of the vote (38.2%), Democrats (34.5%) and “other” voters (27.2%). GOP turnout was near the maximum possible in a non-presidential year, at 72.9% – Democratic turnout was much lower at 60.9%.
This means while high Republican turnout is important, it can’t overcome the effect of all the voters who don’t align with either party if those “other” voters dislike the GOP candidate, Becker argues.
Republican Joe Lombardo got 8.7% more votes cast by “others” – neither Republicans nor Democrats – against Democratic incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak. This was enough to give Lombardo a 15,386-vote victory.
Winning Republicans Stavros Anthony for lieutenant governor and Andy Mathews for controller got 0.3% and 2.2% more of the “other” votes respectively.
Four Democratic statewide candidates far out-performed their Republican opponents with “other” voters.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto got 17.6% more of the “other” vote. That provided her slim victory margin of 7,928 votes over Adam Laxalt.
Laxalt prominently claimed without evidence that Donald Trump won Nevada in the 2020 presidential election. That stand cost him the U.S. Senate election.
More than 12,000 people voted “none of the above” and an additional 47,000 cast a ballot leaving the Senate race blank.
Democrat Cisco Aguilar got 24.4% more of the “other” vote, defeating far-right Republican Jim Marchant for secretary of state. Marchant was an outspoken election “denier” who also made a wild, unsubstantiated claim that all Nevada elected officials since 2006 have been “installed by the deep-state cabal.”
Democrat Zach Conine, re-elected state treasurer, got 23% more of the “other” vote, beating hard-right firebrand Michele Fiore. Fiore sought the state’s top finance job despite more than $1 million in tax liens from the IRS for unpaid taxes and having the FBI seize documents from her home as part of a campaign-related investigation.
In the attorney general’s race, ultra-MAGA Republican lawyer Sigal Chattah performed the worst among “other” voters, with 43.5% more supporting incumbent Democrat Aaron Ford. She lost to Ford badly — by 77,179 votes.
A text message surfaced during the campaign from Chattah saying Ford, who is Black, “should be hanging from a f—king crane.” Prominent Nevada Republicans created a group called Republicans for Ford.
In a July 8 Las Vegas interview, former President Donald Trump described Nevada as a “disgraceful” state.
During the interview, Trump falsely claimed to have won Nevada in both 2016 and 2020 “by a lot” and having been “robbed.”
In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump in Nevada by 2.4% (27,202 votes). In 2020, President Biden defeated Trump again by 2.4% (33,596 votes).
Trump went on to slam Laxalt, his former Nevada campaign co-chair now supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid, as “very weak,” “pathetic” and “a stiff.”
Trump’s likely nomination will be an obvious drag for Republicans in Nevada. The false claims of stolen elections and the events of Jan. 6 will repel independent voters.
The Nevada Republican Party is dominated by the extreme right. In January, the state party elected Chattah as Nevada’s Republican National committeewoman. She routinely attacks other Republicans and files meritless lawsuits.
There’s little evidence enough Nevada Republicans learned from the disappointing 2022 election result.
E-mail Jim Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org.