Nevada provides a good example to evaluate the future of what presidential contests might look like. The state's citizens are notoriously independent. Visit towns like Ely, Elko, and Tonopah to see exactly why that's the case. Then again, the federal government owns more land in the state than most others, and it is home to the secretive "Area 51." The hispanic population is burgeoning, and service industry jobs have been at the center of the state's poorly functioning economy right now. During the good times, Nevada was booming more than any other state. During the bad times, it went bust like a craps table on The Strip.
Against this backdrop, one might think that Obama would have trouble persuading voters in Nevada that he deserves a second term in office. While Romney has been able to tighten the polls, Obama still maintains an average lead of over 2% in the RCP average. Sean Cary, vice president of Nevada Matters Media, attributes that lead to the amazing organizing that has taken place by the Democratic base by both Obama in 2008 and Harry Reid in 2010. Although he says the machine isn't running as efficiently this year, it is still light years ahead of the Republican organization.
Then again, Republicans down the ticket are showing strong signs of winning their competitive elections. Cary points out that Shelley Berkley has little credibility in her campaign against Dean Heller for the U.S. Senate. "The Dems have badly mismanaged Berkley up north, and they are diverting resources trying to rectify that," Cary said. One week after appearing on a show produced by Eddie Floyd, who owns Nevada Media Matters, Berkley ran a commercial criticizing Heller and his relationship to Floyd that seriously damaged her credibility. Heller responded by calling Berkley the most "corrupt person he's ever met."
Right now, both the Democrats and Republicans are facing challenges in persuading voters to back their candidates. Democrats are facing the possibility of losing to a perennial Republican loser Danny Tarkanian in the new CD4. Republicans are still facing negative perceptions from the Sharron Angle campaign against Harry Reid two years ago. Cary predicts that Obama and Heller will both win the state by 3 points, which just underscores this reality. Nevada might be the best example of the troubles facing both parties heading into the final week of the election.
Editor's Note: Each day, Rob Lee will provide analysis of key swing states leading up to the election. Each of these states are identified as swing states by RealClearPolitics. In addition to the presidential contest, each state also offers an array of competitive Senate and House races that will influence the agenda of the president, whoever emerges victorious next week. Tune back in tomorrow as Virginia is evaluated.