What election results mean for Nevada

Reno Gazette Journal November 11, 2018


The 2018 election cycle has ended and the results have been tabulated. Nevadans can now safely turn their TV and computer screens on without candidates accusing opponents of kicking dogs and ruining clear blue skies. With the dust settling, let’s take a look at the results and the impact on Nevadans.

At the Federal level, with the Republicans poised to increase their majority in the Senate from 51 to 54, the GOP has gained a little wiggle room. Republicans can now afford to have a Murkowski, Collins or Paul vote against a nominee without risking confirmation. This wiggle room is most advantageous with confirmations, both Judicial (Federal Appeals Court) and Executive (Jeff Sessions’ replacement). Furthermore, having a cushion of four Senators affords the President the luxury of losing a Senate seat or two in 2020 and still having a majority in his second term (yes, President Trump will win re-election). For instance, he can focus on Michigan for his Presidential campaign instead of trying to flip Alabama Senate from Democrat to Republican.

With the House under Democratic control, we will see pointless investigations which are meant to serve as a headache for the President who will then go into attack mode. Maxine Waters chairing the Financial Services Committee is a joke and the President will highlight that non-stop for the next two years. I don’t expect progress on immigration or any other key areas. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a government shutdown.

At the state level, Democrats now hold the trifecta of Assembly, Senate and Governor’s mansion. For the first time since Governor Bob Miller called Carson City home back in the 1990s, there is no Gubernatorial backstop. Democrats have a supermajority of two-thirds in the Assembly (which is a Nevada constitutional requirement for raising taxes) and one Senator short of a supermajority in the Senate. If the Democrats can get one Republican Senator to vote their way, there is no limit to the tax increases they can pass. Judging by how things went the last session and, given that the Democratic legislative leadership hasn’t changed much, I wouldn’t be surprised by a hard-left turn and a massive shift of resources to the South. Elections have consequences, and we are about to find out how bad such consequences could be.

One final point: This is a devastating blow at the state level where some excellent candidates have lost their bids for office. While the Republican performance in Clark (where we lost ground) and Rural counties (where we gained ground) was more-or-less expected, Washoe’s performance was very disappointing. Washoe has a 5000 Republican registration advantage, yet, almost all statewide Republican candidates lost Washoe by substantial margins (Adam lost by over 4000 and Dean lost by about 7000 votes in Washoe).

The Democratic party in Washoe did a great job in putting together a slate of candidates and helping them succeed. The GOP needs to do the same. The Nevada GOP and the Washoe County GOP need to seriously rethink their approach to voter identification, mobilization and persuasion. The GOP needs to differentiate activity from achievement. Activity-based metrics may make us feel good but they don’t deliver results. Additionally, the party needs to learn how to use data. Without data and meaningful metrics, the GOP is flying blind.