Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gridlock 1 Berkley NONE

The first of a number of periodic posts examining last November’s election from the  “Data Driven” perspective.
Last summer, a gaggle of Nevada Republicans filed suit (Townley v. Miller) to drop the option of voting for “None of these Candidates” on the Nevada ballot, apparently in the belief that “None of These” votes hurt GOP hopefuls. In September, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the GOP case was likely groundless and granted a stay: “Plaintiff’s arguments offer no colorable basis for this court to conclude that Nevada’s 37-year-old statute providing for “None of These Candidates” ballots is contrary to the Constitution or to any federal statute.”

Ironically, None of These Candidates remained an option for Nevada voters, but much to the detriment of the Democrats!

 None of These Candidates played a significant role in Shelley Berkley’s 12,000 vote defeat to arch-Conservative Dean Heller in her run for the US Senate. Yes, Ms. Berkley ran a terrible campaign, and she was dragged down by ethics allegations, although even the conservative Las Vegas Review-Journal  (think Manchester Guardian with demonstrably lower journalistic standards) had to admit the ethics allegations were trumped up:

“In the end, the [House Ethics]  committee dismissed substantive allegations against her while finding her in violation of a conflict- of-interest rule the panel said could be clearer.”

To win Nevada, a Democrat must carry metropolitan Las Vegas (Clark County) by a solid margin. Reno (Washoe County) tends to break even, but Democrats get clobbered in the states 15 rural counties.

In evaluating the impact of the None of These Candidates on the 2012 ballot, it is instructive to examine the state’s most heavily Democratic precincts in Clark County, those which President Obama carried 75% or more of the vote. In these 104 precincts, None of These votes totaled 3,922 in the Senate race, compared to just 314 in the Presidential contest. Undervotes in the Senate race accounted for an additional 2,152 votes (cases in which a voter cast a ballot for President but did not select a choice in the Senate race). In spite of the fears about the role of the None of These votes playing against Republicans, GOP voters held solid. Mitt Romney garnered 10,269 votes in these precincts, and Dean Heller captured 10,147. Meanwhile, Democratic voters abandoned Berkley in droves. President Obama captured 54,879 votes to Berkley’s 47,407. Mr. Obama’s big margins in these precincts helped him turn Nevada blue, but Berkley fell short. Undervotes and “None of These” just in these highly Democrat precincts account for comfortably over 50% of Berkley’s deficit in the 2012 Senate race.

President Obama garnered over 50,000 more votes than  Berkley in Clark County, while Romney outpaced Heller by a mere 12,000. Countywide, there were 3,447 None of These votes in the Presidential contest, compared to a staggering 30,675 in the Senate race.  Shelley Berkley would be in the Senate if None of These Candidates had not appeared on the ballot.

Presidential campaigns are seductive, especially in the swing states. While it is far more fun to canvass for President Obama than a flawed Senate candidate, progressives do a lousy job of encouraging down ballot voting—voting for Democrats NOT running for President. 

But by sending Mr. Obama to the White House and Mr. Heller to the Senate, Nevada voted for continued gridlock in Washington, as Dr. Michael Green pointed out in his post election analysis for Vegas Seven.:

In Senate races across the country last November, Democratic women won;  None of These Candidates ensured that was not the case in Nevada. Every time the GOP plays the filibuster card this year, remember the curse of None.

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