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VICTOR JOECKS: What Trump needs to do to win Nevada

If Donald Trump wants to maximize his chances of winning Nevada, he needs to encourage Republicans to use mail ballots and early voting.

On Thursday, Emerson released a poll of Nevada showing Trump leading President Joe Biden, 46 percent to 40 percent. If third-party candidates such as Robert Kennedy Jr. are included, Trump’s lead increases, at 44 percent to 34 percent. In both cases, the number of undecided voters is significantly greater than Trump’s lead. The poll also found Trump leads among Hispanic voters 44 percent to 41 percent.

This is an encouraging poll for Trump. In 2020, Biden won Nevada by 2.4 points, so these findings represent a substantial swing. Biden’s low number is especially problematic for him because he’s the incumbent. When current officeholders lose support, undecided voters usually choose the alternative or stay home.

It’s doubtful that Trump will beat Biden among Hispanic voters. But nationally there is evidence that Hispanic voters are moving to Trump and Republicans more generally. Proportionally, Nevada is one of the largest Latino states in the country. If those shifts continue, it will benefit Trump in Nevada.

Nevada’s voter registration numbers continue to trend toward Republicans. In November 2020, Democrats had a 4.6 point advantage, or 87,000 active registered voters. By November 2022, that lead had dropped to 2.7 points, or 52,000 voters. As of the beginning of February, Democrats’ advantage is down to 1.9 points, or just 36,000 voters.

Democrats have long dominated Clark County, but they’re losing ground. In 2020, Democrats had a 11.8 point voter registration advantage in Clark County, or 156,000 voters. Now, their Clark lead is down to 8.1 points, or 112,000 voters.

A majority of Clark County residents are minorities. This suggests Republicans are making gains with Hispanic, black and Asian voters.

If the 2024 election were held under the 2016 rules, Trump would be the favorite here. But it won’t be. Nevada now has universal mail ballots and ballot harvesting. Those are terrible policies and vulnerable to fraud. But they make it much easier for campaigns to turn out voters.

Here’s something to understand. Just by reading this column, you are among the most politically engaged Nevadans. You likely vote in most elections, including those city elections where turnout is 15 percent or so.

Most of your fellow potential voters have to be prodded and pushed to the polls. That’s a lot easier to do with mail ballots and early voting. Those voting methods give campaigns two-plus weeks — instead of a single day — to chase ballots.

Democrats will use those methods. If Trump doesn’t, he’ll hand Democrats a huge logistical advantage. And he appears ready to do just that.

“Mail-in voting is totally corrupt. Get that through your head,” Trump said at a Michigan rally last week.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can make the case for secure elections and urge Republicans to use every legal voting tool at their disposal to win.

Here’s the paradox Trump needs to accept. Embracing mail ballots is the best way to eliminate universal mail voting — and win Nevada.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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