Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Juego Cambio

Yes, I know we've been talking quite a bit sobre El Voto Latino. But really, there's no way to overstate la importancia de la comunidad. And starting today, we will be seeing more evidence of Latino turnout.

Political pundits, campaign organizers and national magazines have declared 2012 the year of the Hispanic voter. Voter registration numbers and enthusiasm is up, and now all of those who invested in the wake-up call for this once-dormant demographic want to make sure it does not hit the snooze button on Election Day.

“I worked registering voters in 2008 and 2010, and I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm this year,” [Izack] Tenorio [of Mi Familia Vota] said. “There are a lot of groups on the ground in Nevada encouraging Hispanics to get involved, and I’ve seen whole families come into our offices to all register together. I think people are starting to embrace their role and the choice they can participate in. Now, we just have to make sure they take that final step of getting to the polls.”

Mi Familia Vota came into this election cycle with the goal of registering 11,000 voters in Nevada. A few months in, the organization met that benchmark and set another one. That one was broken, too. More than 19,000 voters, the vast majority of them Hispanics, were registered, said Leo Murrieta, state director for Mi Familia Vota.

In a nationwide poll, Latino Decisions found that 8 percent of Hispanic voters had voted early as of Oct. 29 and 87 percent of Hispanic voters said they were “almost certain” to vote. Also, 45 percent of the demographic said they were more excited to vote this year than in 2008, when 84 percent of registered Hispanics voted. Notably, the percentage of Hispanics who said they were certain to vote and more enthusiastic than in 2008 have both increased in the weeks leading up to the election.

Many more Latino voters have been registered this year. But now, the real test comes. How many will vote?

Some already have. But as I hinted on Monday, we'll see a real "game change" moment today when more early voting sites open in Latin@ heavy East Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. For these final three days of early voting, the Clark County Election Department will be covering these neighborhoods much more thoroughly than we've seen for the previous 11 days.

So now, it truly is all about turnout. And since early voting is often the best (and sometimes the ONLY) way to get people to vote, these next 60 hours will be critical. And it may all come down to how crowded the Cardenas Market at Lamb & Bonanza becomes today (and tomorrow and Friday).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Astroturf Follies in Politics

When I first heard that AFP was playing some more in Nevada Legislature races, I wasn't expecting this. I must admit, this was quite the interesting surprise. At first glance, this doesn't seem like much.

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After all, this is the same anti-Obama/anti-Shelley Berkley doorhanger that we found in Henderson over two weeks ago. However, there was something different about this AFP doorhanger.

But before I make the big reveal, I must note something. This doorhanger was found in NV-03 and State Senate District 9 in the Southwest Vegas Valley. Just keep that in mind as I show you the back of this doorhanger.

So are you ready for the big reveal? Well, here it is. Ta da!

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Again, remember that this was found in NV-03 and SD 9. Yet for some reason, this doorhanger attacks Steven Horsford (the Democrat running in NV-04) and Benny Yerushalmi (the Democrat running in SD 6)! For some reason, AFP dropped the wrong doorhanger in the wrong area.

Perhaps we really shouldn't be surprised by this. After all, we're talking about the same "charitable foundation" behind #BusWreck2012. And we're talking about the same organization that was hawking cheap gas in hopes of swaying the election. And we're talking about the same organization that's likely been violating state election law in hopes of electing state lawmakers it favors.

Can you detect a pattern here? I can. And I suspect it's one that the Nevada G-O-TEA won't like too much come next week. It's one thing to be shady... But shady and incompetent is quite the unique blend that I've never really seen before (until now).

Report on Hurricane Sandy

It's hard to ignore what's happening back east. Sandy hit. And Sandy wasn't kind.

Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline with 80 mph winds Monday night and hurled an unprecedented 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City, flooding its tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street. At least 16 U.S. deaths were blamed on the storm, which brought the presidential campaign to a halt a week before Election Day.

For New York City at least, Sandy was not the dayslong onslaught many had feared, and the wind and rain that sent water sloshing into Manhattan from three sides began dying down within hours.

Still, the power was out for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and an estimated 6.2 million people altogether across the East. The full extent of the storm's damage across the region was unclear, and unlikely to be known until daybreak.

Stock trading will be closed in the U.S. for a second day Tuesday — the first time the New York Stock Exchange will be closed for two consecutive days due to weather since 1888, when a blizzard struck the city.

Heavy rain and further flooding remain major threats for the next couple of days as the storm makes its way into Pennsylvania and up into New York State. The center of the storm was just outside Philadelphia near midnight, and its winds were down to 75 mph, just barely hurricane strength.

Salon has more photos of the extensive damage in New York and New Jersey. At least 17 people have died due to storm related causes. And many millions across the East Coast are still without electric power.

If you would like to help recovery efforts in the East Coast, The American Red Cross needs it.

Just thinking of friends here who have family back there, I've been at least a little scared. I can hardly even think of those who must worry about loved ones stranded in affected areas. They will certainly be in our thoughts and prayers today.

Monday, October 29, 2012

La Importancia del Voto Latino

I know we've been constantly discussing the importance of Latino voters in deciding this election, but I just can't stress enough how critical they will be... And really, already are. Today, we're given another reminder courtesy of Latino Decisions.

Overall, Obama has the support of 73% of all Latino registered voters, compared to 21% who favor Romney. The 52-point gap matches the largest gap among Latinos this year, also found in the October 1 tracking poll.

For the ten weeks the impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll has been taken the most important issue for Latinos consistently has been the economy and the latest release revealed that Romney and the Republican party have been unable to convince Latino voters that they will be better at improving the it. Seventy-three percent of Latino voters trust Obama and the Democrats to make the right decisions to improve the economy compared to only 18% that trust Romney and the Republicans.

“The poll shows that this year we can anticipate record participation among Latino voters,” said Monica Lozano, CEO of impreMedia “It looks like the “Sleeping Giant” has woken up.”

Over the past weeks the number of Latinos who say they are certain to vote has gone from 81% to 84% and now 87%. At the same time, the percent who say they are more enthusiastic in 2012 has grown from 36% to 40% and now 45%. The percent who describe themselves as “very enthusiastic” has gone from 51% to 56% to 59% in the last three weeks.

And apparently, 8% of Latino voters nationwide have already voted early. Expect that number to rise this week, especially here in Nevada once more temporary early voting sites open in heavily Latino neighborhoods in East Las Vegas and North Las Vegas (starting Wednesday).

So why is this happening? Well, remember what we discussed in February...

Look at how far Willard Romney has gone. He's been endorsed by the extreme right Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the guy perhaps most responsible for Arizona's and Alabama's extreme anti-immigrant statutes as well as someone with well documented ties to white supremacist groups. [...]

Mittens not only opposes comprehensive immigration reform, but he also virulently opposes the DREAM Act, and he's been confronted by Latin@ students over it. And if that weren't bad enough, Romney's economic policies would also hurt Latino families if enacted by stripping away their health care, taking away opportunities to attend college, and destroying Social Security. Oh, and he also has long standing ties to Former California Governor Pete Wilson (R), the guy who ran on the extreme anti-immigrant Prop 187 and ultimately killed whatever chances California Republicans had of ever winning the Latino vote again.

And no matter how much Mitt Romney keeps trying to spin his own record away, the vast majority of Latino voters refuse to forget. This keeps coming back to bite Romney where it hurts the most.

This also has to be scaring Dean Heller. After all, his poll numbers among Latino voters here in Nevada have been falling along with Romney's. And his now infamous comments on immigration reform at the last NV-Sen debate continue to haunt him.

Nevada truly is a dynamic state. One aspect of our state that continues to change fairly rapidly is our demographics. It provided an unexpected twist (to the East Coast based media pundits) to our US Senate race in 2010. And it may yet doom Nevada Republicans again in 2012.

