NEW YORK Nov. 6, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Nevada may be known as the Silver State but winning it has become critical in turning any presidential hopeful’s dreams into gold. The 2016 U.S. election has marked the coming out party for the state as a serious player on the U.S. political stage.
A state that was once treated as an afterthought has seen its influence grow and is finally being given widespread attention as a critical battleground. It is a status that will likely continue in national elections for years to come.
Going back to 1980, Nevada and Ohio are the only states to have voted for the winner of the presidency in 10 consecutive elections. Since 1912, Nevada has voted for the winner every time, with the lone exception of 1976.
It has seen its share of the Electoral College grow in the last 30 years from three to six votes – an unparalleled doubling of influence in such a short space of time. All signs point to that upward trend continuing.
As reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week, the state demographer predicted that if the “major economic projects and developments currently underway are fully realized” there will be a population increase of 425,000 people in 20 years.
This would bring Nevada’s total population from 2.8 million to 3.3 million by 2035 – or an annual growth rate of a more than robust 0.7 per cent – and likely give it at least one more vote in the all-important Electoral College.
Not surprisingly, both the Clinton and Trump teams have made Nevada a regular stop on their campaigns, with either the candidates themselves or their surrogates showing up on a seemingly weekly basis.
What makes the state so appealing to the GOP is that it represents the furthest point west in the contiguous United States where they have an even shot of winning. The Pacific states of California, Oregon and Washington – along with non-continental Hawaii – are Democratic strongholds unlikely to be broken any time soon.
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For the Democrats, Nevada also represents a kind of beachhead moving eastward from the Pacific and allowing it to chip into solid Republican support in the Mountain west as represented by perennial GOP stalwarts like Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Arizona.
Over its voting history, Nevada has shown a willingness to buck the trend of locked-in ideology and be one of the few states to vote for either Republican or Democratic candidates for president in almost equal measure.
What makes Nevada’s situation most fascinating is that all of this influence is heavily contained within what could be referred to as the ‘city-state’ of Las Vegas. Actually, to be accurate, Clark County is the international tourist destination that people mean when they refer to “Las Vegas.” The famed Strip is actually in unincorporated Clark County and lies just to the south of the city of Las Vegas.
Because 75 per cent of the entire state’s population is concentrated in that very small area, it allows for a single locale to have a remarkably disproportionate influence on the nation as a whole. As the county goes, so goes the state and in any close election could decide who occupies the White House.
This is why both Trump and Clinton viewed visits to Las Vegas as a chance to be irresistible cost-effective and time-efficient strategies for gaining state-wide support and tipping the national scale.
That is not something that could be replicated in any other state in the union. That includes Ohio or Florida which each have far more scattered population bases located in several major cities and required multiple in-state visits to different locales.
People will just have to get used to hearing about Nevada in contexts other than slot machines, shrimp cocktails and showgirls. If only Elvis were alive, he’d be swivelling his hips and singing:
Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire!
… Viva Las Vegas!
All hopefuls for president, now and in the foreseeable future, will be singing the same tune.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a U.S. based writer and occasional lawyer. Gavin is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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