With Nevada early voting underway, Mitt Romney understands he is running out of time to swing Nevada in his favor. However, a win in Nevada is turning out to be a harder task than the Presidential hopeful may have wished as in the first weekend of early voting, registered Democrats accounted for over half the voters who cast a ballot. Despite at best only tying with the President in the polls and currently lagging behind by two points, the Romney campaign is not slowing down. In fact, on October 23 Romney and VP Candidate Paul Ryan took the stage for the first time together in Nevada and gave a positive, upbeat and hopeful speech to a group of 6,000 in Henderson. Let’s take a close look at what they said and how Nevada is reacting.
What They Said:
During this speech Mitt Romney tried to energize supporters by pointing out that the debates have “super charged” the campaign. After urging the crowd to take advantage of early voting, he brought the conversation back to where he has been focusing much of his campaign, the economy. Nevada’s economy has severely struggled since 2008 and Mitt Romney promised to help fix this situation. Ryan introduced Romney as a “job creator” and asked the crowd, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job creator in the White House? We only have to wait for two more weeks.” Romney, obviously aware of the polls, was not shy in asking his supporters to campaign on his behalf, “I need you to find a neighbor that voted for Barack Obama last time.”
Romney continued to speak to Nevada’s volatile economy when he said to the audience, “Can you afford four more years with 23 million Americans looking for a good job? How about four years where at the end of which we get Nevada unemployment down to 6 percent or lower?” Romney pledged to be the better candidate for Nevadans hoping to see an increase in housing prices and a decrease in the cost of gas, as well as all seniors on Medicare and anyone with health insurance. He also went through his five point economic plan and spoke of Obamacare, tax plans, small business and the role of energy in the economy. Romney’s message in Henderson was that the country’s sluggish economic recovery was the fault of President Obama and that, as President, Romney would be able to reverse much of this damage.
In an economy struggling for jobs, a promise of unemployment under 6 percent is a big promise. Many economists in Nevada are extremely skeptical of how realistic this promise made by Romney actually is for that state.
Bill Robinson, economist at University of Las Vegas, was quoted quickly after Romney’s speech that Nevada’s unemployment will not go below 6 percent. He is basing his conclusion off of the boom and bust of the last recession. During the boom, Nevada had twice as many construction workers as a percentage of their total workforce as the national average. He estimates that half of Nevada’s unemployment can be attributed to the depression in the construction sector. Robinson said, “We were set up to benefit more from the housing boom than most places, and as result, we were set to fall further.” He added that many moved to Nevada before the recession because there was a perception that there were plenty of well paying jobs. This migration then in turn created a demand for construction. However, this demand was not real and people came to town needing homes and as Robinson said, “bought four because they figured they could turn them.” Due to the fact that there is no longer a promise of plentiful jobs to draw people to Nevada, construction demand is unlikely to reach pre- recession levels for many, many years, if ever. Without a demand for construction in the state, Nevada’s unemployment will remain high unless job-seeking construction workers migrate to other states or find work in other industries.
Polls in the next few days will tell whether or not Nevada voters believe Romney’s unemployment promise or whether they are more willing to listen to the economists who study employment trends in the state. Either way, Romney and Ryan are definitely still in it for the win in Nevada and their focus and efforts will surely lead to an exciting final two weeks in the Presidential Election in the Silver State.