David C. Henley: Who’s going to win? That is the question
There are only six days to go before the elections, and Nevada is receiving increased national attention as a state the Republicans are striving to “flip” in favor of incumbent President Donald Trump.
On a recent whirlwind tour of several western states, Trump campaigned in Carson City, his second visit to Northern Nevada in one month. He’s also appeared at rallies in Reno and Las Vegas, and Donald Trump Jr., one of his sons, campaigned for his father in Fallon when he attended a fundraising barbecue at a Ranchers for Trump Live Cattle Auction held at the Nevada Livestock Yard.
Speaking before large audiences at the Minden-Tahoe and Carson City airports, Trump lashed out at Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, for supporting coronavirus-related crowd restrictions in the state which, according to Trump, have resulted in the crippling of Nevada tourism and gaming profits. But Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presidential nominee, is endeavoring to have the last word, criticizing Trump for his “lackluster response” to COVID-19 that he (Biden) said “has resulted in 88,000 Nevadans becoming infected with the virus.” Biden added that 200,000 Nevadans are out of work because of Trump’s failure to take the pandemic seriously.
Nevada has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, when incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democrat John Kerry, and Trump is attempting to avenge the Democrats’ three consecutive victories in Nevada in which Hillary Clinton defeated him in 2016 and Barack Obama beat Republican George Romney in 2012 and Republican John McCain in 2008.
The latest poll results for Nevada in the Trump-Biden contest are mixed, to say the least. One poll, sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Nevada AARP, indicates that the two men are virtually neck-and-neck, with Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen receiving 3 percent of the vote and Independent American Party candidate Donald Blankenship receiving 1 percent. Six percent were undecided or refused to answer, and 4 percent said they would check the “None of These Candidates” box. The findings in other Nevada polls wander all over the landscape. One poll, for example, shows Trump leading Biden by 1 percent. Another shows Biden in the lead by 11 percent. In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in Nevada by 539,260 to 512,058 votes. In Churchill County that year, Trump beat out Clinton by a lopsided 7,830 to 2,210 votes.
Despite the closeness of most of the polls, Trump and his campaign have made several missteps that the Democrats say will hurt Trump’s chances to come out of top in Nevada and win the state’s coveted six votes in the Electoral College.
Just last week, Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, Trump’s attorney and Trump’s prime confidante, gleefully mocked Asians by using a stereotypical Chinese accent and affecting a dramatic bow from the waist which were carried live during a television interview.
Democrat Ted Lieu, a California congressman and chairman of the 17-member U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Asian-American-Pacific Islander caucus, messaged Trump, “Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing group in America. Our voters make up 11 percent of the electorate in Nevada, so keep doubling down on your racism. See you in November.” In addition to Giuliani’s mimicry and ridicule of Asian-Americans, Trump himself has reaped disbelief and public outrage for his caustic remarks about John McCain, the late Republican senator from Arizona, unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate in 2008, and Navy captain who spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison where he endured torture after his fighter jet was shot down by Vietnamese gunfire during the Vietnam War. Trump stated that McCain “was not a war hero because he was captured by the North Vietnamese. I like people who were not captured.”
Following McCain’s death from brain cancer in late August 2018, his widow, Cindy, explicitly requested that Trump be barred from her husband’s memorial, funeral and burial ceremonies. I am sure that many of Nevada’s military veterans, active duty military personnel and Reserve and National Guard members and their families have not voted for Trump via mail or early voting, and will not vote for him next Tuesday, because of his comments about McCain. And I am confidant that Congressman Ted Lieu, a decorated colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, has been spreading the message about Trump’s remarks about McCain.
As far as the upcoming election is concerned, the polls were inaccurate in the 2016 elections, and they could be equally misleading this year. In short, I believe it is impossible to predict who will win the presidency in Nevada and across the nation in 2020.
David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.