Las Vegas Sun

October 7, 2015

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Democrats’ voter edge in Nevada is dwindling


Nevada Democrats’ once seemingly insurmountable voter registration edge is dwindling, with the latest numbers showing the margin at its narrowest since 2008.

Active Democratic voters in the state still outnumber Republicans by 50,000 voters, according to figures released today by Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller.

But following the 2008 election, which saw President Barack Obama elected in a landslide, the Democratic advantage stood at 100,000.

Put another way, Democrats, at their high-water mark in 2008, had 44 percent of Nevada voters to 35.5 percent for Republicans. Now, Democrats’ advantage of 41.5 percent to 37.8 percent.

The latest numbers come after the Clark County Registrar of Voters updated voter registration lists last month. More than 60,000 voters that moved and did not update their voter registration were placed on inactive status. They can still vote in an election at their old precinct, but it is also possible they have left the state.

Larry Lomax, the Clark County Registrar of Voters, said in an interview last week that the U.S. Postal Service has increased its charges for returning mail sent to an inactive address. He said that the voters were not “purged” from the rolls.

Democrats noted that this was the biggest voter registration advantage either party has had heading into a presidential election year and that they intend to build on it. “We’ve just begun voter registration and mobilization efforts,” said Zach Hudson, spokesman for the state party, in an interview.

To be sure, Democrats have a tremendous organizational advantage. But after a decade of Republicans and Democrats being virtually even in voter registration, Democrats built their advantage during the Democratic presidential caucus, which drew interest because of its early status and several presidential campaigns putting efforts into registering supporters here.

This cycle, Republicans have moved back their caucus, to Feb. 4, to accommodate Florida. Many political pundits believe the race will already be decided by then.

Republicans have had no voter registration effort to speak of and their state party chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian, announced her resignation last week effective Feb. 5. Her husband, Danny Tarkanian, is considering running for the newly created 4th Congressional District.

David Gallagher, executive director for the Nevada State Republican Party, said the party has spent $70,000 on a voter registration program targeting Republicans who have recently moved to Nevada or relocated within the state. He said they’re also blanketing precincts where Gov. Brian Sandoval performed well in his 2010 run.

Gallagher said volunteers with county parties have set up tables at car shows, gun shows, the San Gennaro festival and business mixers. “Things will more-than pick up,” he said.

The last day to register to vote to participate in Nevada’s caucuses is Jan. 20.

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