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Blueprint for a “Blue Wave”: Viva Las Vegas

Let me tell you a secret: I live for election results. When county election offices release their official statements of vote, I love to download them and pull out the calculator app on my smartphone to begin crunching numbers.

If you’re still wondering how and why Democrats won so “bigly” here in Nevada, I just crunched some numbers that should help you figure it out. But first, let’s take a drive around Las Vegas so you can get a better lay of the land.

Remember what we found in NV-01? Here’s more proof that urban voters of color turned out in big numbers.
Photo by Andrew Davey

Two weeks ago, we dove deep into the heart of Las Vegas to see how the voters in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District (NV-01) put U.S. Senator-elect Jacky Rosen (D), Governor-elect Steve Sisolak (D), and other statewide Democratic candidates over the top. Today, we’re taking a closer look at Las Vegas’ urban core and pinpointing a few key precincts to better illustrate why the “blue wave” approached tsunami levels here in the Silver State.

To help you follow along, here are the Clark County precinct map, The New York Times’ 2016 election results (by precinct) map, and the full Clark County statement of vote to back up my calculations. In the following precincts, I’ll highlight the results for the Senate race (NV-Sen), the Gubernatorial race (NV-Gov), and the U.S. House races in the districts that cover the Las Vegas Valley (NV-01, NV-03, and NV-04).

Clark Precinct 4605 (Downtown Las Vegas, south of Fremont)

NV-Sen: Rosen 72.72%, Heller 23.58%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 71.82%, Laxalt 22.85%

NV-01: Titus 74.50%, Bentley 22.22%

2018 Turnout: 49.44% of registered voters

2018 was 89.02% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: Clinton 66%, Trump 28%

Clark Precinct 4536 (Home to the world-famous East Las Vegas Cardenas)

NV-Sen: Rosen 77.87%, Heller 17.14%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 73.68%, Laxalt 18.22%

NV-01: Titus 79.78%, Bentley 16.92%

2018 Turnout: 49.12% of registered voters

2018 was 78.23% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: Clinton 76%, Trump 20%

Precinct 4605 lies within the burgeoning “hipster haven” of Downtown Las Vegas, while 4536 is smack dab in the middle of Latinx-heavy East Las Vegas and houses the Cardenas where locals vote early every two years. What I find incredibly fascinating is that not only did Jacky Rosen surpass Hillary Clinton’s already hefty 2016 margins in these neighborhoods, she also did so while attaining almost as many votes as Clinton did in a presidential election.

And no, these are not isolated incidents. To offer further proof, let’s move over to Precinct 4461 in the core of West Las Vegas, the historic heart of Southern Nevada’s African-American community. While 4461 lies in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District (NV-04), it’s still considered part of Vegas’ urban core.

Clark Precinct 4461 (West Las Vegas Pearson Center)

NV-Sen: Rosen 88.89%, Heller 6.52%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 88.05%, Laxalt 5.90%

NV-04: Horsford 90.59%, Hardy 5.59%

2018 Turnout: 40.24% of registered voters

2018 was 79.24% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: Clinton 89%, Trump 7%

Keep in mind that overall voter turnout in urban core precincts tends to lag that of the generally whiter and more affluent suburbs, and that disparity is usually even greater in non-presidential years. While overall turnout still appears low at first glance, the fact that 2018 turnout in these neighborhoods topped 75% of 2016 turnout turned out to be a huge boon for Rosen, Sisolak, and Rep.-elect Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) in NV-04.

But wait, there’s more: Let’s examine the curious case of the Vegas suburbs.
Photo by Andrew Davey

Speaking of the suburbs, that’s been the other major takeaway of the 2018 election thus far: The suburbs swung heavily toward Democrats, thanks to President Donald Trump dragging down the Republican brand among college-educated professionals. When we take a closer look at the suburbs that comprise much of the 4th Congressional District and nearly all of the 3rd Congressional District (NV-03), we get a better sense of why Nevada Republicans fared so poorly this year.

Clark Precinct 3365 (TPC Summerlin)

NV-Sen: Rosen 45.16%, Heller 53.23%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 47.04%, Laxalt 50.63%

NV-04: Horsford 46.11%, Hardy 51.54%

2018 Turnout: 66.27% of registered voters

2018 was 77.29% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: 47% Clinton, 49% Trump

Clark Precinct 3706 (Northwest Las Vegas – Providence)

NV-Sen: Rosen 56.52%, Heller 40.05%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 56.05%, Laxalt 40.44%

NV-04: Horsford 55.74%, Hardy 40.17%

2018 Turnout: 63.34% of registered voters

2018 was 60% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: Clinton 46%, Trump 46%

Precinct 3365 lies along the famed TPC Summerlin golf club and has some of the priciest real estate in the entire state, while 3706 is part of Providence, one of the newest master-planned communities in the valley. Traditionally, these are the precincts where Republicans must run up the score in order to win statewide.

Though U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R), Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), and former Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Bunkerville) did improve upon Donald Trump’s woeful underperformance on these links, they still fell short of where Republicans usually land when they tee off here. And in the great Northwest Las Vegas expanse of Providence, Rosen, Sisolak, and Horsford all ran well ahead of Clinton’s already decent showing here.

Clark Precinct 6752 (Southwest – Mountain’s Edge)

NV-Sen: Rosen 52.97%, Heller 43.39%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 52.08%, Laxalt 43.43%

NV-03: Lee 53.08%, Tarkanian 41.18%

2018 Turnout: 66.80% of registered voters

2018 was 57.37% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: Clinton 48%, Trump 45%

Clark Precinct 7693 (Henderson – Green Valley)

NV-Sen: Rosen 53.66%, Heller 43.20%

NV-Gov: Sisolak 51.30%, Laxalt 44.73%

NV-03: Lee 53.59%, Tarkanian 42.18%

2018 Turnout: 64.02% of registered voters

2018 was 81.27% of 2016 turnout

NV-Pres 2016: Clinton 50%, Trump 44%

Photo by Andrew Davey

What also strikes me in these suburban precincts is the turnout. While overall turnout still appears high, these numbers offer further confirmation that the non-profit progressive groups succeeded in boosting urban core turnout closer to the kinds of numbers we normally just see in the suburbs.

Precinct 7693 is especially near and dear to my heart, as this is the neighborhood I call home. Though my neighborhood isn’t far from Rosen’s, where she probably did enjoy a bit of a “home turf advantage”, it’s still rare to see any Democrat score the kind of double-digit landslide that both she and Rep.-elect Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) scored in my small corner of leafy Henderson. And at the very edge of the Mountain’s Edge community that spreads across much of the rapidly diversifying Southwest Vegas Valley, we see another example of Rosen, Sisolak, and Lee overperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 baseline in another swingy suburban area.

I hope these numbers better illustrate why the 2018 “blue wave” grew so big here in Nevada. And don’t worry, as we’re still not done yet. Stay tuned, as we’ll soon return to Washoe County to get the “Reno 411” on why Democrats did so well up north and whether Nevada’s bellwether region truly is in the midst of a historic realignment.

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