Second Weekend of Early Voting Breakdown (& Forecast for the Final Days)

Yesterday, early voting slowed down in Clark and Washoe Counties. In Clark County, the Democratic turnout advantage ticked down a bit to 16% (49-33). But in Washoe County, Democrats' turnout advantage actually ticked up to 2.5% (42.6-40.1). So far, Democrats have likely extended their raw early vote turnout lead to at least 30,000 statewide.

Here's what Bloomberg had to say about the general early voting trend here.

In two of the most competitive states in the U.S. presidential race -- Iowa and Nevada --Democrats are building a significant advantage in early voting. [...]

Thus far in Nevada, where an even larger proportion of the vote has been cast than in Iowa when compared to the 2008 vote, Democrats have accounted for 45.4 percent, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. Republicans have accounted for 37.2 percent and independent voters for 17.4 percent.

Heavily Democratic Clark County, Nevada’s most populous and where Las Vegas is located, has seen people registered with the president’s party cast 121,298 early and absentee ballots, compared to 81,512 for Republicans, through Oct. 27.

And their figures don't include yesterday's early vote totals. And in regards to the early vote totals here in Clark County, I have a theory as to why Democratic turnout was off a bit yesterday... And may remain lower today and tomorrow. Basically, look at where the early voting is happening. Yesterday, early voting started in Sun City Anthem. And for the next two days, there will be temporary early voting sites there and at Sun City Summerlin, Boulder City, and Mesquite. So long story short, Republican turnout is probably strengthening slightly because early voting is happening in Republican strongholds.

However, starting Wednesday we'll see temporary early voting sites shift more to East Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. So as long as Democrats turn out their voters there (in what are the big Democratic strongholds in the Las Vegas Valley), Democrats can still close the week, and early voting, quite well. We'll just have to wait and see exactly what happens this week.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scenes from the Campaign Trail in NV-03

Late last night, we saw another Clark County update on early voting turnout here. Countywide, Democrats now have a 17.70% turnout advantage. In NV-03, Democrats have a 4.79% turnout advantage as of last night. In the Clark County portion of NV-04, Democrats so far have a 22.13% turnout advantage. And in the key State Debate Districts 5, 6, 9, and 18 which will determine control of the Nevada Legislature next year, Democrats so far have turnout advantages of 7.99% (SD 5), 10.83% (SD 6), 8.01% (SD 9), and 1.02% (SD 18). Overall and in most parts of Clark County, Democratic turnout continues to overperform voter registration.

So how is this happening? As we discussed last Sunday, it's all about the field now. We saw this on display again yesterday when local Sierra Club volunteers knocked doors in the Green Valley (aka SD 5) neighborhoods of NV-03 with John Oceguera. Everyone took part in turning out more Democrats to vote early...

@JohnOceguera talking to @Sierra_Club volunteers before @nvde... on Twitpic

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@JohnOceguera just returned from another canvass... To make @... on Twitpic

And afterward, the candidate himself joined some volunteers in making "Get Out the Vote" (GOTV) phone calls!

And that's not all. Throughout last week, the local Nevada Democratic "Super Organizer" and local volunteers also canvassed the expansive and just recently developed Southwest part of the valley (aka SD 9). Since there were not as many early voting sites in the Southwest Vegas Valley as in other parts of the valley during the first week of early voting, it was imperative to reach these neighborhoods and turn out as many Democratic voters as possible.

And yes, John Oceguera himself also stopped by last Sunday to walk here himself. He's certainly taking his campaigning seriously.

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There's clearly been plenty of work done by Nevada Democrats in the past week. But in the end, they're hoping all this work will be rewarded in President Obama and Shelley Berkley winning, along with the local Congressional and Legislature candidates. And so far, it looks like Nevada Democrats are laying the groundwork for just that. We'll just have to wait and see how Week 2 of early voting continues.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Senator Reid in Car Crash... But "He's OK" Now.

I just found out about this while I was out.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid was taken to University Medical Center Trauma as a precaution early Friday afternoon after his motorcade was involved in a multivehicle accident on Interstate 15 in Las Vegas.

A source close to Reid's family said, "He's OK." The senator apparently had no visible injuries but was transported by a staff member to the hospital as a matter of caution.

Karen Gordon, a spokeswoman for UMC, said the condition report on Reid was "good."

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremie Elliott said the accident occurred about 1:10 p.m. in the northbound lanes of I-15, north of Sahara Avenue.

Trooper Loy Hixson said five vehicles were involved in the accident: two vehicles carrying Reid and members of his party; two Metro Police vehicles; and one civilian vehicle.

Well, at least it looks like he'll survive and be all right in the end. But my goodness, what a scare!

And wow, the Reid family has been through so much lately. About two years ago, Landra and their daughter were in a car crash in DC. And Landra has recently survived breast cancer. They truly have been through so much lately.

And the Reids are definitely still in our thoughts and prayers today.

Some Quick Math

Earlier this morning, Ralston posted this update on early voting.

The Democrats extended their lead in Clark County to about 36,000 voters over the Republicans with another solid day and another day where 30,000-plus voters turned out. It now seems reasonable to assume the lead will be 40,000 or so after one week.

With a week to go, that would put the Democrats about halfway to the lead they had in 2008 --83,000. I don't think they will get there, but they don't have to. Obama won the state by 12 points (Clark by 19) with that lead. All he needs to do is be in double digits in Clark, and he will win Nevada unless there is a landslide in Washoe, which does not appear to be happening (there were no numbers posted for Washoe as I write this).

The latest Clark numbers (mail and early votes):

Democrats -- 105,674, or 50 percent

Republicans -- 69,512, or 33 percent

Others -- 37, 264, or 17 percent

And he just tweeted this.

Washoe numbers posted. Dems won Thursday by 36 votes out of 8,300-plus cast. So Republicans not doing much to get lead in swing county.

This is not where Republicans want to be as the first week of early voting wraps up. Even though Republicans have caught up a little since Sunday, they're still underperforming voter registration overall in both major population centers in the state.

The Secretary of State's early voting report was released yesterday before the Clark and Washoe numbers are updated. But since it looks like the dynamics weren't changed too much last night, I'll use these figures for now. As of yesterday afternoon, 46% of Nevada voters who have already turned out are Democrats, while 37% are Republicans and 17% are Nonpartisans or of minor parties.

Now, let's play this scenario. Since most polls show the two major party bases consolidated, I'll give 90% of the Democrats to Obama and 90% of the Republicans to Romney. This means that most likely, Romney is getting at least 33.3% of the vote while Obama is getting 41.4%. And what about the remaining 25.3%? If he isn't winning over at least 66.01% of the Nonpartisans and "soft" partisans (aka the remaining 25.3%), then he's losing the early vote right now. And he's probably losing the early vote quite badly.

(If we're "fair" and split Nonpartisans about evenly, Obama is leading by at least high single digits right now among the early votes already cast.)

So far, the "Team Nevada" Republicans have been spinning to the media that they're really not doing all that badly. Hogwash. If they weren't, the numbers wouldn't look like this.

So at this point, all Republicans can do is push more of their voters to turn out... And hope Democratic turnout falls off. Because if the trajectory stays as is, then expect to see plenty of cheerful Blue come the night of November 6.

12:15 PM UPDATE: Well, it turns out I was right in my earlier call. Here's Ralston with the latest.

Statewide NV numbers updated: Dems leading in early vote and mail. Have 26K vote statewide. 46% to 37%. Huge turnout. Um, about that call...

So we're officially ending Week 1 with a 9% Democratic turnout advantage statewide. This is why Mitt Romney operatives and Nevada Republican consultants are so nervous now. As long as the trajectory holds in Week 2, the trend isn't looking good for them.

NV-04: A Surprising Turn

Earlier this year, Jim Rogers surprised many with his endorsement of Danny Tarkanian. Many kept asking why someone who's cared so much and done so much for public education would endorse someone who really doesn't care about our schools. Well, I guess this was a relationship that was doomed to fail. Last week, Rogers wrote this.

