More than $100 million spent on federal races in Nevada

Even in Nevada’s economic doldrums, one industry is alive and well in the Silver State – political advertising.

Thanks to loose campaign finance laws and Nevada’s place as a key presidential battleground, more than $100 million has been spent on federal races in the Silver State, bringing mailboxes stuffed with mailers and televisions crowded with commercials.

“There’s certainly no shortage of money,” said Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have poured a combined $34 million into advertising in Nevada, according to figures compiled by the National Journal.

A handful of heavyweight political action committees and nonprofit groups, including the conservative Crossroads GPS and the liberal Priorities USA Action, have dumped another $24 million into the state for political ad buys, the publication reported.

And out-of-state campaign dollars trickled down the ballot to the state’s most contested congressional races.

In the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Shelley Berkley, more than $27 million in third-party cash has been spent on ads, mailers and phone banks either opposing or supporting the candidates.

The outside spending continued in Southern Nevada’s two tough House races, each of which has seen more than $5 million spent by outside groups. And the more than $37 million in outside spending in Nevada’s congressional races easily outpaces the $26 million all the campaigns have raised for themselves.

To put it in perspective, $5.94 has been spent on political ads for every adult Nevadan, the most in the nation, according to an analysis by National Public Radio.

The next closest was New Hampshire at $5.35. Swing states Ohio and Florida were far behind at $3.21 and $2.63, respectively.

The mind-boggling chunks of campaign cash being spent in Nevada and across the country this year reflect the reality of modern politics, Herzik said.

“It’s not the person with the most money who always wins, but you have to have enough money to be competitive,” he said.

Nevada’s campaign-on-steroids environment can be blamed on a confluence of factors, including the state’s role as a swing state in the presidential and congressional races and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. The ruling opened the financial floodgates by eliminating restrictions on corporate and union campaign donations.

Super PACs were born in the wake of the ruling and, together with 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups, created the conduits for corporations, unions and associations to funnel an unlimited amount of money into politics, sometimes with complete anonymity.

Many of the country’s richest residents and groups have taken advantage of the looser rules, contributing more than $1.2 billion in outside spending to federal races this election cycle compared to $276 million in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

With no caps on individual donations, many of America’s wealthiest people have given millions of dollars to super PACs and other groups to further their political aims.

Topping the list of individual donors is casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, owner of The Venetian and Palazzo. He and his wife, Miriam, have donated more than $52 million to super PACs in support of Romney and other Republicans, more than double the next-closest individual, according to Center for Responsive Politics figures.

Adelson was among the top 172 donors who accounted for 62 percent of the $661 million spent by super PACs, the center reported.

Super PACs and other outside spending groups have streamed millions of those dollars into Nevada.

Conservative groups, including Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads and Restore Our Future, have spent about $19 million on ads, while the liberal Priorities USA Action has spent $3.7 million on ads, according to the National Journal.

Many of those outside spending dollars have landed in the state’s congressional races. Crossroads GPS, for example, has spent $5.6 million on anti-Berkley ads and $1.6 million opposing 4th Congressional District candidate Steven Horsford.

The money spent against Horsford appears to have paid off, said University of Nevada, Las Vegas political science professor David Damore.

Outside groups have spent more than $3.5 million opposing Horsford, more than doubling his campaign war chest of $1.4 million. On the other side, only about $1 million has been spent on anti-Tarkanian ads, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Those anti-Horsford ads ran through the summer and appeared to sway potential voters in the new district, Damore said.

Despite the district’s Democratic voter registration advantage, Horsford trails Republican Danny Tarkanian by 5 percentage points, according to the most recent SurveyUSA poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow.

The Senate and House races have also been pumped up by national political committees, which have doled out a combined $13 million in those contests.

The skyrocketing dollar figures will only grow in the final days of election season as campaigns, parties, PACs and other groups make their last-ditch efforts to win. Final campaign finance numbers won’t be reported until well after Election Day.

“It’s the nature of politics now,” Herzik said of the money. “I don’t see it going away immediately.”

Especially in Nevada, where voters have accurately picked the president in every election but one for the past century. The state’s population concentration also makes it attractive for political advertisers because they can reach 90 percent of the electorate in two markets.

But Herzik and Damore wonder if exorbitant campaign spending will continue if the election doesn’t turn out as big-money donors had hoped.

“If Obama wins and the Democrats hold onto the Senate, then there’s going to be a lot of angry rich people,” Damore said.

High-dollar donors on the losing end will likely evaluate their spending and decide whether it was worth it, the professors said. But Herzik worries they might conclude they didn’t spend enough, which would mean more of the same next election.

And in a TV market already inundated by the most political ads in the nation, Damore said, Las Vegans on both sides of the aisle finally have an issue they can agree on – political advertising.

“There’s bipartisan agreement that people would like to see that go away,” he said.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at or 702-383-0281.

Mojave Poppy Bees
Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list. (Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology)
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like