At a glance
Electoral votes: 5 | Toss-up
D Reid R Ensign
Nevada State Assembly:
Nevada State Senate:
Presidential election history:
Oft-ignored Nevada is in the national spotlight this election, as it appears to be undergoing a political sea change. One of the fastest-growing states in the country, it now has 60,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, though the parties were virtually tied in the 2004 election. Add to that the swirl of scandal surrounding Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons – think adultery, public corruption and assault – and a certain party may be in trouble in Nevada this year. Current polls show Barack Obama and John McCain nearly tied. But Libertarian candidate Bob Barr garners 10 percent of the vote in some polls, and Ralph Nader another 5 percent. If those numbers hold, the third party candidates could well determine who wins the state. The state Legislature is also teetering. While Republicans have a slender majority in the Senate (11-10), the state party’s poor public image may help flip the balance. Meanwhile, the race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District -- which encompasses much of suburban Las Vegas -- is one of the hottest in the country. On one side is three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Jon Porter, R. On the other is state Senate minority leader Dina Titus, D, a nearly 20-year veteran of the state Legislature and a former candidate for governor.
The 3rd District was drawn to balance registered Democrats and Republicans following the 2000 census, making it battleground territory. But Democratic registration in the district — the third fastest-growing in the country — has made a significant leap recently as a result of the presidential campaign and the Nevada caucus. Registered Dems now outnumber Republicans by more than 20,000. (The last time Porter was re-elected, he won by 3,900 votes.) Yet as of June 30, Porter had raised $2.1 million, with casinos and the oil and gas industry among top contributors. Titus, on the other hand, had raised only $662,544, with Leadership PACS and retirees among top contributors.
The race has been called a bellwether for the Southwest because the district fits the profile both parties are targeting: fast-growing suburbs populated by independents. In a year when Democrats have the potential to dramatically increase their congressional majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed the district on its list of top 20 targeted races.
Whatever happens, it pays to pay attention to Nevada. With the exception of 1976, when it backed Gerald Ford, the state has voted for the presidential winner in every election since 1912.