Mobilizing minority voters played a key role in the blue wave that washed over the 2018 midterm election in Nevada, according to a panel of political organizers gathered at UNLV’s Boyd Law School on Tuesday.
To get voters to the polls, canvassers often talked to them about issues before recommending candidates, Make It Work Nevada executive director Erika Washington said.
“Folks want to be heard, and they want to be listened to,” said Washington, whose outreach efforts focused on black voters in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, where Democrat Steve Horsford won. “We spent a lot of time asking, ‘What do you need to make it work? What issues are you facing that’s going to make your family and your livelihood better?’”
One APIA Nevada spokeswoman Maggie Tsai said canvassers with her organization brought political literature written in five languages when they knocked on doors in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. When possible, the organization talked to community members in their native language.
“That was really critical in our strategy of first having the door open,” Tsai said.
Tuesday’s panel, titled Anatomy Of An Election, was hosted by immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice and sponsored by the UNLV Immigration Law Society.
UNLV political science professor David Damore presented research from the 2018 American Election Eve Poll underscoring the increasing importance of the minority vote. In 1994, Nevada’s electorate was 90 percent white; today it is about two-thirds white.
This year, Damore said, Democratic candidates and left-leaning organizations did a much better job than Republicans at campaigning in communities of color.
The American Election Eve Poll found that Democrats’ outreach was rated as well done by about half of Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters, about two-thirds of Latino voters and an even larger percentage of African American voters. No more than a quarter of those racial groups said Republicans did a good job.
“This really matters for marginal voters, those one-to-one contacts, to getting voters who might vote in a presidential election but don’t have a habit of voting in the midterm,” Damore said.
Republican campaign strategist Jeremy Hughes told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he believes Sen. Dean Heller put together a good Hispanic outreach program during his failed re-election campaign.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t do better. We have to do better,” Hughes said. “Every election cycle moving forward, minority voters will make up a larger percentage of the electorate in Nevada, and Republicans must find ways to get our message across.”