Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nevada Democrats Finally Gain in New Voter Reg Stats... But Don't Get Giddy Yet!

Just a few minutes ago, the Nevada Secretary of State's office released the new voter registration numbers for March. And overall, Nevada Democrats have plenty to smile about.

According to numbers released today by the secretary of state, Democrats registered 2,544 voters in March, while Republicans added only 954 voters to their ranks. Nearly 2,050 voter registered non-partisan last month.

March was the first month this year, however, that Democrats registered more voters than Republicans, who saw a burst of registration activity just before the presidential caucuses in February.

Still, the numbers disappointed Republicans, who blamed the lack of activity on the “transitional” status of the Nevada Republican Party.

The poor numbers come despite a statewide voter registration and canvassing push on the first Saturday in March, an event touted by Republican officials as an example of GOP enthusiasm.

The state party has long lagged Democrats in organizational capacity, fundraising and voter registration. The party is beset by in-fighting amongst various factions and a lack of strong leadership.

The party’s chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian, resigned last month to help her husband Danny Tarkanian campaign for Congress. She had been chairwoman less than a year, replacing Mark Amodei, who had also cut his tenure as chairman short because of a congressional run.

Democrats have maintained a well-oiled turnout machine since 2008 and have a head start on Republicans this year. President Obama’s re-election campaign has been organizing in Nevada for months, while Republicans continue to wage a primary battle, preventing the eventual nominee from sinking resources into the battleground state early.

Obama’s campaign already has nine field offices open in Nevada.

And now, we're seeing the results of that "Great Nevada Republican Caucus Fracas of 2012". As I've said before, the media may love to cover party infighting, but it's not just good for winning elections.

But when we look closer at the numbers, both parties have reason to raise eyebrows. Looking at the two hot Congressional races here in Nevada, Democrats experienced slight registration gains in both District 3 (Henderson and Southwest Vegas) and District 4 (Summerlin, West Las Vegas, & Aliante in Clark County to Yerington & Ely in the rurals). In NV-03, the already small Republican registration edge narrowed further, from 405 voters in February to 303 voters now, leaving a tiny 0.01% GOP advantage. And in NV-04, the pretty healthy Democratic registration edge expanded slightly, from 26,118 voters in February to 26,526 voters in March, which means Democrats now have a 9.91% registration advantage there.

And in looking at the key Senate races that could change the balance of power in the Nevada Legislature, there was some interesting movement in both directions. Republicans actually bucked the overall trend and gained slightly in Districts 5 (Green Valley/Silverado Ranch) and 18 (Northwest Las Vegas). In SD 5, the Democratic edge narrowed from 2,242 voters in February to 2,231 voters in March, leaving a 3.92% Democratic advantage there. And in SD 18, the Republican edge expanded from 1,322 voters in February to 1,364 voters in March, leaving a 2.39% GOP advantage there.

However, Nevada Democrats did make gains in the three other key Senate races. In SD 15 in Washoe County, the Republican registration advantage tightened from 1,491 voters in February to 1,430 voters in March, leaving Republicans with only a 2.04% edge there now. Meanwhile back in Clark County, SD 9 (Mountain's Edge/Southern Highlands) experienced its Democratic registration advantage widen from 2,157 voters in February to 2,197 voters in March, meaning Democrats now have a 4.86% advantage there. And in SD 6 (Summerlin/Northwest Las Vegas), Democrats increased their registration advantage from 2,557 voters in February to 2,600 voters in March, which means Democrats now have a 4.36% registration advantage there.

And finally, we see an interesting diverge in trends in the two most populous counties in Nevada. In Washoe County, Republicans actually gained slightly, going from a 3,759 voter registration advantage in February to a 3,808 registration edge in March. But in Clark County, Democrats widened their voter registration advantage from 83,814 voters in February to 85,369 voters in March. Republicans now have a 1.76% registration edge in Washoe County, while Democrats now have a 11.68% registration edge in Clark County.

So far, it looks like Nevada Democrats still have more work to do in rebuilding the advantage gained in 2008. And apparently in some areas of Clark and Washoe Counties, Democrats are still slipping. But overall, it looks like that "Republican Renaissance" that many GOP consultants were trying to spin into existence early this year is a burst bubble. And considering what we're starting to see with that "enthusiasm gap" and those Obama numbers, Nevada Republican's shouldn't be feeling so smug any more.

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