A few final thoughts before voting

Tomorrow is Election Day, which means replacing those annoying TV commercials with annoying Christmas commercials. But before we do, a few final thoughts before the voters who haven’t already cast votes head to the polls.

• Early voting? Try early warning! One of the advantages for political strategists in early voting is to be able to see exactly who has voted, and who has yet to vote. That data is extremely valuable, especially to campaigns that have meticulously identified their likely voter supporters. But the overall numbers can also show trends that parties can work to counteract as early voting progresses.

The early voting numbers from this cycle are pretty ugly for Democrats — they’ve been outvoted by more than 23,000 voters statewide, even though there are more than 62,000 active registered Democrats in Nevada than Republicans. Although Republicans only make up 34.6 percent of Nevada’s active voters, they make up 45 percent of the early voting electorate. Democrats only comprise 38 percent of early voters.

But, Democrats now know it. Panic started setting in as the early voting totals mounted, despite a visit by former President Bill Clinton last week, and Vice President Joe Biden this weekend. Labor unions have started last-minute emergency campaigns to save union-friendly candidates such as Rep. Steven Horsford and state Sen. Justin Jones.

Will the foreknowledge of strong Republican turnout and a weak Democratic showing help Nevada Democrats save candidates in key races? Maybe not. But for those candidates on the cusp, it may have made a difference.

• Labor says “meh.” Speaking of organized labor, unions were among those unexcited about the field of Democratic candidates this year. Why? Well, let’s let the Culinary Union’s Yvanna Cancela explain in some quotes from a story by the Review-Journal’s Laura Myers:

“At the state level, we lack a comprehensive vision, as a party, for what’s possible in Nevada,” Cancela said. “It’s been very tough for people to imagine the state being in a better place without that kind of leadership and vision.”

Cancela said that assessment will probably anger Democrats, but she said they didn’t seem to be running on issues important to the party, including Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And she said there doesn’t seem to be any strong Democratic leader in the state — in stark contrast to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is leading Nevada out of the recession.

“That’s why he’s so popular,” Cancela said. “Nevada was hit really bad by the recession. We have someone (in the governor) talking about hope in a tangible way and getting things done.”

“I think after the election there’s going to be a lot of ‘shuda, wuda, cuda’ and finger pointing,” she added.

Sandoval was the only Republican the Culinary endorsed this year. The AFL-CIO backed only Democrats, and skipped the governor’s race, where the party failed to find a top-tier candidate. The token nominee, Bob Goodman, lost the Democratic primary to “none of the above.”

Cancela said the Culinary’s eleventh-hour “emergency” effort for Horsford recognizes his strong support of the union. Horsford ran the Culinary Training Academy for 11 years before he was elected to Congress in 2012, and is “part of the union family,” she said.

Ouch, baby. But also undeniable. Democrats have controlled the state Senate since the 2009 session, and while they’ve produced some good legislation (domestic partner laws, driver authorization cards, the start of an effort to repeal the mining tax cap from the state constitution) the major problems facing the state haven’t gotten appreciably better. In the 2013 session, it was Minority Leader Michael Roberson who was talking a tax plan for education, and Democrats saying nothing in reply.

Roberson may switch titles as a result of tomorrow’s balloting.

In addition, Democrats have angered the union by taking money from longtime union target Station Casinos, a betrayal that did not go unnoticed by the Culinary. “Shameful – @nvdems take $20k from worst violator of labor law in NV history, @stationcasinos in final $ period. Not worth it,” Cancela tweeted this weekend.

Apparently, nobody has told Cancela about Jesse Unruh? Then again, nobody has told Nevada Democrats about Unruh, either.

• Republicans are evolving. It’s interesting that Republican voters are turning out in such big numbers, which will surely help a slate of candidates who are decidedly not the tea party/libertarian wing of the party. There were no fewer than 12 races up and down the ticket in the GOP primary in which more conservative candidates challenged less conservative, establishment types. (That doesn’t count the governor’s race, where moderate Republican Sandoval faced conservative opposition from the lunatic fringe.)

But the establishmentarians won. State Sen. Mark Hutchison defeated hotelier Sue Lowden for the lieutenant governor’s nomination. Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite, defeated TV personality Niger Innis in the 4th Congressional District. State Senate hopefuls Becky Harris and Patricia Farley emerged from competitive primaries. And the minority leaders of the state Senate and the Assembly — Michael Roberson and Pat Hickey, respectively — defeated challengers from the right.

(The only exception to the moderate versus conservative dynamic was in Assembly District 39, where Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, the guy who said he’d vote for the return of slavery if his constituents wanted it, won his race. He’s definitely the conservative in that contest.)

Now, those on the right might say there’s little to energize the base when you nominate mushy moderates over fire-breathing conservatives. But the numbers show Republicans are turning out in droves, even with a governor’s race that will be a slam dunk for the incumbent, and lopsided contests in the lieutenant governor’s race and the 3rd Congressional District. Sure, they may be turning out to defeat the Education Initiative. But the fact remains, the party went with the moderates in the primary, and the voters are coming out in droves in the general.

Could the Jim GibbonsSharron Angle era of Nevada politics be over? Say it ain’t so.

• VOTE! I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: If you are registered to vote, study your sample ballot, get educated about the candidates and make your voice heard tomorrow. Our government — and it belongs to all of us — is what we make it, or re-make it, every election. Don’t miss your chance to have a say.

Then, when the voting is done, tune in to get all the results. I’ll be blogging here at SlashPolitics tomorrow, as well as appearing on the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on 8NewsNow. (We’ll have an election special from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow; apologies to fans of of the No. 1 new show on TV, NCIS: New Orleans, which returns next week!)

I will also be on KNPR-FM 89.5 at 9 a.m. on State of Nevada on Wednesday, comparing notes with my colleague Jon Ralston, and back on 8NewsNow with final thoughts at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Then, tune in to Nevada Week in Review at 7:30 p.m. Friday for a special post-election show guest-hosted by Elizabeth Thompson.

See you then!

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