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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

2020 ElectionNews and information

Hindsight 2020: Reno 411, Revisited

How many times must we say this: Reno is not Las Vegas. Hell, I had to remind myself of this last month, when the election results in Nevada’s two most populous counties began to diverge from each other. How is it that even as outgoing President Donald Trump managed to beat expectations in Clark County, he underperformed in Washoe County?

Thankfully for everyone, we have the receipts.

Yes, we have the receipts… for Washoe, Washoe, Washoe!
Reno, early voting
Photo by Andrew Davey

If you remember our “Blueprint for a Blue Wave” series from 2018, you know that I don’t like to hide my methodology from you. To see how I calculated these numbers, check out the full raw Washoe County Statement of Vote. (Warning: This one is in Excel format!) For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus today on comparing and contrasting the 2020 results with 2016’s. 

To better keep track of where we’re going, here are the Washoe County Registrar of Voters map collection, the Nevada Secretary of State’s election results page that includes down-ballot races, and The Economist’s 2020 election national results page that includes some valuable breakdowns of the overall results. 

Also keep in mind that “NVLeg” is an abbreviation for the Nevada Legislature. While all Assembly Districts (AD’s) were up this year, Senate Districts (SD’s) are staggered between presidential years and midterm years. 

Washoe Precinct 5056 (Downtown Reno, west of Virginia Street and along the Truckee River)
Reno, Washoe County, 2020 Election
Photo by Andrew Davey

President

Biden 66.27%, Biden’s raw vote was 135.42% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 31.42%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 109.00% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 63.41%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 91.61% of Biden’s

Amodei 33.79%, Amodei’s raw vote was 102.95% of Trump’s (in 2020)

(NVLeg SD 13 is not up until 2022, and NVLeg AD 24 was uncontested in 2020)

Turnout was 76.74% of registered voters

Washoe Precinct 5006 (Old Northwest Reno, near the University of Nevada) 

President

Biden 69.57%, Biden’s raw vote 120.75% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 27.72%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 109.68% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 66.57%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 94.14% of Biden’s

Amodei 30.85%, Amodei’s raw vote was 109.48% of Trump’s (in 2020)

(NVLeg SD 13 is not up until 2022, and NVLeg AD 24 was uncontested in 2020)

Turnout was 87.28% of registered voters

Washoe Precinct 1000 (Midtown/Old Southwest Reno)

President

Biden 69.11%, Biden’s raw vote was 121.10% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 27.92%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 105.96% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 65.60%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 92.93% of Biden’s

Amodei 33.33%, Amodei’s raw vote was 116.88% of Trump’s (in 2020)

(NVLeg SD 13 is not up until 2022, and NVLeg AD 24 was uncontested in 2020)

Turnout was 88.73% of registered voters

Photo by Andrew Davey

Already, we’re seeing huge differences between Washoe County’s results and Clark County’s. While outgoing President Donald Trump took greater advantage of the overall higher turnout than President-elect Joe Biden did in Nevada’s most populous county, Biden actually grew his raw vote count much more in Washoe County than Trump did. As we noticed during our 2004 retrospective, Washoe has a somewhat higher share of college-educated voters than Clark does, and that key demographic difference really shines through in these precinct results.

Throughout the fast-evolving “gentrification battlegrounds” of Downtown and Midtown Reno, and in the neighborhoods north of I-80 and near the University of Nevada, turnout increased and Biden actually performed even better than Hillary Clinton’s 2016 overperformance above Democrats’ traditional baseline levels. 

However, Biden’s overperformance did not completely make its way down the ballot. Even though Patricia Ackerman (D) earned praise from some local activists for her campaign in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District (NV-02), Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) consistently ran ahead of Trump, even in these bluest neighborhoods of Reno. Though Amodei didn’t run too far ahead of Trump here in Reno’s urban core, you’re about to see where he benefitted even more from a much bigger wave of ticket-splitting.

Washoe Precinct 6110 (Downtown Sparks, near Victorian Square)
Reno, Washoe County, 2020 Election
Photo by Andrew Davey

President

Biden 57.37%, Biden’s raw vote was 125.58% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 38.91%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 117.67% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 55.27%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 93.52% of Biden’s

Amodei 40.22%, Amodei’s raw vote was 100.34% of Trump’s (in 2020)

(Amodei got one more vote than Trump)

(NVLeg SD 13 is not up until 2022)

AD 30

Anderson 57.37%, Anderson’s raw vote was 94.68% of Biden’s

Hoff 38.38%, Hoff’s raw vote was 95.22% of Trump’s

Turnout was 76.16% of registered voters

 

Washoe Precinct 6313 (Sparks – D’Andrea)

President

Biden 49.04%, Biden’s raw vote was 121.92% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 48.76%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 117.74% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 45.74%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 91.39% of Biden’s

Amodei 51.92%, Amodei’s raw vote was 104.33% of Trump’s (in 2020)

(NVLeg SD 14 is not up until 2022)

NVLeg AD 31

Daly 49.95%, Daly’s raw vote was 99.44% of Biden’s

Dickman 50.05%, Dickman’s raw vote was 100.19% of Trump’s

(Dickman won this precinct by one vote)

Turnout was 85.02% of registered voters

 

Washoe Precinct 7314 (Sun Valley, north of Reno)

President

Biden 50.76%, Biden’s raw vote was 126.59% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 46.42%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 130.36% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 50.49%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 96.24% of Biden’s

Amodei 46.55%, Amodei’s raw vote was 96.92% of Trump’s vote (in 2020)

NVLeg SD 15

Jauregui-Jackins 51.26%, Jauregui-Jackin’s raw vote was 95.92% of Biden’s

Gansert 48.74%, Gansert’s raw vote was 99.66% of Trump’s

NVLeg AD 27

Benitez-Thompson 53.17%, Benitez-Thompson’s raw vote was 100% of Biden’s

Hawn 46.83%, Hawn’s raw vote was 96.23% of Trump’s

Turnout was 69.60% of registered voters

Photo by Andrew Davey

As we move into Sparks, we can see that Biden is overperforming less. If anything, these precincts exhibit more of the patterns we saw in several of Clark County’s precincts. These neighborhoods tend to house more Latinx voters and/or more non-college white voters, so Biden’s margins were much more in line with Clinton’s from 2016. 

