Nevada rewards Obama’s intense courting

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – For visiting the state 10 times, bringing along political and celebrity surrogates, President Barack Obama was rewarded with Nevada’s six electoral votes, propelling him to a second term.

The intense courtship drew dividends for the president as he beat Republican rival Mitt Romney by more than 60,000 votes.

According to the secretary of state’s office, Obama garnered 529,005 votes or 52.30 percent while Romney captured 462,607 votes or 45.73 percent.

It was smaller than the 12-percentage points win over John McCain in 2008, but enough to provide Obama a key victory in the swing states and put him back in the White House.

“Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” Obama said in his victory speech.

But while the messaging helped Obama, it was the grind-out “ground game” in Nevada and the battleground states that secured the victory.

In Nevada, it was an unexpected victory in Washoe County, where Reno, Nevada’s second largest city is located, that was key to the Obama win.

A traditionally Republican bailiwick, he won there by a razor-sharp 6,000-vote plurality. But with a fire-wall of nearly 100,000 advantage in heavily Democratic Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, it was enough to put him on top.

In all, Obama won in only two of Nevada’s 17 counties, but those were the most populous, with about 90 percent of the state’s 1.2 million registered voters.

Obama visited Las Vegas several times in the months and weeks leading up to Nov. 6. most recently on Nov. 1 for a rally in North Las Vegas.

On the other hand, Romney last visited Nevada on Oct. 24, although vice-presidential candidate and other surrogates came days before Tuesday.

In total, President Obama visited Nevada 10 times this year.

When Obama himself wasn’t campaigning, he called upon some political and entertainment supporters to urge support for him.

Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Springs Preserve in early October, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke to union workers at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas.

On October 27, Magic Johnson and Kimora Lee Simmons led a rally in Las Vegas’ Chinatown, and were joined by top Asian American and Pacific Islander politicians from California – representatives Mike Honda and Judy Chu.

Pop star Katy Perry and actress Eva Longoria also came with the president to create excitement for campaign workers and supporters.

President Obama also drew strong support from the labor unions and ethnic communities, particularly Latinos and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

In both the registration drives and the get-out-the-vote campaigns on Elections Day, these groups proved instrumental in getting voters to the polls, campaign officials said.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance registered more than 1,000 new voters and provided transportation during the early voting period from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2, and during Election Day.

An improving economy also helped Obama. The state’s September unemployment rate was down by more than two percentage points from 14 percent in October 2010.

CoreLogic data show that Nevada home prices rose 9 percent in August from a year ago, the biggest increase in the campaign’s swing states — those with a recent history of supporting either major party’s presidential nominee.

About 15 percent of Nevada workers were members of a union in 2011, the highest percentage among swing states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A burgeoning Hispanic voting bloc, 27 percent of the state population as of the 2010 census, helped Obama.

Romney was aided by an above-average concentration of Nevadans who share his Mormon faith.

Obama, Romney and their surrogates aired television ads 21,200 times in metropolitan Las Vegas in the 60-day period ended Oct. 29, according to data from Kantar Media’s CMAG, a New York-based political ad tracker. Across the U.S., only Denver stations ran more ads.

The cost of the Nevada campaign was not readily available, but political observers say it could be the most expensive in the state’s political history.

Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at facebook.com/BertEljera

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