Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

What Nevada Voters Missed During the Debate

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During last week’s debate President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney spent a large amount of time deliberating over the best forms of taxes and healthcare. While these were worthwhile and necessary conversations, many voters in the West felt like the debate skipped over issues that really matter to them. While it is a valid point that debates are really the final stretch of a campaign cycle and politicians should spend the majority of their time driving home messages they have been framing all year – this first debate was held in the West for a reason. The West is filled with swing states like Nevada whose electorate is much less predictable than four years ago.


Let’s look at which Western issues the candidates skipped over last week…


  • Nevada’s electorate is 14 percent Latino. While this group does not rank immigration as their top issue – a candidate’s stance still tends to be a deal breaker.
  • 48 hours before the debate, Romney told the Denver Post that he would honor Obama’s pledge to undocumented youth’s if elected President. This summer, Obama instituted two-year deferments of deportation proceedings and authorized work permits for young people who entered the U.S. before age 16 and enrolled in college or the military. However, this new stance of Romney’s did not come up in the debate last week. This would have been wise for Romney to bring into the conversation, as immigration is a large roadblock between him and many Latino voters.


Romney’s capping of income taxes

  • In the same interview with the Denver Post, Romney also said that he was considering capping itemized income tax deductions at $17,000 a threshold that could adversely affect certain middle class families accustomed to being exempted from taxes on employer-provided health care and their mortgage interest. However, during the debate, Romney spoke of different cap numbers around $25,000 and $50,000 that would only adversely affect the wealthy.
  • During the debate, neither Romney nor Obama had to clarify their positions on health care or mortgage interest deductions. This is an issue that hits close to home for many in the Nevada electorate as the Nevada housing market has been severely struggling ever since the housing crisis of 2008.


These are indeed issues that will affect Nevada voters in the next four years and if mentioned in the next debate, could have a serious impact on undecided voters in the state. So, will swing states in the West get what they want out of the October 16 debate? The debate is supposed to focus on domestic and foreign policy, giving the candidates one more chance to appeal to voters in the Silver State. If Romney does decide to elaborate on his supposed position to honor Obama’s promise to undocumented youth’s in the next debate – this could be just the push Romney needs to gain the trust of hesitant Latino voters in Nevada and possibly isolate Obama from Western voters whose support has already significantly dwindled since 2008.




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