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December 22, 2014

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UPDATE: Nevada daily political update: Hispanic vote, mortgage mess

(Updated at 3:24 p.m.)

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg offers his Top 5 list of states that will pick the next president in today's Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call (subscription required). Guess who's on the list?

It's no secret by now that Nevada is a battleground state. But, as Rothenberg notes, with the changing electoral map, if Obama wins here he'll likely win other red states.

Also on the list are Colorado, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.

From the article:

"Nevada has proved to be one of the more competitive states over the past few White House contests, so it automatically becomes a bellwether of the 2008 presidential election. Yes, there are plenty of conservatives and Republicans in the state, but Nevada also has its share of Hispanics, labor union members and moderate Democrats.

"Bush won Nevada in 2004 with 50.5 percent and in 2000 with 49.5 percent. Bill Clinton carried it twice, albeit narrowly. If Obama wins Nevada, he's likely winning other red states, and he's likely to be the next president of the United States."

______________________

(Originally published at 2:02 p.m.)

The Hispanic vote

Nevada surfaced again in the national news today regarding the presidential election.

The New York Times takes a look at the candidates' differences -- in tone and on the issues -- as the campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain target the Hispanic vote in a number of states, including Nevada.

Both candidates are underscoring the importance of Latinos. According to the Times:

“The Latino community holds the election in its hands,” Mr. Obama announced Sunday in San Diego at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza. Mr. McCain, meanwhile, imagined a situation in which election returns from the East were tight and everything came down to swing states like this one, where three of every eight voters are of Hispanic descent."

Nevada is 24 percent Hispanic.

The mortgage mess

Also in the news -- and of importance to Nevadans -- is the mortgage mess.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Bush administration's plan to shore up struggling mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is creating a conservative backlash on Capitol Hill.

Republicans running for re-election in conservative districts are challenging the administration on a plan unpopular with their constituents. This sets up an interesting tension with McCain, who supports the administration's efforts.

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But, as the Washington Post notes, both presidential candidates' statements on the mortgage mess have been terse before going "nearly silent." According to the Post: "Their responses made sense in political and economic terms. The risks of intervening in the firms' rescue are high, the rewards are scant, and the tentacles of the government-sponsored enterprises reach into both campaigns."

Electoral map in flux

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato and his crystal ball weigh in on the changing electoral map, with special attention paid to Nevada.

In the 29 states where voter affiliation is kept by party, the number of registered Democrats has grown by nearly 700,000 since President Bush was re-elected in November 2004, while the total of registered Republicans has declined by almost 1 million. There are a variety of reasons why the Democrats are gaining new voters, the report notes, starting with demographic change:

"In fast-growing Nevada, for instance, a 4,400-vote registration advantage for the Republicans in November 2004 has been transformed into an imposing registration edge of more than 55,000 for the Democrats. That represents nearly three times Bush's margin of victory in Nevada four years ago."

Still, the report says Nevada is far from a lock for Democrats: "The saving grace for Republicans is that this does not appear to be a 'base' election like the two won by George W. Bush. In 2000 and particularly 2004, both parties emphasized registering and turning out their own voters. This time, independents will be extremely important -- a group that comprises roughly a quarter of the voters in party registration states. McCain's longtime appeal to independents gives him an opportunity to offset losses caused by a shrinking GOP base."

California, meanwhile, is all but a lock for Obama, according to a new Field Research Corp. poll.

Gibbons' companion cited

The Reno Gazette-Journal's Anjeanette Damon has the latest from Carson City, er, Reno. Police have cited Leslie Sferrazza Durant, a recent companion of Gov. Jim Gibbons, for careless driving and hit-and-run after a July 4 celebration.

As Damon reports, "She is accused of plowing through three of her neighbors' yards, destroying a utility box and crashing into a parked truck about 1 a.m. July 5."

Since filing for divorce from first lady Dawn Gibbons, the governor has been seen with Durant at the movies, restaurants and the Reno Rodeo.

The money race

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has a snapshot of the money race in Nevada's 2nd Congressional District. Republican incumbent Dean Heller, the paper reports, has nearly a 3-to-1 advantage over Democratic challenger Jill Derby -- not including $366,932 in debt.

Nevertheless, Derby had a big quarter, taking in $295,512 -- 30 percent more than Heller. Derby, a former university regent and chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, proved her chops as a solid candidate in her first run against Heller in 2006, but, unlike state Sen. Dina Titus in the state's 3rd District, still hasn't made the national Democrats' "red-to-blue" program.

While Democrats have cut the Republican registration advantage in the district by 20,000 voters, Derby still faces a significant hurdle.

Still, this race is one to watch.

Sheldon Adelson vs. Shelley Berkley

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has a round-up of media nuggets on Las Vegas casino mogul and Republican savior Sheldon Adelson. Among the gems:

"Adelson and (Nevada) Rep. Shelley Berkley are engaged in a long-running feud. When Adelson fired Berkley, who in the late 1990s was vice president of government and legal affairs of Sands, he penned a letter to the Las Vegas Review Journal accusing Berkley of attacking him 'in order to draw attention away from her own ethical lapses.' Berkley, who ran for and won a seat in Congress in 1998, responded with a letter of her own alleging that 'Mr. Adelson seeks to dominate politics and public policy through the raw power of money.' Only in Vegas."

'Brown Sugar' jam

Rock and roll news courtesy of my Washington colleague Lisa Mascaro: While playing with his band, Nevada Rep. Jon Porter ceded the stage to the Rolling Stones' keyboardist at a Capitol Hill party to celebrate the recent passage of a $290 billion farm bill.

Chuck Leavell, who's played with the Stones for 25 years, jammed with the Second Amendments on "Brown Sugar" and a Little Richard medley before Porter resumed his spot.

Of course, this will provide fodder for Porter's challenger, state Sen. Dina Titus, as she campaigns throughout Nevada's 3rd District. She commonly derides Porter for playing in his band, saying in her stump speech that "Nevadans are tired of hearing the same old song."

The Early Line says "Brown Sugar" never gets old.

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