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Breakdown of the 2012 Election Cycle


NSEA Facts on the 2012 Election Cycle

Endorsed Candidates
NSEA endorsed 53 candidates winning 39 of them.  (74%)

Federal Races
3 of the 4 endorsed federal races were victorious. (75%)

State Senate Races
7 of the 10 endorsed State Senate candidates were victorious. (70%)

State Assembly Races
28 of the 33 endorsed State Assembly candidates were victorious. (85%)

State Board of Education
0 of the 2 endorsed candidates were elected. (0%)

Board of Regents
2 of the 4 Board of Regents candidates were elected. (50%)

Makeup of the Bodies
US Senate: 51 Democrats, 2 Independents, 47 Republicans
US House of Representatives: 193 Democrats, 242 Republicans
Nevada State Senate: 11 Democrats, 10 Republicans
Nevada State Assembly: 25 Democrats, 14 Republicans

Breakdown of the 2012 Election Cycle

Each election cycle carries with it, its own identity.  This is especially true during presidential elections.  The 2012 election will be remembered for a few key factors, whose implication could be far reaching into the future.   In the end, 2012’s identity will be one where Republicans came up short and for the complete failure of a few billionaires who attempted to take control of Nevada’s legislative landscape.

On the surface, it seems as though nothing has really changed politically in Nevada.  Barack Obama is still president.  Nevada’s U.S. Senate seats are split by party and Harry Reid will still control the Senate.  Nevada’s U.S. House of Representatives looks slightly different only because the state gained a seat due to a larger population.   Yet Nevada’s House delegates are split evenly by party with two seats going Republican and two going Democrat.    In the same manner, state politics stayed put as well.  The Democrats still hold the state Senate by a single vote (11-10) and the Democrats still hold a firm majority in the Assembly. 

So, while the surface of the pond looks calm and familiar, underneath the water a much different picture emerges. 

The 2012 election was one the Democrats should have lost.  When the country is suffering from record high unemployment, gasoline is at over $3.50 a gallon, and a foreclosure rate that is still soaring, history proves that Americans usually seek a wholesale change in who is in power.  Additionally, billionaire financial backers, such as Sheldon Adelson, were spending tens of millions of dollars in key races to ensure Republican control of the state Senate.   Nevada had more political ads than anywhere else in the United States.  Yet through all of this Democrats held their line and will head into the next year exactly where they were before the election. 

The democratic victory did not come without some severe losses to a few of our promising candidates.  While the war was certainly won, the casualties the Democrats sustained may be difficult to overcome as we move into the next legislative session.

The Race for U.S. President
Barack Obama pulled out a convincing victory in Nevada, a victory that many experts did not see coming.  President Obama received 52% of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 45%.  Obama’s victory is stunning as he overwhelmingly won the state with perhaps the worst economy in the country.   Early results indicate the president was able to overcome these obstacles by focusing on the large Hispanic vote and tailoring his message to women.   Without those two Nevada voting blocs, victory would have been all but unsure.

What is also known is the impact organized labor had on the reelection of our President.  The work our Association did in Nevada, along with your colleagues from across the country was vital in beating back the anti-union and anti-public education message coming from the Mitt Romney Campaign.

The Race for the U.S. Senate
Dean Heller (R) was able to secure a 6 year term in the Senate by a much smaller margin than anyone predicted.  In what was a tight race all night, Heller pulled 45% of the vote to Shelley Berkley’s (D) 44%.  In a hard fought race, it is a shame Nevada will be losing such a wonderful advocate as we have had in Shelley Berkley.  Under circumstances of an ethic probe and a terrible mudslinging campaign, the Democrats still almost managed to win that race.   Many key pundits are saying the fact that Shelley was so close to winning really shows the power of the “Democratic Voting Machine” in Nevada.  Regardless, Congresswoman Berkley will be missed.

Race for the U.S. House Seats
CD-1—Dina Titus (D) was the obvious winner in Nevada’s Congressional District 1 the moment polls closed in June’s primary election.  The general election saw Dina rolling to a 32 point victory garnering 63% of the vote.  CD-1 will more than likely continue to be a safe seat just as we may see Dina representing CD-1 for a long, long time to come.