With one statement, Danny Tarkanian removed himself from the group of politicians I will support in the upcoming election. Tarkanian, in a debate with Horsford, said he didn’t believe higher education should be a right. He said new provisions to subsidize college education would not be wise because of the economic problems facing the country. This is an outrageously ignorant statement. Only higher education has the ability to prepare our citizens to make the American economy recover. Tarkanian’s views would continue to spiral the downward plunge of the American economy.

Indeed, Baby Tark actually did say that. And he's reiterated his support for the "Balanced Budget Amendment", which is less about actually balancing the federal budget and more about defunding public education while also gutting Medicare & Social Security to death. Perhaps this weighed on Rogers' decision (redo) as well.

Oh, and there was also this.

Jim Rogers, the mercurial television station owner and former head of the Nevada System of Higher Education, has changed horses in the Congressional District 4 race.

Once a blistering critic of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, he now said in an interview he is supporting him over Republican Danny Tarkanian.

“Of the two, he’s the better candidate,” he said. “I still have problems with Steven. But, you know, those are more irritating than substantive.”

He sent a letter to Horsford on Thursday saying he would not support Tarkanian because “my enthusiasm for his candidacy has waned” as he learned about Tarkanian’s “understanding of the critical issues facing Nevada.”

Rogers also said Horsford committed to bringing a “full service medical school” to Southern Nevada.

“I am also pleased by your written commitment to me to bring expanded health and medical services through a new complex to be built in Southern Nevada which will be anchored by a full-service medical school,” Rogers said.

You know, it helps to work with someone who actually wants a working government. Steven Horsford gets that. And it finally dawned on Rogers earlier this month that Horsford gets that... And Tarkanian does not.

That's really the story of this NV-04 race full of crazy twists and turns. One candidate actually understands the office he's now running for, while the other simply does not.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NV-03: Surprise @ the KSNV Studio

Probably as I'm writing this, the final NV-03 debate may be starting to wrap up. (It will air later tonight on KSNV 3.) This time, Jon Ralston is hosting. And it's probably no holds barred.

Outside the KSNV studio near Downtown Las Vegas, this is how Joe Heck was "greeted".

How @Heck4Nevada was "greeted" @ #Vegas News 3 stud... on Twitpic

A group of Nevada Democrats rallied outside the studio. I guess they just wanted to give Heck a little reminder of what's coming his way.

Perhaps this is why John Oceguera was much happier when he saw the activists.

@JohnOceguera greeted by supporters outside #Vegas News 3 stu... on Twitpic

How @JohnOceguera rolled into @RalstonReports #NV03 #nvdebate... on Twitpic

Oceguera was quite happy to see supporters cheering him in. And actually, he may not have even known they were coming. So it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

I guess this qualifies as one of the lighter moments on the campaign trail. Every once in a while, it's OK to let loose for a spell. And it's OK to rally outside a TV studio.

Mr. President's (Brief) Return to Vegas

It was a "one night only" special event... At least for now. He came to lift spirits and stir the crowd to action. And wow, what a show he put on.

8 News NOW

Supporters cheered on President Barack Obama during his speech at Doolittle Park in Las Vegas Wednesday night, where he spoke to an estimated 13,000 people, according to fire officials.

Obama landed at McCarran International Airport a little after 9 p.m. Before his arrival, Rep. Shelley Berkley and state Sen. Steven Horsford spoke to the crowd, followed by pop star Katy Perry who then performed a few songs.

During the speech, Obama talked about his tax plan and challenged Mitt Romney's own plan.

"Unlike Mitt Romney, I'm willing to talk about what's in my plan," Obama said.

He also reached out to minority groups, saying "No matter where you come from, or who you love, you can make it in America."

With early voting continuing and polls all over the place, President Obama was aiming to simply excite Democrats into voting. And for the ones who have already voted, he urged them to help him get out the vote. So far, Democrats have had quite a bit of success with that. But with Republicans spending big to catch up, President Obama wants to make sure Nevada Democrats don't let up.

Tomorrow, First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to return to Las Vegas. And expect even more surprises next week. With so much at stake here in Nevada for both the President and Congress, everyone will continue fighting to the finish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Is AFP Playing in #NVLeg?

Last time we checked in on AFP Nevada, they were leaving bizarre looking doorhangers in neighborhoods across Southern Nevada and planning some "Freedom Day" get out the vote rally for Republicans "concert" on the first day of early voting. And so far, it looks like the Kochs' pet "charity" won't be letting up any time soon. In fact, they may be flooding your mailbox right now.

A mailer sent to voters in southwestern Las Vegas’ Senate District 9 implies candidate Justin Jones would side with “Carson City politicians” who raise taxes and “spend your money.”

And in a particularly inciting mailer attacking former state Sen. Sheila Leslie in Reno’s Senate District 15, Americans for Prosperity superimposed Leslie’s head on the bodies of scantily clad fire dancers to criticize her for supporting a bill to regulate the artists.

Neither of the mailers explicitly says to vote against the candidate — or for their opponents —a technicality that would allow such political advertising in federal races without disclosure of who funded the group creating the ad.

But Nevada’s campaign finance laws require political organizations to register and disclose their donors if they produce advertising that can reasonably be interpreted as seeking to influence a specific campaign, according to Secretary of State Ross Miller.

Americans for Prosperity sent similar mailers attacking Democratic Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson in his primary campaign for Senate District 4. Those mailers prompted a complaint from the Nevada Democratic Party.

Earlier this month, Miller notified the nonprofit that he believes the mailers violated Nevada’s campaign finance laws and referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.

Back in July, we noted the incredibly bizarre case of AFP wading into the SD 4 DEMOCRATIC Primary in hopes of defeating Kelvin Atkinson. We still don't know exactly why AFP decided to play there, but it is increasingly clear that AFP has been sending out "informational literature" with the intent of influencing elections. And that may not be legal here in Nevada, at least when it comes to our State Legislature races.

Perhaps the SD 4 incident was just a "test run" meant to prepare AFP for what they're doing now. The doorhanger we found earlier this month attacked President Obama and Shelley Berkley on one side, then attacked John Oceguera and Joyce Woodhouse (the Democratic nominee for SD 5) on the other side. And now, AFP mailers are being caught attacking Justin Jones (the Democratic nominee in SD 9) and Sheila Leslie (the Democratic nominee in SD 15). It just looks too funny that, all of a.sudden, AFP is playing in the very State Senate seats that Republicans must win in order to take control of the Nevada Senate. And we're still supposed to believe that AFP is some sort of "nonpartisan, educational, charitable foundation"? Yeah, right.

It's now looking quite clear as to what AFP Nevada is aiming to do. And no, it doesn't involve "charity" or "education". Rather, AFP is trying to tip several competitive federal and state level races into Republican hands. Yet in failing to file the appropriate paperwork as a political action committee (PAC) and disclose its donors, AFP may actually be violating state election law while trying to elect lawmakers! Surely, we can't be the only ones seeing the irony here?

So Why Is This in Court? (Because They Don't Want the Voters to Decide?)

So far, "The Education Initiative" has experienced quite the political and legal roller coaster ride this year. And it isn't about to get any smoother. A district court judge in Carson City has just made sure to that.

The Nevada State Education Association and the Nevada State AFL-CIO are in the process of collecting the 72,352 signatures required for their Education Initiative, which proposes to impose a 2 percent margin tax on Nevada businesses with more than $1 million in total revenue.

The tax would raise approximately $800 million annually in new funding for the state's K-12 public schools, the labor unions said.

However, challenging the unions is the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, a political action committee that argues the margin tax would hurt businesses. The pro-business PAC filed a complaint seeking injunctive relief and requested that a judge declare the petition invalid on several grounds.

In his ruling Tuesday, Judge James Wilson Jr. agreed with many of the business PAC's arguments, saying the language used to describe the tax's effect to voters was "incomplete, deceptive, misleading, and therefore, invalidates the petition."

