Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Still a toss up in Nevada with 20 days to go

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One month ago it seemed the Nevada Presidential contest was too close to call. President Obama had a 5 percent lead, but Republicans were campaigning relentlessly as many declared Nevada as a possible “pick off state” given the current state of the local economy.   Former Governor Romney had been closing the gap in the statewide polls in the past few months and as a result gaining serious momentum. It seemed the debates, attack ads and differing campaign narratives might have a large enough impact on Nevada voters to provide a significant bounce in the polls for one candidate or the other. So far, this hasn’t been the case. While both campaigns argue strenuously that this election is about a clear choice of two different visions for the country, Nevada has yet to come to a majority decision on which view to choose.

Although Nevada voters have yet to make a clear choice, there has still been movement in the polls from last month. Currently, Politico shows Obama ahead of Romney 48 to 45 percent.  Although a smaller lead from the month before (50-45), this slim three-point lead has actually been an upward battle for President Obama following his first debate performance on October 3rd. In the days immediately after that first debate, The Huffington Post Election Dashboard, which combines the latest opinion polls using a poll-tracking model updated whenever a new poll is released, showed Obama and Romney as close as 2 percentage points away from one another in Nevada. At one point after the debate a SurveyUSA poll showed Obama leading by only one point. It seems that President Obama now finally has the polls trending back in his favor since his first debate performance. However, there is still much work to be done to secure Nevada.

Lets look at how specific groups in Nevada are polling:

Latino Vote

  • According to a Las Vegas Review Journal poll, Obama leads Romney 52 – 44 percent with the Latino cohort. Other surveys have shown Obama outpolling Romney by much wider margins.
  • This is directionally consistent with national polls, showing Obama ahead of Romney 69 – 21 percent.


Voters 50 +

  • Romney leads Obama 49 – 46 percent.
  • This margin has decreased in the last week. Immediately after the first presidential debate, Romney held the lead with a nine-point margin. Many attribute Obama’s comeback with this group to Vice President Biden’s debate attack on Congressman Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal.




  • Romney holds a significant lead among this group that has been growing since August. Currently, polls show Romney ahead of Obama with independents 52 – 34 percent.
  • The spike in this lead has been attributed to Romney’s successful attacks on Obama’s economic record during the debates. Nevada was hit extremely hard by the recession and this is an issue that is close to home for many Nevada voters.



  • Obama holds the lead with moderates by 53 – 41 percent.
  • This has been a shrinking lead for the President as in the days after the first debate, Obama held a 21 point lead among this group. Similar to Independent voters, it is believed that Romney’s more recent attacks on Obama’s economic record has helped to decrease Obama’s lead among moderate voters.



  • Men favor Romney 49 – 44 percent.
  • Women prefer Obama 52 – 42 percent. This is an important lead for Obama, as his lead among women nationwide seems to be eroding. President Obama won the female vote by a large margin in 2008 and it is crucial to his reelection that he wins the female vote again.


Romney’s recent momentum with independent and moderate voters is key given the Democratic voter registration advantage in Nevada.

As one would expect, the two campaigns are spinning the most recent polls differently. Senior Obama campaign adviser, Robert Gibbs, said President Obama always knew the race would tighten as Election Day drew near, but he believes the President is well positioned to win re-election. “I think we’re in a good spot, not just in Nevada, but in all the battleground states.”

Romney campaign official, Darren Littell, communications director for Team Nevada, said Republicans are pleased that Romney continues to gain support from independents, and they see victory in sight. “The gain in independents is not shocking because they are most likely to swing, and they’ve seen that Governor Romney is not only a plausible alternative to President Obama, but a better alternative,” Littell said.

With 20 days to go, Nevada is definitely still up for grabs by either candidate. In the next 20 days President Obama needs to be sure to excite Democrats in the state to go to the polls on Election Day and capitalize on the Democratic voter advantage. Romney needs to continue to speak to Independents and Moderate in Nevada, in hopes of gaining enough support to balance out the Democratic voter registration advantage.


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