CD-2—Mark Amodei (R) won his reelection by a large margin, taking 57% of the vote in Nevada’s Congressional District 2.  He was the heavy favorite the moment he filed to run again and there was no election surprise with him now being elected to a second term in Congress.

CD-3—Many believed Assemblyman John Oceguera (D) had a fighter’s chance against the incumbent Joe Heck (R) in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District.  However, Oceguera’s negatives were too much to make up for the registration advantage Heck enjoyed.   In a particularly dirty campaign that saw both candidates appealing to the darker sides of their nature, Joe Heck will be returning to Washington D.C.  After the smoke clears, another big question is, where does John Oceguera go from here?

CD-4—In what many professional pundits were calling a toss-up, state Senator Steven Horsford (D) walked away with a victory over his opponent Danny Tarkanian (R).  Gaining 50% of the vote to Tarkanian’s 42%, Horsford had to work hard to up his name recognition and sidestep the allegations of being a dirty politician.  In the end, Danny could not overcome the heavily democratic district which sends now Congressman Horsford to Washington, a goal he has had his eye on for several years now.

Race for Majority in the State Senate

From the moment the gavel hit 2 years ago, ending the 2011 legislative session, Senator Michael Roberson (R) vocally stated the goal of Nevada’s Republican Party was to take back control of the Nevada Senate.  Early predictions suggested Roberson had a good shot at becoming the next Senate Majority Leader as he caused money and influence to dry up quickly for those Democrats seeking to remain in the majority.   In the end, Roberson’s plan proved unsuccessful due to the coattails of a President and a voter registration that just didn’t break his way.  Below are some of the key seats that decided the outcome of the Nevada State Senate Majority battle.

SD-5—In a huge upset, State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D) was elected back to the Senate after having to sit out four years, by beating Steve Kirk (R) 51% to 48%.  While Kirk outraised Woodhouse by a wide margin, Woodhouse was victorious due to her excellent ground game which was able to turn out her large voting bloc.

SD-9—Justin Jones (D) was able to pull out a victory by a slight margin over his opponent Marie St. Martin (R).  Jones carried his district by just .7% of the vote.  This race was especially important as Senate District 9 was once held by Republican Elizabeth Halseth who resigned from office midway through her term.  SD-9 was redrawn giving a slight favorite to democratic voters; however, this raced turned into one of the dirtiest races in this cycle.   Even though millions of dollars were funneled in to attack Justin, he remained victorious.  Justin’s race really proved what a good voter mobilization plan can do even against tens of millions of dollars pouring in for the other side.

SD-15—In what is, by far, the biggest loss to the Nevada State Senate, Sheila Leslie (D) was defeated by Greg Brower (R) by just over 300 votes.  Sheila worked harder than anyone else this cycle and if there was one race that brought together the progressive coalition, Sheila did it flawlessly.  Unfortunately, the majority republican registration and the tens of millions of dollars that was used to defeat her became too much to overcome.  The race for SD-15 is a microcosm for the battles ahead for the state of Nevada.  Two opposing sides are clearly taking shape and the battle will be fought in the next legislative session.  It is an absolute disservice to the people of SD-15, and Nevada as a whole, that Sheila will not be heading back to Carson City in February.

Race for the Assembly Majority
The party that held the majority in the Nevada Assembly was never really in question this election cycle.  The true question at hand was, will the Republicans continue to chip away at the Democratic Majority or will the Democrats be able to build upon what they already had?   The answer turned out to be the latter as Democrats actually picked up a seat in the Assembly.  Unfortunately, there was a major loss within the Assembly.  This single race will set off a leadership battle perhaps unseen in the history of Nevada.

AD-37—Assemblyman Marcus Conklin (D) lost in a close race to political new-comer Wesley Duncan (R).  Duncan was able to garner 51% of the vote to Conklin’s 48%.  Since redistricting, the chances of Marcus getting reelected were not generally in his favor.  However, the close margin is not what has made this race so historical.  Never in the history of Nevada has someone in leadership lost their reelection bid for state office.  Marcus Conklin was expected to become the next Speaker of the State Assembly.  With Conklin’s loss, the scramble for who will fill that position is murky at best.  Due to one race, the entire direction of the Democratic Caucus and in fact, the entire Nevada Assembly is a complete unknown.


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