NSEA & AFL-CIO are already planning to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, so this dramatic tale is still far from over. It's just amazing how far certain corporate interests will go to silence people's voices. Seriously, do you think they'd be suing like this if they didn't think it was popular?

And as we discussed in June, it's becoming comical to watch "Tea Party, Inc." argue against this initiative simply because it follows the very rule that they have used to kill past tax reform initiatives in court. Basically, they're trying to turn the single subject rule into a constant "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation that kills a tax reform initiative either way! How is this fair at all?

Again, this ruling will be appealed. And the Nevada Supreme Court will have to give some thought about how NSEA & the AFL-CIO have bent over backwards to follow the letter of the law on this... Only to be slapped with a law suit by a group that was formed solely for the purpose of defeating this initiative. Is there truly a legal motivation for this law suit? Or is this just a surreptitious and at least somewhat deceptive effort to put the brakes on a progressive tax reform effort that just might pass (and pass handily) if given to voters?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney's Welcome Back to Southern Nevada

As we had discussed earlier, Mitt Romney is here.

back entrance to Paseo Verde @mypublib & pavilion closed ... on Twitpic

This the line outside @MittRomney's #Henderson event. #W... on Twitpic

And just before he arrived, there were some special people ready to greet him.

Guess who's @MittRomney event @bfades @ProgressNowNV #te... on Twitpic

@ProgressNowNV by @MittRomney #Henderson #Vegas #teaparty eve... on Twitpic

@Astrid_NV & @Sierra_Club super volunteer Teresa outside ... on Twitpic

For the most part, things remained calm at Henderson Pavilion. The only major moment of contention happened when the Univision camera crew came over to film the ProgressNow Nevada protesters and a few Romney supporters were hurling insults at the protesters... And at the Univision camera crew. Other than that, there wasn't really confrontation this morning.

The other big takeaway from this morning was in contrasting what happened on the two sides. Honestly, the line for Mitt Romney looked like a long string of white. There was little diversity in the crowd. And the crowd mostly looked angry.

Meanwhile, the protesters were frustrated over Romney's anti-immigrant stance and refusal to acknowledge the severity of the foreclosure crisis. Yet even there, the group of protesters didn't look as visibly angry as the Romney supporters waiting in line. I just couldn't miss that interesting facet.

At the very least, the nearby early voting site at the Paseo Verde Library should see some action today. We'll have to see how much of a dent it really makes in Nevada Democrats' early vote lead.

Busy Week

As early voting continues at a furious pace...

... And the debates finally come to an end, it's time for one more round of rallies and special events to fire up the base.

Today, Mitt Romney will be here in Henderson... And guess who will be just outside the venue.

And then tomorrow, Romney will head to Reno while President Obama throws a "block party" in West Las Vegas Wednesday night. We'll do our best here to stay on top of all the action and provide updates this week.

Campaign season is about to come to a close, so we might as well enjoy the fireworks.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quick Thoughts on the Final Debate

So tonight was the final debate. It was supposed to be about foreign policy. Instead, it looked like a certain someone tried to make it into a shitfest on everything but foreign policy.

Here's TPM Editor Josh Marshall on what happened.

The first half hour was a draw, though President Obama scored by default when Romney either didn’t or couldn’t attack on Libya.

After that though Romney began to falter as Obama became more direct, organized and declarative. Romney seemed increasingly lost. Obama seemed comfortable, happy. The visuals told the story. Romney was sweating a lot and looked like he was in pain. Into the second half of the debate Romney’s answers seemed more jumbled and unfocused. There was even the rambling and generally uncontroversial digression on Pakistan. Why? He seemed lost.

Translated into Romney visuals he had what President Obama had in the first debate: that look of someone who wanted to be anywhere but on that stage.

This is why Mitt Romney didn't want to talk about foreign policy. He clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. He wants to criticize every action taken by President Obama, but he can't actually describe his own plan of action on Iran, Libya, China, or Russia...

Obama took the chance to needle Romney on his adversarial position on Russia. “I’m glad that you recognize al Qaeda is a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked the biggest threat facing America, you said Russia,” Obama said. “The Cold War has been over for 20 years. But governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

Later Obama said directly to Romney, “You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.”

... Or anywhere else.

So instead, he wanted to talk about how much he loves teachers. Oh, and he wanted to throw out more G-O-TEA talking points on the economy.

And this comes back to the whole issue of "The Commander-in-Chief Test". How has Mitt Romney proven himself in that test? Has he even tried the test? How can he be President if he can't explain his vision of presenting America to the rest of the world?

And herein lies (another reason) why Mitt Romney still struggles in this campaign.

El Voto Latino

We've talked extensively about the importance of Latino voters in this election. Today, we're given at least a couple more reminders of this.

First off, we have the new Latino Decisions poll and some very interesting numbers there.

After a slight decline in last week’s poll, Obama’s support is back up near his previous high 3 weeks ago. When asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, a combined 71% of respondents were certain or likely to vote for Obama, compared to 67% last week and 72% two weeks ago. A combined 20% were certain or likely to vote for Romney, compared to 23% last week and 20% two weeks ago.

One of the most interesting electoral stories over the last two weeks may be that while the overall national polls show Romney making noticeable gains on Obama, among the Latino electorate Romney gained only 3 points during his rise, but lost those 3 points back this week and stands at 20%. And a very important footnote to the national polls – if they are not accurately polling and counting Latino voters which will comprise 10% of all voters, they may be overstating Romney’s numbers by 2 or 3 points.

At the very least, this may explain the strange national poll numbers that occasionally pop up. If their likely voter screens are excluding too many Latin@ voters, just as most public polls of Nevada do, then the actual reality on the ground may be different from what's being said on the cable shows. And it explains why President Obama's campaign isn't breaking a sweat over the above mentioned national polls.

However, at least some from the national media are taking a closer look at what's happening here in Nevada. And perhaps they're starting to realize what's actually occurring on the ground.

“Before President Obama made his decision to go forward with deferred action, it was pretty dismal,” said Vicenta Montoya, an immigration attorney and Democratic activist. “I was going to vote for Obama but it wasn’t going to be with grand enthusiasm.”

Now Obama’s order has fired up Montoya and others in East Las Vegas, a swath of shopping centers, tire shops and weathered ranch houses sprawling east from the Strip. It’s the neighborhood of the often-unionized people who make Sin City function: housekeepers, card dealers and taxi drivers.

For some, Obama’s order pulled them into politics. Earlier this month, Hector Rivera’s father asked him what he was going to do with his future. Rivera, a high school senior who was brought into the United States without authorization when he was 5, went to the East Las Vegas Obama campaign office and volunteered.

The teenager already has applied for documents allowing him to work under Obama’s program. “It’s an opportunity for me and future generations,” said Rivera, 17, imagining how his own unborn children could benefit someday. “Even though they’ll be born here, I want to get a better job to give them a better opportunity so they can live a better life.”

Others, like Sergio Solis, have suffered economically but see the president as on their side. Solis had to close a restaurant in Southern California and move here to work as a salesman for an energy company. But, after approvingly mentioning the DREAM Act, Solis said it will take time to correct the country’s course following the eight years of the George W. Bush administration.

“This building here, I can dynamite it and destroy it in five minutes,” Solis said, gesturing to a supermarket where he was handing out brochures. “But I can’t build it back up in five minutes.”

This is a major reason why both Mitt Romney and Dean Heller are in serious trouble here. Like the rest of the G-O-TEA, they have embraced the anti-Latin@ xenophobia of their "base". And now, they are paying the price as Latin@ voters keep their distance from the Nevada G-O-TEA.

As I've been saying all along, this may be the ultimate factor in pushing Nevada (again) into the blue column this fall.

