Chuck Muth: The GOP’s unfinished business in Nevada
At a recent neighborhood volunteer recruitment meeting, attendees were informed by a Republican Party operative that there are 200,000 self-identified Christians in Nevada who are unregistered voters.If true, then someone apparently knows who these folks are. And it stands to reason that most of those folks would register Republican if they did register. So, um, why aren’t Republicans going after this low-hanging fruit to quickly close the registration gap with Democrats?Look, I’m all for outreach programs to Hispanics, blacks, gays and all the other groups who traditionally lean toward the D’s, but with only two months to go before Election Day, wouldn’t you get your biggest bang for the buck by focusing on registering people who already lean toward you?The same GOP operative told the group that campaign projections show the presidential election in Nevada could be decided by less than 800 votes. And that figure is plausible. Remember, John Ensign lost his statewide race here for U.S. Senate against Harry Reid in 1998 by only 428 votes.The Libertarian candidate in that race pulled in more than 8,000 votes. Which reminds me…In case you haven’t heard, there is an extremely credible Libertarian candidate for president who will be on the ballot in November. His name is Gary Johnson, and he’s a former governor of New Mexico who chalked up a very impressive record for fiscal conservatism while in office.A recent Zogby poll shows Johnson pulling 4 percent of the vote nationwide — which means he’s probably polling at an even higher number here in Nevada where significant pockets of the live-and-let-live libertarian philosophy — the philosophy espoused by former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul — still exists.Knowing how strong Paul’s support is here in Nevada, I asked the volunteer recruiter what the Republican Party was doing to reach out to those Paul’s supporters to keep them from drifting into Johnson’s camp on Election Day. The answer was less than encouraging.The operative replied that the GOP had played a tribute video to Rep. Paul at the Republican convention in Tampa and let his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speak.Really? That’s it? I’m pretty sure I’m not going too far out on a limb to suggest that ain’t enough.Mitt Romney firmed up his conservative base with the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate. But many of the Paul supporters still are out there undecided between Romney and Johnson.If Nevada truly is as close as everyone says it is, it seems to me it’s long past time for Republicans to finish firming up their base of support among unregistered Christians and undecided Ron Paulers. Before it’s too late.• Chuck Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.com.