U.S. Senator and 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris (D-California) returned to Nevada one more time to stump for running mate Joe Biden. Before her planned visit to Las Vegas this evening, we tuned in as Harris urged a socially distant audience of supporters in Reno not to give up on participating in the election or saving American democracy.
First, some quick notes on the end game state of play
We’ll go further into detail on early voting turnout later this week. But suffice to say that despite ongoing Republican strength in in-person turnout, Democrats’ vote-by-mail (VBM) dominance has helped them stay ahead in the overall count. And as The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston notes in his early voting blog, we’ve probably already seen over half of the total vote come in, so time is running out for Republicans to catch up.
Even though Nevada has not really been front and center in the final swing of swing state madness (again, this may be the year when Arizona becomes the new center of America’s political universe), we are getting some candidate action this week. On the Republican side Eric Trump is doing events in the state today, President Donald Trump will do a rally in Bullhead City tomorrow, and Vice President Mike Pence will do a rally in Reno on Thursday. And on the Democratic side, Kamala Harris returned to Nevada for a pair of GOTV (or “get out the vote”) rallies for Biden in Reno and Las Vegas.
In the last week, we got three new Nevada polls: Both Civiqs and BUSR/UNLV show Biden pulling into a 9% lead over Trump, and the brand new New York Times/Siena poll has Biden (still) up 6% over Trump. Like last time BUSR’s crosstabs and NYT/Siena’s crosstabs mostly make sense, but Civiqs’ crosstabs are very weird to say to the least: It’s highly unlikely that Trump is over 40% among young and Latinx voters, and it’s highly unlikely Biden holds any lead among white voters and a double-digit lead among seniors. Nonetheless all three polls’ toplines hew closely to FiveThirtyEight’s Nevada forecast and what we’re probably seeing with early voting turnout, so Biden is probably still a solid bet to win Nevada next week.
“The economic devastation is profound. Yet when we listen to Donald Trump at the debate, he says we’re ‘rounding the corner’. What is he talking about, ‘rounding the corner’?”
– Kamala Harris
There's roughly 200 supporters here at Bartley Ranch as part of a get out the vote rally with Senator Harris. She's touching on many of the same talking points we've heard from Democrats throughout the campaign. pic.twitter.com/H5w2BFOpJc
— Paul Boger (@Paul_Boger) October 27, 2020
Amid Washoe County’s alarming surge in COVID-19 infections, Kamala Harris fired back at Trump’s and Pence’s ongoing denial of COVID-19’s severity while speaking to a socially distanced audience of just over 100 in Southwest Reno. According to Harris, “We are looking at over 225,000 Americans, just in the last seven months who have died.” She then acknowledged the real pain that COVID-19 has inflicted upon America: “People are mourning. Over 8.5 million people have contracted this virus with long-term consequences.”
Harris then cited Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s detailed account of how Trump knew how severe the COVID-19 pandemic would be before he began to gaslight the public on the real state of the pandemic. As Harris recalled, “They knew back on January 28 that it is lethal, at least five times as deadly as the flu. They sat on that information, and they had the gall […] to sit on that information and call it a ‘hoax’.”
From there, Harris brought back some core messaging from her own prior presidential campaign in challenging Trump’s alleged “strength on the economy”. As she acknowledged the severity of the COVID-19-linked recession here in Nevada and nationally, Harris lamented, “Here in Nevada, one in seven households are struggling with hunger. In Nevada, we have one in seven households who have difficulty paying rent.”
Harris then pointed out how Trump’s sunny rhetoric contradicts the vast majority of Americans’ increasingly dark and stormy reality: “The economic devastation is profound. Yet when we listen to Donald Trump at the debate, he says we’re ‘rounding the corner’. What is he talking about, ‘rounding the corner’?”
“Now, in the midst of a public health pandemic, Donald Trump and his boy Bill Barr are in court right now to sue to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.”
– Kamala Harris
As Harris continued her presentation, she contrasted Trump’s erratic behavior with Biden’s plans for action on combating COVID-19, protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), investing in public infrastructure and job creation, taking on climate change, and building a more equitable nation. She particularly honed in on the ACA as a big reason why she voted against confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Citing Trump’s desire for the Court to overturn the entire ACA, Harris warned, “Now, in the midst of a public health pandemic, Donald Trump and his boy Bill Barr are in court right now to sue to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. […] Do you know: Over one million Nevadans have pre-existing conditions, yet they are in court to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.”
While Barrett’s confirmation has health care advocates more worried than ever that a majority of justices may soon vote to overturn the entire ACA, Harris reassured the audience in Reno that under a Biden-Harris administration, they’ll work to protect the ACA and enhance it with a broadly accessible public option, an expansion of Medicare to Americans 60 and older, and more work on mental health equity.
“He has the courage to say, ‘Black Lives Matter’, a term Donald Trump will never use.”
– Kamala Harris, on Joe Biden’s commitment to racial justice
For months, we’ve seen pundits quibble over how much better or worse Biden is faring among voters of color than the mostly stratospheric support Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton earned, and all of this pundit chatter typically comes alongside another round of predictable “hot takes” over how Democrats should panic over what those white Trump voters say at the roadside diner and/or how Democrats should cheer up over what these white Biden voters say at the upscale suburban “natural foods” grocery store.
In reality, stories like The Nevada Independent’s recent piece on Nevada Latinx voters, this Daily Beast op-ed on Pennsylvania black men, and much of our own reporting here paint a much more complex picture of voters of color feeling anger over Trump, frustration over Biden, and exasperation over this country’s institutionalized racism. While Trump has locked down a base that includes a few voters of color, he doesn’t seem to be winning over any new support. Rather, Biden has had to put more work into winning over voters whom Democratic “strategists” regularly and mistakenly take for granted.
In Reno today, Kamala Harris stressed that she and Joe Biden want to earn the support of voters of color fair and square. After Harris described the current climate as a “long overdue reckoning of racial justice in America,” she promised that with Biden, “He has the courage to say, ‘Black Lives Matter’, a term Donald Trump will never use.”
Even as Harris and Biden continue to face scrutiny over their past “tough on crime” posturing, she promised that their plans for criminal justice reform and racial justice across the board will deliver the change that Trump refuses to even consider. Later on, Harris said, “We have so much more in common than what divides us. […] We want a unifier, and that’s Joe Biden.”
“We know our power, and we are prepared to exercise our power through our votes.”
– Kamala Harris
In closing, Harris called on Nevadans who haven’t voted yet to go out and do so soon. She also struck back at the urge to give up amidst Trump’s and his allies’ potential last-minute push to overturn next week’s election results. Harris asked the audience, “Why are so many powerful people making it so difficult for us to vote? […] Why are they messing with the post office? Why are they going through such an effort?”
Harris then answered, “Here’s what I believe the answer is: They know our power. They know that when we vote, things change. They know that when we vote, we win. Let’s not let anyone take our power from us.” And after reassuring the audience that Nevada still matters to them, she declared, “We know our power, and we are prepared to exercise our power through our votes.”
For more information on how to vote this year, check out the Nevada Secretary of State’s comprehensive site explaining our various options. If you’re already registered to vote at your current address and you voted in 2018, you were probably mailed a ballot thanks to AB 4 becoming state law in August. You still have time to either turn in your ballot at a secure drop-off site or vote in person. If you still need to register for the first time or update your registration, you can either register to vote online now or at a local voting site. And for more information on how to vote this fall, NBC News and The Washington Post have great resource guides to keep on deck.