First Weekend of Early Voting Turnout Report

In case Saturday didn't provide enough drama and surprise, we can see even more amazing numbers in today's early vote report. Here's where we stand after the first weekend of early voting:

- In Clark County, 22.46% more Democrats than Republicans voted early in the first two weekend. To put things into perspective, Democrats finished with a 14.96% voter registration advantage earlier this month.

- In NV-03, Democrats built a 9.42% turnout advantage this past weekend. Here, Democrats closed voter registration with a 2.11% registration advantage.

- In the Clark County portion of NV-04, Democrats so far have a 29.39% turnout advantage. For all of NV-04, Democrats finished with a 13.27% registration advantage.

- We also saw interesting early voting turnout numbers in the key State Senate districts which will determine control of the Nevada Legislature next year. In the Henderson-Green Valley based SD 5, Democrats reached a 12.90% turnout advantage. In the Las Vegas-Summerlin based SD 6, Democrats hit a 20.09% turnout advantage. In the Southwest Vegas Valley based SD 9, Democrats reached a 9.93% turnout advantage. And in the Northwest Las Vegas based SD 18, Democrats reached an 8.04% turnout advantage. With the one exception of SD 9, Democrats dramatically overperformed voter registration in all the other competitive Senate seats.

- And finally, after two days of early voting Democrats have so far managed to produce a 9.79% turnout advantage in Washoe County. Early this month, Republicans (!!!) actually closed with a tiny 0.005% voter registration edge.

So in the first two days of early voting here in Nevada, Democrats have run up a major turnout advantage in the two most populous counties in the state. This is certainly a good start for them. So what's to come this week? We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is How Elections Are Won.

Here in Nevada, early voting started yesterday. And it was truly a momentous occasion. Not only did people turn out to be among the first in this state to cast ballots, but the lines (and the determination of these voters to stay in line to vote) were truly awe inspiring!

Late last night, Jon Ralston leaked the Clark County and Washoe County early vote numbers.

Democrats also decisively defeated Republicans in first round of absentee ballots, usually a GOP strength, posted in Clark County: 8,976-7,448, or 46-38. So raw number in Clark so far: Dems, 27,364-17,036. That's 52-32, or 5 points above the registration edge.

So: After one day -- remember it's only oen day! -- using absentees and early votes in Clark and early votes in Washoe (don't have absentees yet), the Democrats have an 11,000-vote lead statewide. Let's see where we go from here. [...]

The Washoe numbers: 48-38, or 4,604-3,619 (Actual registration: 38-38)

Yes, it's only one day. But if it continues like this, Nov. 6 is going to be a very bleak day for Republicans in this state.

Yes, I know. These numbers seem so wildly unbelievable. But really, it happened!

Let me explain to you how it happened. Let's start with this scene at the Galleria Mall in Henderson.

in line 4 #EarlyVoting @ #Henderson #Vegas Galleria #TodayIsT... on Twitpic

Yes, all these people were actually waiting to vote. Oh, and I was one of them!

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And that wasn't all. Throughout the day, Nevada Democrats were making calls and knocking on tons of doors to turn out voters for President Obama, Shelley Berkley, and all other Democrats down the ballot. And most of the voters in this middle class neighborhood just up the freeway from the Las Vegas Strip were happy to see the volunteers at their doors... And they made their plans to vote early.

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Funny enough, yesterday evening I saw a group of Republicans canvass this very neighborhood as well. They were dropping Mitt Romney and Dean Heller literature... At DEMOCRATIC doors! And the Democrats in that neighborhood were none too pleased.

And when the "Team Nevada" Republican canvassers were finished, they were picked up by a big white "paddy wagon". No really, I kid you not!

Meanwhile, another set of Democratic canvassers were coming in for the final round of "EGOTV" (early get out the vote) for the day. After all, today is another day of early voting. And there are still many more Democratic voters to turn out.

Believe it or not, this is how elections are won.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Biggest Little Legislature Race in the World

Every so often, we are reminded of perhaps "The Most Important Race You Don't (Often) Hear About". Today just happens to be one of those days. Yes, there was another debate.

And last night in Reno, Greg Brower (R) and Sheila Leslie (D) traded barbs on a number of topics, such as mining taxes and overall tax fairness.

Leslie painted Brower as a conservative Republican beholden to tea party interests. She said he was against extending taxes that were set to expire in 2011 to balance the budget and now supports extending them.

“When he went to the session in 2011 and started running for Congress, that’s when he became a tea party Republican,” Leslie said.

Leslie repeated her call for a form of corporate tax throughout the debate and advocated for getting rid of the modified business tax and lowering the sales tax. She added the state’s mining industry is not paying its fair share.

“Even Sarah Palin in Alaska knew better, she taxed oil,” Leslie said. “We need to tax the natural resources we have, and that’s mining.”

Brower said the state’s mining industry is paying its fair share and that any corporate tax could be bad for job creation. He agreed there should be tax reform that should be bipartisan.

“The last thing we need to do as a state is do anything that would jeopardize job creation and investment,” Brower said.

He noted Leslie voted for the modified business tax in 2003. Leslie, in turn, said she voted for the 2003 tax because it was a bipartisan solution at the time of a major financial crisis for the state.

Notice something strange here? I do. First, Greg Brower slammed the idea of progressive tax reform. Then, he said any tax reform should be done in a bipartisan manner. Yet from there, he criticized Sheila Leslie for voting for the bipartisan 2003 tax deal that was crafted by a group of REPUBLICAN legislators as an alternative to REPUBLICAN Governor Kenny Guinn's original tax plan! Wait, how does this even make sense? How can Greg Brower claim he wants "bipartisan solutions" on tax reform, claim he wants "balance" in the Legislature, then castigate Sheila Leslie for agreeing to compromise with the Republicans who had to compromise with each other (!!!) in order to reach a deal on taxes and the state budget?

This is a big reminder for voters in Reno's SD 15 that they indeed have an extremely important choice to make. Even though this may be Bill Raggio's old seat, Greg Brower isn't actually playing by Raggio's playbook of consensus building. Rather, he's pretty much doing what Michael Roberson tells him to do... Which is more or less a slightly modified version of the typical G-O-TEA agenda of attacking workers' rights, privatizing everything in sight, and pumping out more bailouts for billionaires (while sticking working class taxpayers with the bill).

This is why Roberson and his G-O-TEA buddies have spent so much on Brower's behalf. And this is why they fear a Leslie victory here. This is something voters in SD 15 should keep in mind. The decision they make may truly have a strong and lasting impact on our state.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nevada Democrats Finish with 7.17% Voter Registration Lead

Yes, you read the headline correctly. The final voter registration report is here. And here's what's in it:

- Statewide, Nevada Democrats now have a 90,187 raw vote advantage. And yes, that makes for a 7.17% advantage. Back in March, Democrats only had about a 4% statewide edge. And it was even smaller earlier this year.

- In Washoe County, Republicans' voter registration edge has narrowed even further. It's now a mere 1,169 raw votes, or 0.005%. In March, Republicans had a 1.76% edge.

- In Clark County, Democrats are closing with a 127,471 raw vote lead, or a 14.96% advantage. In March, Democrats had an 11.68% advantage countywide.

- In NV-03, Democrats are closing with a 7,066 raw vote lead, or a 2.11% edge. In March, Republicans actually had a tiny 0.01% edge.

- In NV-04, Democrats are closing with a 41,094 raw vote lead, or a 13.27% advantage. In March, Democrats had a 9.91% advantage.

- There are also some eye popping numbers in the key State Senate Districts which will determine control of the Nevada Legislature next year. In the Henderson-Green Valley based SD 5, Democrats have gone from a mere 3.92% registration edge in March to a 5.38% lead now. In the Las Vegas-Summerlin based SD 6, Democrats have gone from a 4.36% advantage in March to a 7.12% lead now. In the Southwest Vegas Valley based SD 9, Democrats have risen from a 4.86% lead in March to an 8.10% advantage now. In the West Reno based SD 15, Republicans have gone from a 2.04% edge in March to a tiny 0.01% edge now. And in the Northwest Las Vegas based SD 18, Republicans have fallen from a 2.39% advantage in March to a tiny 0.01% edge now.