And even though Amodei also benefited from some ticket-splitting here, outgoing Assembly Member Skip Daly (D-Sparks) was not as fortunate. Daly managed to win in 2016 and 2018 by getting just enough Trump-Heller-Laxalt voters to cross over for him. His luck finally ran out this year, and we can see in Precinct 6313 in a more suburban stretch of Sparks that at least a few Biden voters may have even crossed over for Assembly Member-elect Jill Dickman (R-Sparks).

As we noticed back in 2018, Sun Valley is a big exception to the Washoe County rule. Democratic margins continue to erode here, though there were still enough straight-ticket Democratic voters to boost Patricia Ackerman in NV-02, State Senate candidate Wendy Jauregui-Jackins (D) in SD 15, and Assembly Member Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D-Reno) in AD 27. But as we’re about to see below, Jauregui-Jackins’ relatively strong performance here was no match for the eye-popping amount of ticket-splitting on the other side of SD 15.

Washoe Precinct 2041 (South Reno – Damonte Ranch)
Reno, Washoe County, 2020 Election
Photo by Andrew Davey

President

Biden 48.29%, Biden’s raw vote was 173.22% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 50.00%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 169.00% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 44.45%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 89.50% of Biden’s vote

Amodei 54.36%, Amodei’s raw vote was 105.71% of Trump’s vote (in 2020)

(NVLeg SD 16 is not up until 2022)

NVLeg AD 26

Alm 42.09%, Alm’s raw vote was 83.49% of Biden’s vote

Krasner 57.91%, Krasner’s raw vote was 110.97% of Trump’s vote

Turnout was 92.59% of registered voters

 

Washoe Precinct 8100 (Southwest Reno, just west of McCarran Blvd. and mostly south of the Truckee River)

President

Biden 50.67%, Biden’s raw vote was 128.66% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 46.26%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 104.72% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 44.45%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 84.02% of Biden’s vote

Amodei 55.16%, Amodei’s raw vote was 117.77% of Trump’s vote (in 2020)

NVLeg SD 15

Jauregui-Jackins 38.58%, Jauregui-Jackin’s raw vote was 74.82% of Biden’s

Gansert 61.42%, Gansert’s raw vote was 130.50% of Trump’s

(NVLeg AD 25 was uncontested in 2020)

Turnout was 91.99% of registered voters

 

Washoe Precinct 1007 (Southwest Reno – Caughlin Ranch)

President

Biden 55.31%, Biden’s raw vote was 126.47% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 41.96%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 106.97% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 46.15%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 81.98% of Biden’s vote

Amodei 53.03%, Amodei’s raw vote was 124.14% of Trump’s vote (in 2020)

NVLeg SD 15

Jauregui-Jackins 43.44%, Jauregui-Jackin’s raw vote was 76.45% of Biden’s

Gansert 56.56%, Gansert’s raw vote was 130.50% of Trump’s

(NVLeg AD 25 was uncontested in 2020)

Turnout was 90.94% of registered voters

 

Washoe Precinct 1023 (Southwest Reno – Caughlin Ranch)

President

Biden 53.39%, Biden’s raw vote was 125.42% of Hillary Clinton’s

Trump 45.02%, Trump’s 2020 raw vote was 107.59% of his 2016 vote

NV-02

Ackerman 47.16%, Ackerman’s raw vote was 87.57% of Biden’s vote

Amodei 52.11%, Amodei’s raw vote was 114.74% of Trump’s vote (in 2020)

NVLeg SD 15

Jauregui-Jackins 44.20%, Jauregui-Jackin’s raw vote was 81.35% of Biden’s

Gansert 55.80%, Gansert’s raw vote was 121.79% of Trump’s

(NVLeg AD 25 was uncontested in 2020)

Turnout was 91.79% of registered voters

Photo by Andrew Davey

What else can I say? State Senator Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) has cemented her reputation as “Nevada’s own version of [U.S. Senator] Susan Collins [R-Maine]”. Like Collins on the other end of the continent, Gansert again defied political gravity (though by less than she did in 2016) by convincing a critical mass of Biden voters in some of Reno’s most affluent neighborhoods to split their tickets for her.

Otherwise, one of the ways Biden salvaged his own victory here in Nevada was by overperforming so much in these same neighborhoods. Yet since many of these voters don’t have the same close relationship with the Democratic Party that we can continue to notice in places like the more diverse urban core of Las Vegas, it’s becoming clearer than ever why Biden had short coattails this year. 

Joe Biden, 2020 Election
Photo by Andrew Davey

Cindy McCain warned us all in October: “I am a Republican. I have no intention of changing my party. I’m doing what I’m doing because it’s what’s right for this country.” Though the Democratic baseline is gradually improving in these whiter, more college-educated, and more affluent suburbs, there are still more than enough ticket-splitters in these neighborhoods to help down-ballot Republicans run ahead of more problematic figures at the top of the ticket, even when that problematic figure is the highly problematic Donald Trump.

As we continue this series, we’ll keep exploring ways that the Republican Party may (d)evolve after Trump’s presidency, and we’ll examine the path forward for the Democratic Party under Biden. 2020 may soon come to a close, but we may continue to experience the aftershocks of this year’s events for more years to come.

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