Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008 | 3:46 p.m.
Sen. Barack Obama is set to make a speech Wednesday at Las Vegas' Cashman Field. But the local supporters of the Democratic presidential nominee aren’t waiting for his arrival to start the rally.
Obama campaign staff members and volunteers were at work today at Obama's North Las Vegas "Campaign for Change" field office making phone calls and painting signs to carry at the Wednesday's speech.
“Tomorrow we’re going to have a great event. It’s a chance for people in the Southern Nevada area, and even we got some folks coming from northern areas, to see the next President of the United States,” said Paul Kincaid, Campaign for Change spokesperson.
Obama’s timing is crucial, considering the fluctuation of his numbers here in Nevada during the past month.
According to a Research 2000 poll featured on the Reno Gazette Journal, Obama was favored by Nevadans 44 percent to Republican Sen. John McCain’s 43 percent. But less than a month later, on Sept. 11, 2008, a Rasmussen Report showed McCain ahead at 49 percent and Obama at 46 percent among Nevadans.
“We don’t really take those too seriously. We come to work, we do our jobs, we know that there’s a lot of people out there, especially in this economic situation who are really hurting and they want change,” Kincaid said.
Voters in November will be more likely to cast their ballots for Democrats this time around not only because of Obama, but also because of how starkly 2004’s economic climate contrasts to the economy today, Kincaid said.
“In 2004, we still had some remnants of the economic success that we had under the Clinton Administration; now none of those remnants remain,” Kincaid said.
Bryan Pacheco, regional field director for the Obama campaign’s North Las Vegas office, echoed Kincaid’s thoughts about the support Obama has continued to garner from Southern Nevadans.
“It was kind of slow early on, but it’s picked up significantly in the past month. I think folks are starting to see the enthusiasm building up,” Pacheco said. “We have dozens of volunteers like this per day come in here to make signs, make phone calls, register voters, get the families involved. We have precinct captains training everyday.”
But Nevada Democrats did go for Sen. Hillary Clinton in January during the Nevada caucus. Clinton received 50.8 percent of the vote while Obama took just 45.1 percent. Nevada’s primary season results and results like it all over the country were a worry that several pundits pointed out could hurt a Democratic victory in November. A portion of the Democratic Convention was even aimed at bridging the gap between Clinton and Obama supporters.
Pacheco is confident that former Hillary Clinton supporters haven’t misplaced their support for Obama’s campaign, but instead have only added to its momentum.
“We have folks that were precinct captains for Sen. Clinton and they say, ‘You know what, I was a big supporter of Sen. Clinton, but now I know that my family wants change and Sen. Obama’s the only one that can bring that,’” Pacheco said.
Despite the high turnout at January’s caucus - 117,599 Democrats showed up to participate – Nevada has consistently been a red state in the past two elections. According to the Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, an online database that depicts every state’s voting trends in past elections, 49.5 percent of Nevadans voted for George W. Bush in 2000 while just under 46 percent of Nevadans voted for Al Gore. And, in 2004, a little more than 50 percent of Nevadans voted for Bush, while 47.8 percent voted for Sen. John Kerry.
For Terrena Jones, a new volunteer to the Obama campaign, this doesn’t seem like a trend that will continue in November.
“I think we all just want a change basically,” said Jones, “I did hear about it being a Republican state, but that’s changing, that’s changing. Everybody wants a change.”