So clearly, all of Nevada Democrats' hard work in the field paid off considerably. Now, it's all about turnout. And there's already been quite a lot of work to prepare for that.

NV-04: From Delusional to Shameless & Hypocritical

So today, it happened. It finally happened. Why am I not surprised?

Danny Tarkanian finds himself in the hot seat yet again. And this time, it's over "funny money" he's been loaning to his own campaigns.

The Nevada Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against Republican congressional hopeful Danny Tarkanian.

The complaint filed Thursday questions Tarkanian’s legal standing to forgive a $250,000 loan he made to his failed 2010 U.S. Senate campaign after a judge signed a $17 million judgment against him.

It also questions the legality of other transactions, including a subsequent $40,000 loan made to his U.S. House campaign.

Democrats allege the GOP nominee for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District lacked legal control over his personal funds after a federal judge in May signed the judgment against Tarkanian and other members of his family stemming from a failed real estate deal.

On Monday, we discussed Danny Tarkanian's inability to take responsibility for his own actions. And we're seeing this on full display yet again today. Even though he's been spending the past two tears facing a $17,000,000 (!!!) FDIC judgment over a shoddy plan to develop am "equestrian resort" 35 miles from Palm Springs, CA, Baby Tark keeps pretending that this is "no big deal" and he can keep behaving as if it doesn't exist.

But here's the problem: It does exist. And Baby Tark just can't wave a magic wand to make this $17,000,000 judgment go away.

Earlier this month, The Sun's Patrick Coolican pointed out the eye popping reality of what happened.

As my former colleague Michael Mishak reported during Tarkanian’s failed 2010 Senate bid, Tarkanian was approached by a friend and business partner in 2007 to invest in Dignitary Downs, an “equestrian destination resort” in Anza, Calif., complete with a 200-room hotel, restaurant and jockey school.

The Tarkanian family company, Diamond Properties, would play the role of “hard money lender.” It would borrow money from La Jolla Bank, using its own property as collateral, and then lend it to the developer at high interest. This was faddish during the boom, especially for “unconventional” development schemes —such as, say, a horse resort — that couldn’t get regular financing.

Tarkanian personally guaranteed the loan from La Jolla Bank, which means he was on the hook. He used a nearly 9-acre undeveloped parcel near the M Resort as collateral. Needless to say, it’s worth a fraction of what it was in 2007.

Horse resort ... Anza, Calif. ... hard money loan ...2007 ... La Jolla Bank: This is a thickly stacked failure sandwich.

Almost immediately, the developer went into default. Sadly, there would be no horse resort after all.

Meanwhile, La Jolla Bank failed and was seized by the FDIC, the independent government entity that insures depositors and supervises the soundness of banks, managing them when they fail.

And once La Jolla Bank was seized by the FDIC, Danny Tarkanian was then required to pay back the $17 million he borrowed in order to invest in a (supposedly) soon to be developed "horse resort" 35 miles away from Palm Springs. But so far instead of owning up to this EPIC FAIL of a development scheme, Tarkanian keeps running away and pretending like it doesn't exist.

Seriously, is this the kind of person Nevada wants to send to Congress? Coolican asked that earlier this month, Harry Reid asked it earlier this week, and I have to ask it now. If Danny Tarkanian refuses to take responsibility for his own development debacle, how can he be responsible with the entire budget of the federal government?

What makes this disgusting is seeing how Baby Tark and his teabagger buddies have been attacking Steven Horsford for his family's past tragedies. Yet while Tarkanian and the G-O-TEA attack Horsford, they keep conjuring up more excuses for the $17,000,000 FDIC hot mess. They must truly have no shame.

Another Surprise from Mark Mellman

Hot on the heels of yesterday's NV-Sen poll from Mark Mellman showing Shelley Berkley holding onto a 3% lead, Mellman is at it again with another stunning poll.

President Obama leads 51-43 in Nevada, according to a Mark Mellman poll taken this week for Americans United for Change.

AUFC is a liberal, union-funded group, which may give GOP folks ammunition. But Mellman has a good track record here.

Again, Mark Mellman was one of the ONLY pollsters, public or private, to correctly call the winner (Harry Reid) and the margin (just over 5%) in the 2010 NV-Sen race. When Mellman speaks, everyone must listen.

Oh, and here are some more reasons why everyone should listen to this. First off, Nevada has over 7.1% more registered Democrats than Republicans. Secondly, Nevada Democrats have been working incredibly hard in the field to prepare for a strong GOTV ("get out the vote") finish. And finally, Nevada's changing demographics are reshaping the electorate in ways that truly frighten the now "tea party" controlled Nevada GOP.

This is why, now more than ever before, Nevada is poised to remain a Blue State this fall. Early voting begins tomorrow, and by next week we'll get a fuller sense of what's actually happening. But certainly even now, President Obama must be liking his chances here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another NPRI #FAIL for Today

Here's something I almost missed in today's Las Vegas Sun. Guess who opposes the Henderson Library initiative?

Oh, yes. That's right. They're back!

Victor Joecks, communications director for NRPI, a local libertarian think tank, said tax proponents are being sensationalist and he believes the libraries are relatively healthy given the current state of the economy.

“It’s not this all-or-nothing proposition that’s being put out there,” Joecks said. “The system has grown very healthfully, faster than population growth would dictate. They take the high-water mark for funding, then say they have been cut so much from that high-water mark and now we need a tax increase. ... The library system is doing very well. This is a choice between growing at a rapid rate or an exorbitant rate.”

The library district is independent from the city of Henderson, and the majority of its $7 million budget comes from property taxes. The district’s prerecession funding high was approximately $10 million. The district expects property values to continue to slide in the next few years, further decreasing its funding. It argues the Galleria and Malcolm library branches will be shuttered if the tax initiative, which would raise property taxes by 2 cents per $100 in assessed value, does not pass.

Thomas Fay, Henderson Library District executive director, said efficiencies have been exhausted. The library has cut hours numerous times, and at the beginning of October, district libraries started closing on Mondays. The number of full-time equivalent staff hit a high of 101 in 2009, just after the district reopened a renovated Green Valley branch that had been transferred in 2005 from the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. In fiscal 2011, the Henderson district had the equivalent of 86.5 full-time employees. Fay said staff from Malcolm and Galleria branches have been finding new jobs amid the uncertainty, and the total staff currently stands at the equivalent of 77.5 full-time employees. He is holding off on hiring anyone until after the tax initiative vote.

If the initiative is approved, the district is estimating a revenue boost of approximately $1.5 million in the first year of collection, fiscal 2013-2014.

“This doesn’t fix everything,” Fay said. “We’ve lost $2.5 million, heading toward $3 million, a year. We feel we have put in a lot of efficiencies, and this is just enough to get us through the next 10 years.”

Clearly, the dittoheads at NPRI don't know shit. After all, they're the ones who are working to defeat the bipartisan school bond initiative just to make an ideological point. Have they even been to any of the Henderson Libraries lately?

I have. And I have seen with my own two eyes how one of them has fallen into disrepair.

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And I have experienced firsthand the shortened business hours, ongoing staff cuts, and other effects of recent budget cuts at the Henderson Libraries. If the initiative fails, not only will there be more cuts, but entire libraries will close! Clearly, the "tea party" dittoheads at NPRI are so trapped in their narrow ideological fantasy-land that they can't discuss the dire straits of our local libraries here in the real world.

The Henderson Library District is just asking for $7 per $100,000 in property value per year. That's it. And that's just to maintain what it now has. Seriously, this is what NPRI is attacking.

And this is why no rational human being should take NPRI seriously.

