How Obama Can Win (Despite a Terrible Economy)

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
July 20 2012 1:59 PM

How Obama Defies Gravity

The battleground fight in Nevada is a window into how the president can win—despite a battered economy.

(Continued from Page 1)

Harry Reid needed more than just a bad opponent, and Obama will too. The growing Hispanic population helps Obama in Nevada perhaps more than any other state. In 2008, 15 percent of the electorate was Hispanic. Nearly 2 million Latinos have turned 18 since then. In national polls, Obama leads Romney by as much as 40 percent among Hispanics.

But turning Hispanic residents into Hispanic voters requires organization. Democrats in Nevada have been perfecting their machine for the last 10 years under Reid's deliberate guidance. The Democrats in every battleground state boast about their team, but the Nevada operation is considered among the best of the best.

The key for any party is building a strong list of supporters and possible supporters so you can target your efforts to the most persuadable and motivated voters. Reid convinced the Democratic Party to move the state's caucus in 2008 to early in the process. That flushed out scores of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to support Obama and Clinton who then went on the list.

Advertisement

If the list is maintained, it gets better with each election as the party adds more information to each person’s record: what issues they care about, what made them vote in previous cycles—a knock on the door, an email, or a phone call—and how much attention they needed to go to the polls. 

Sixty percent of Nevada's voters vote in the two-week window before Election Day. The parties get a daily update of who has voted, so they know who on their list has cast a ballot and who needs more persuasion. In 2010, some Democratic voters got as many as 40 "touches," the term used to describe any type of campaign-to-voter communication. Nevada Republicans are working hard to build their list too, but they haven't been as organized over the last few elections as the Democrats have.

Reid has another incentive to turn out Democrats. The junior senator from Nevada, Republican Dean Heller, is up for re-election. If Reid can help Democrat Shelley Berkley flip that seat into the Democratic column, that would make it harder for Republicans to take control of the Senate. (They need four Democratic seats to steal Reid’s majority leader title.)

Next week both Obama and Romney will be in Reno for the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. Though the topic will be military issues, the economy will surely dominate the political conversation. Like the rest of the country, there are a few encouraging signs even amid the bleakness. Tourism has been up recently and “the spend”—the money tourists drop while visiting—has been improving. Still, the economy isn't set to recover fully until 2017. That would be a year after Obama’s second term. Mitt Romney is hoping Nevadans won’t want to wait that long to give someone else a chance.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.