Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nevada's State of Play in 2012: Congressional Edition!

(Also at DK Elections)

OK, OK, I'm back! Have you really missed me that much? Since at least some of you have been asking about the state of the Congressional races here in Nevada, I figured I'd update you on what's happening here in The Silver State.

So what are you waiting for? Come with me. You're in The Wild, Wild West now. Let's play!

Ever since the new map emerged, we've been on a wild political roller coaster ride here. Some candidates were quick to jump in, yet some have already been forced to jump out. Overall, the new map provides Nevada Democrats with exciting new opportunities. And while there are still some clear challenges present now, the trend going into the future is looking great.

NV-01 (Urban Las Vegas, Paradise, & Spring Valley)

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 64.51%
McCain (R) 33.05%

NV-Sen 2010
Reid (D) 62.40%
Angle (R) 33.09%

She's back! And she won't be leaving us again any time soon. Dina Titus may perhaps provide us with the most dramatic, yet ultimately upbeat, comeback saga of 2010/2012. Two years ago, she lost NV-03 by the narrowest of margins (only 1,748 votes, or 0.66%). But this year, she's set to win big in the new NV-01. It's just over D+11, so Dina no longer has to worry about tough, grueling campaigns... For herself.

Still, she doesn't want to take any kind of back seat to this year's action. At the Clark County Democratic Party Convention this month, Dina Titus made it clear that she doesn't want to just go back to Congress next year, but she wants to go in the majority.

She's definitely a team player, but now she has the chance to play coach and help guide Democrats in tougher districts to victory. And since her own Republican opponent in NV-01 looks to be going nowhere fast, Dina can now afford to play elsewhere.

Race Rating: Safe Democratic (Hold)

NV-02 (Reno, Carson City, & Rural Northern Nevada)

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 49.43%
McCain (R) 48.23%

NV-Sen 2010
Angle (R) 49.57%
Reid (D) 43.96%

Mark Amodei has really lucked out. He hasn't been good at raising money, he doesn't seem to be building much of a strong profile, and his district may be trending the other way. Yet despite all this, one of his Democratic opponents has already dropped out of the race. And despite all this, hardly any one is seeing this race as all that competitive.

Why? Last year's special election catastrophe probably has a big role in this. The "major league candidates" have pretty much been scared away since then, leaving only a handful of "minor league contenders" to compete for the honor of losing to Amodei this November. At this point, Democrats' only hope is that somehow President Obama wins NV-02 again and wins well enough to create down-ticket momentum up north. And while that may be possible, it will be incredibly difficult for even that to really make Amodei sweat.

This race may quickly fall off the radar entirely if Amodei doesn't step into major doo-doo any time soon.

Race Rating: Likely Republican (Hold)

NV-03 (Henderson, Enterprise, Summerlin South, & Southern Clark County)

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 53.53%
McCain (R) 44.58%

NV-Sen 2010
Reid (D) 48.75%
Angle (R) 47.03%

While Mark Amodei has lucked out, Joe Heck has not. Funny enough, NV-03 became slightly redder after redistricting while NV-02 became slightly bluer. Yet despite that, Joe Heck has run into quite a bit of trouble lately.

Why? It's still a "Purple District" that's developing more of a Blue tint. So Joe Heck's positions on issues like women's rights, Social Security & Medicare, and green energy are looking increasingly out of touch with his district. This is why Heck's campaign kickoff in February turned out to be a rocky start.

And this is why this race will probably (yet again!) be the key barnburner that determines not just the composition of Nevada's Congressional Delegation, but also the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

Race Rating: Tossup

NV-04 (North Las Vegas, Summerlin, Northwest Vegas, & Rural Central Nevada)

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 56.40%
McCain (R) 41.44%

NV-Sen 2010
Reid (D) 51.14%
Angle (R) 43.87%

Late last month, Republicans tried hard to capitalize on a "newspaper" article attacking "reporting" on Steven Horsford's past financial difficulties. However, I seriously doubt they can get very far with that. Why?

Oh, yes. Kind of like what happened in 2010 when Nevada Republicans had a bunch of "D List" candidates itching to lose to Harry Reid, they again have a bunch of "D List" candidates itching to lose to Steven Horsford. Unlike NV-Sen 2010, it seems like Danny Tarkanian may finally break his recent losing streak and get past the G-O-TEA primary. But like (Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrron Angle in) NV-Sen 2010, "Baby Tark" just doesn't seem to have much (other than his famous last name) to offer to voters.

What this race will probably come down to is turnout. As long as OFA turns out tons of Democratic voters in Clark County for President Obama, Horsford will probably have at least a fairly smooth sail to Congress. Republicans' only chance here lies with poor turnout in Clark County.

Race Rating: Leans Democratic (Pickup)

So as I've done before with the Legislature races, I'll close by ranking the districts in order of most likely to change hands.

NV-04 (R to D)
NV-03 (R to D)
NV-02 (R... Well, probably still R.)
NV-01 (D... & proud to be.)

This is really tricky. But if I had to stop the flipping somewhere, it would probably be at NV-03. Either way, the race there may be decided by another razor thin margin. But with even Joe Heck's campaign sensing trouble there, John Oceguera can't be counted out. But other than a possible close race in NV-04, the rest looks to be a snooze-fest.

Well, does that answer your questions?

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