NV-Sen: Maybe "Newspaper" Can't Save Heller?

Another day, another crazy "newspaper poll". Today, the "newspaper" is claiming Dean Heller has taken a 6% lead overall in the Senate race... And that he's doing so because he's supposedly leading (??!!) among Latino voters and is running close in Clark County. Come on, now. You know what's coming next.

Here's what Ralston says.

"Newspaper" shows Heller up 6. Also: He's winning Latinos by 8, indies by 25 and close in Clark. Welcome 2 fantasyland:

And here's what I say. Again, most public pollsters have a bad habit of undersampling likely Democratic voters. And in particular, Survey USA (the company the "newspaper" now uses for polling) is notorious for paying no interest whatsoever in ensuring it has the proper demographics. There's really no reason to whip into a fury over lousy polls.

It seems like Shelley Berkley herself is not. Instead, yesterday she met with The Las Vegas Sun editorial board to discuss why she believes she has what it takes to serve as one of Nevada's US Senators.

Berkley also took Heller to task for supporting a Republican-backed budget that would reconfigure Medicare, turning the program into a subsidy that Democrats have charged is a voucher program for anyone under age 55.

“That’s not Medicare,” Berkley said. “It’s some version of health care for older Americans, but it’s not Medicare.”

Heller, who has not responded to invitations to address the Sun’s editorial board, has said he was proud of his two votes for the budget in question, commonly referred to as the “Ryan budget” after the congressman and now-vice presidential candidate who wrote it. He has also argued that the changes to Medicare within it are necessary to the long-term sustainability of the program, and do not upset the fundamental object and purpose of the Medicare program.

Berkley listed her positions on energy development (she’s in favor of investing in renewables), small business (she wants to keep their taxes low) and tourism promotion (she wants more visa waivers and travel tax credits) as her biggest selling points for improving the economy in Nevada. [...]

On immigration, Berkley repeated that she would not vote in favor of a compromise bill that did not include a pathway to citizenship for certain undocumented immigrants.

There you have it. This is honestly another big reason why I doubt Heller is doing all that well here in Southern Nevada. He doesn't even want to meet with the editoral board of the one legitimate newspaper in this town! In addition, he's been skipping candidate forums and other opportunities for Clark County voters to meet him. And, of course, he's been struggling as of late to hide his "tea party" sympathies from voters.

Remember this. It's far more insightful than what we're seeing in that other "newspaper" today.

11:00 AM UPDATE:

Here's what Ralston just caught.

I'm not surprised the Shelley Berkley campaign folks decided to release their internals with the "newspaper" (Sen. Dean Heller plus 6) and Rasmussen Reports (Heller plus 7) polls released today.

Neither of those surveys has been close to accurate in Nevada -- although perhaps 2012 will be the exception -- and Mellman nailed the 2010 race. He has Berkley, for whom he is working, up 3. [...]

All about turnout now and Mellman's models are as good as they get in Nevada.

Yep, yep, yep. The top lines are 41% Berkley (D) & 38% Heller (R) with 5% for the IAP candidate and 11% undecided. While I suspect the IAP candidate may not actually get that high of a vote count come November 6, on the other hand we're talking about a Mark Mellman poll here. He nailed the NV-Sen 2010 results when almost every other pollster choked. This shouldn't be taken lightly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Should Be Good Day for Joe Biden in Reno

Today, Joe Biden will be campaigning in Reno. Hot off the heels of both his own debate with Paul Ryan and last night's Presidential Debate, there will be a lot of eyes and a lot of TV cameras descending into Downtown Reno this afternoon.

Oh, and by the way, here's The RGJ's verdict on last night's debate.

“I would say Obama [won the debate],” said Fred Lokken, a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. “Clearly, this was the performance that he needed in the first debate. He came back really strong and solidified his base in the process.” [...]

When the debate Tuesday turned to immigration issues, it sunk Romney’s chances, said Eric Herzik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“Oh, that was the killer,” Herzik said. “Even before the question was asked, Obama had already brought up self-deportation. Obama also brought up that we were a nation of immigrants. And then, when the immigration question was asked, Romney was all over the place trying to answer the question.”

“Essentially, Romney could not walk away from the Republican primaries on this one, where the Republican answer (to immigration) was to build a fence,” Herzik said. “And if that was not enough, electrify it.”

Lokken also saw the immigration question as a turning point. But there were others, he said.

“Obama clearly addressed women, he clearly spoke to immigrants, especially Hispanic-Americans, and he especially reached out and really connected with his ‘47 percent’ issue at the end of the debate,” Lokken said. “Those were the things that the Democrats were looking for in this debate because they were woefully absent in the first debate.”

As we discussed last night, President Obama finally reached his "A Game" and hit Mitt Romney on everything from women's health to foreign affairs to education to immigration and more. Finally, Obama took the offensive on the debate stage and confronted Romney with his own record. It turned out to be quite the powerful performance.

And with early voting starting this Saturday here in Nevada, last night's debate may be the last impression voters have of the candidates... Except, of course, if they plan to see Joe Biden in person today in Reno or tomorrow in Las Vegas. I'm sure Biden will be smiling quite a bit during his visit to Nevada.

NV-03/NV-04: Richard Ziser Strikes Yet Again!

He's back! If you thought we were finally done with him, then you're about to be proven wrong. Richard Ziser is back in full force this election season. And in fact, he has a brand new "Values Voter Guide" to prove it. And yes, there are some truly scary answers in there...Thanks to Joe Heck and Danny Tarkanian!

Let's see what's in it:

- Both Heck & Tarkanian want to reinstate "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and discrimination against LGBTQ servicemembers in the military.

- Both Heck & Tarkanian oppose ENDA, meaning they approve of workplace discrimination against LGBTQ workers.

- Both Heck & Tarkanian oppose marriage equality and the repeal of DOMA, meaning their talk of "state's rights" is hogwash and they want the federal government to tell states and communities which relationships deserve respect & which don't (such as gay & lesbian couples).

- Both Heck & Tarkanian support defunding Planned Parenthood and all the women's (and men's, too!) health care services they provide.

- And both Heck & Tarkanian oppose comprehensive immigration reform.

Well, now we know why both candidates missed Las Vegas Pride last month. And we know why Joe Heck doesn't like to talk about LGBTQ issues. And we know why Danny Tarkanian doesn't like to talk about immigration reform. And we now know why both Heck & Tarkanian are afraid to talk about women's health.

We now know Richard Ziser loves them both. And that's downright scary for a whole lot of Nevadans.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Thoughts on Third Debate

Phew! After the first debate, there was plenty of sturm und drang... And angst and moaning and groaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Well, tonight was different. Kevin Drum explains.

For my money, the worst moment of the night for Romney came on Libya. He hauled out a stale conservative talking point about Obama not calling the Benghazi attack an act of terror, and when he confronted Obama about it, Obama just smiled and let him hang. Unexpectedly, this flustered Romney. Then, a few seconds later, Candy Crowley interrupted to confirm that Obama did, in fact, call it a terror attack the very next day. That really flustered Romney. This is the kind of segment that ends up getting repeated on cable news over and over and over.

Obama had a pretty good line early on about Romney's economic views: "Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan." That one point, of course, is looking out for the interests of the rich. I wish Obama had had a chance to hammer that a little harder, but it never really came up.

Romney has talked before about the idea of capping deductions rather than eliminating them, but this was by far the most public forum in which he's mentioned it. For all practical purposes, I think that makes this the official Romney position: A 20% across-the-board rate cut paired with a $25,000 maximum for itemized deductions. The math on that comes nowhere close to working, though, and it's pretty easy to prove it. I wonder how long it will be before the Romney campaign backpedals on this?

Obama did a good job of hitting Romney on his tax plan, taking it slowly and all but accusing him of deliberately trying to deceive middle-class voters. It's hard to know if this made a dent, though. Too many numbers just puts people to sleep.

