Opinion: In Nevada, the numbers game tilts Democratic


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Nevada’s vote in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections was relatively stable -- good news for Republicans.

Its party registration figures, though, have been undergoing a transformation, which this November might translate into glad tidings for Democrats. Emphasis on ‘might.’


Eight years ago, George W. Bush carried the Sagebrush State against Al Gore by 21,597 votes out of about 609,000 cast (giving him a winning margin of roughly 3.5 percentage points).

Four years ago, Bush won Nevada over John Kerry by 21,500 votes; with almost 830,000 cast, the president’s margin was reduced a bit, to about 2.6 percentage points.

Democrats could at least take solace in the trendline. But they are finding much greater joy in a new set of numbers -- the voter registration breakdown, as of June, from the Nevada secretary of state’s office.

On its list of ‘active’ voters, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 55,560 -- an edge of about 5% among this entire pool of registrants, which numbers a bit more than 1 million.

Especially encouraging for Democrats, as state Democratic Party official Kirsten Searer pointed out to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is that at this point in 2004, the GOP had a 1% advantage in voter registration.

We’ve got to give credit to Zac Moyle, executive director of the Nevada Republican Party; he didn’t try to sugarcoat the matter, saying, ‘We’re disappointed by the numbers.’


Most distressing must be ...

... the change so far this year. Since January, the GOP voter figure in Nevada has actually gone down, by more than 5,000, while the number of Democrats has increased by close to 40,000.

As heartening as all this may be to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign -- which included Nevada as one of the 18 states where his opening general election ads have aired -- few analysts will yet make him the favorite to capture it.

Two polls in June showed the race for Nevada’s five electoral votes very close, but with John McCain holding a slight lead. The Republican White House contender benefits from residing in a neighboring state. And, as underscored by a McCain radio ad unveiled late last week on Spanish-speaking stations in Nevada and New Mexico, he will aggressively court the Latino vote in the Southwest.

Here’s the English translation of that new spot:

‘My name is Frank Gamboa, a proud Latino who wants the best for America and for our community. My roommate at the U.S. Naval Academy is running for president of the United States and he wants what is best for the Hispanic community too. His name is John McCain and he has stood for our community even in the most difficult of times. This is because he shares our same conservative values and faith in God. He knows that family is the focal part of our lives and that we value hard work. Being from Arizona, John knows this. He has earned the trust of Latinos and has a history of supporting us. This election, it seems to me that the other candidate has just discovered the importance of the Hispanic vote. So when it comes to our values and understanding Latinos this election, I know for John it’s not political; it comes from the heart. That’s why I am voting for John McCain.’

-- Don Frederick