Oddly enough, I think both candidates did better tonight than two weeks ago. Obama was, obviously, way better. I'd give him an A-. But Romney was better too. I'd probably give him a good B, maybe even a B+ if I were feeling generous. I don't know how much the first debate really affected the polls, but if it did, this one ought to correct at least some of the damage.

I pretty much have to agree. President Obama was definitely on his A game tonight. While Mitt Romney was also fairly solid in his style, there was finally more attention paid to his shoddy substance.

And perhaps what was most painful for Romney was the removal of the "Moderate Mitt" mask which Romney used so well two weeks ago. Tonight, President Obama was finally able to confront Romney on his delicate dance with the teabaggers, and his current effort to make voters forget about it. Whether on women's health, the 47% versus the 99% (economic justice), Middle East policy, or gun safety, President Obama finally managed to "connect the dots" and point out what Mitt Romney has really been running on.

Tonight may have truly been a "game change" in that President Obama got his groove back... And blunted "Mitt-mentum" for good.

Democrats Top 7% Voter Registration Advantage Statewide

Ralston broke the news just moments ago. Nevada Democrats almost hit the magic 90,000 mark in raw vote lead today... And the count is not over quite yet!

Here's where we stand now:

- Statewide, the exact Democratic registration lead is 89,605, or 7.15%. In last Friday's statewide report, it stood at 6.93%.

- In Washoe County (Reno-Sparks Metro), Republicans have gone from a 0.68% (or 1,620 raw vote) edge to a mere 0.005% barely there edge (!!!), or 1,172 raw votes.

- And as noted yesterday, Democrats are nearing a very healthy 15% registration advantage in Clark County (Metro Las Vegas).

So it's virtually guaranteed that Nevada Democrats will finish with a voter registration advantage of over 7% and 90,000 raw votes. To further put things into perspective, Nevada Democrats had about 100,000 more voters than Republicans at the end of registration in 2008, and about 60,000 more voters at the end of registration in 2010. Now, it's all about the ground game.

Oh, and by the way, here's what Ralston had to say about that.


@RalstonReports on MSNBC: comparing D and R ground game in NV is like comparing "a Ferrari to a Matchbox car." yourmetaphorsmatter

Retweeted by Jon Ralston 8:41am - 15 Oct 12

Need I say more?

NV-Sen: One More Serving of "Moderate" Baloney

This week's debate on "Ralston Reports" marks the final NV-Sen debate of the year. And like previous debates, he tried to sound "moderate" at first. But then, something interesting happened : He started to let his G-O-TEA self shine through.

This has been an ongoing struggle for Dean Heller. He occasionally sends signals, such as cheaply produced letters to registered Democrats and (far more expensive) glitzy TV ads with Brian Sandoval, suggesting he's truly a "moderate consensus builder". However, the problem for Heller is that his own record tells a different story.

Oh, and keep this in mind as well.

The latest flyer in my mail box encourages me to vote for Senator By Appointment Only® Dean Heller in the Nevada senate race because he opposes Obamacare. The Faith and Freedom Coalition of Duluth, GA assures me that Senator Heller would “repeal Obamacare.” I’m not surprised, after all this is Jack Abramoff’s former buddy Ralph Reed’s outfit — he, the refuge from the defunct Christian Coalition, would like me to believe that his Koch Brothers financed FFC has my lily-white interests at heart.

After all, nothing screams "MODERATE!!!" like taking help from an associate of an ex-convict and ex-lobbyist known for marrying the radical religious right with the "Tea Party, Inc." corporate right.

Keep this all in mind next time Heller wants to talk up his "moderate" credentials.

Astroturf for (G-O-TEA) Politicians

Ah, whatever would we do without the extraordinary astroturfers at "Americans for Prosperity" (AFP)? They keep finding new ways to embarrass themselves. First, they launched #BusWreck2012.

Then, the fine folks at this supposed "charitable foundation" let slip their violation of state election law in failing to disclose their campaign expenditures in a (DEMOCRATIC State Senate??!!) primary. Since then, AFP Nevada has been taking a turn for the absurd by opposing efforts to put our state back to work by investing in renewable energy. They have even offered cheap gas in order to play political games.

And now, it looks like the fine folks at the "educational charity" nearest and dearest to Koch Industries are ready to close the election with quite the big bang!

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Yes, this is the "tea party" indoctrination concert we've all been waiting for! And they've been taking to the streets to let everyone know. They've also been carpetbombing visiting neighborhoods to leave this important message.

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Yes, the "charitable foundation" working on "issues education" has been doing this. It's dumping doorhangers with scary looking images of President Obama and Shelley Berkley, strange PhotoShop moments, even stranger complaints about rental car fees, lies about Keystone XL, and other ridiculous nonsense. Really, is there anything about AFP that makes sense?

With three weeks left until the final ballots are cast, this "charitable foundation" supposedly focused on "issues education" is preparing one last blitz of ads, events, and other gimmicks designed to distract and mislead. But over time, AFP's "grassroots" have been exposed as astroturf. And the only real "charity" involved is the one meant to help Nevada Republicans.

Monday, October 15, 2012

NV-04: From Delusions of Grandeur to Revolting "Humor"

Yesterday, we saw another NV-04 debate.

Horsford, a Democrat and the majority leader of the Nevada Senate, emphasized his record as a job creator who has been able to help the state cut the budget. One of Tarkanian’s prevailing themes was what he’d do to help protect the American taxpayer.

Neither candidate delved too deeply into social issues, although Beckerman asked them about their stances on birth control and the morning-after pill.

Horsford said he supports a woman’s right to choose; Tarkanian said he respects people who have opposite opinions on the topic.

When Beckerman asked about Medicare, both candidates said they would defend the services the program provides.

“I don’t believe that we should allow our parents and grandparents to be out on their own,” Horsford said. "A voucher says, ‘Here’s a set amount of money for you to go out and meet your health care needs. Above that, you’re on your own,’ ”

Tarkanian said he would not cut benefits to seniors but has advocated presidential running mate Paul Ryan’s plan.

Like the previous debate, Danny Tarkanian tried to tap dance away from the actual issues at hand. Of course, this is pretty much Danny Tarkanian's entire MO. He pretends he "wants to talk about the real issues at hand", but his campaign is actually most comfortable toying with "the darker side of identity politics".

So today, none other than Harry Reid himself spoke up and called out what should be obvious about this race.

Tarkanian and his family are subject to a $17 million judgment to pay the Federal Deposit Insurance Company in the wake of a collapsed real estate deal.

“So simply, voters need to understand this,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters. “Wouldn’t it be kind of embarrassing to the state of Nevada to have somebody back there with a $17 million judgment against them? A judgment by the federal government?” [...]

Last week, the FDIC moved to begin seizing the Tarkanian family’s Nevada assets to put toward the $17 million judgment after his lawyer failed to file an opposition in time. Tarkanian’s lawyer has since filed that opposition and an Oct. 22 hearing is scheduled on the matter.

Tarkanian claims he and his family are the victims of fraud in the deal to develop an “equestrian destination resort” in Southern California. They borrowed money from La Jolla Bank to lend to the developer, using their own personal property as collateral for the bank loan.

But then the developer went broke and the bank collapsed, leaving the Tarkanian family responsible for paying the FDIC back.

Tarkanian denies he will be forced into bankruptcy prior to the election, noting he’s pursuing all legal means to appeal the judgment. But he acknowledged the possibility exists after the election, for both himself and his family members who were part of the deal.

He's liable for $17 million (!!!) in a FDIC judgment. He can't give a real answer to any of the real questions on the important real issues of the day. He's still awfully beholden to "tea party" extremists. And he's trying the ugliest and most desperate kind of "campaign tactics" to win. And we're really supposed to offer some kind of respect and gravitas to Danny Tarkanian?

This is way beyond mere "delusions of grandeur". In some ways, what's happening in NV-04 right now is downright revolting.