(Also at Nevada Progressive. This is the start of my new series on critical Western "swing districts" that will likely determine the balance of power in Congress, and perhaps The White House as well, next year.)
Last week, we discussed the the stark contrast in focus between the parties here in Nevada. Long story short: While Republican operatives have been focusing more on spinning the media, Democrats have had a laser like focus on field organizing. Today, I wanted us to go in depth some more and explore the heart of Nevada Democrats' field efforts. And as we start our series on "How The West Will Be Won" this fall, I figured there's no better way to start than by examining the field campaign in what may be the most critical Congressional race in the country (which just happens to be my own).
Last Saturday, the Nevada State Democratic Party packed its NV-03 field office with volunteers for a weekend phone bank. In addition to the crew of volunteers, NV-03 Democratic nominee John Oceguera came by to greet them and thank them for all their work in winning the election... And not just for him.
Believe it or not, my home Congressional District will play a huge role in determining the fate of President Obama's second term. For one, this is a district that Obama himself must win in order to win Nevada and our 6 Electoral Votes this fall. And since NV-03 is typically such a bellwether of a swing district, this is also an area where Shelley Berkley must win in order to win the US Senate election here. And since President Obama urgently needs more Democratic allies in Congress next year in order to actually have a Congress that's willing to work for the nation's best interest, he urgently needs for Shelley Berkley and John Oceguera to win alongside him here in Nevada.
So why is NV-03 so important? Basically, we're a unique mix of older (for Nevada, at least) suburbs that have been aging gracefully and newer suburbs that came into existence during the height of the 2000's "Real Estate Bubble". The older suburbs, like Green Valley and the original neighborhoods of Summerlin, were once considered Republican strongholds. But over time, they've become more politically balanced while the newer Southwest Valley suburbs were incredibly diverse from the get-go. Really, NV-03 is the vanguard when it comes to demographic changes here in Nevada. That's why it's become such a critical bellwether.
So the stakes are incredibly high here in The Silver State as we approach autumn. And that's why Nevada Democrats are kicking their "field machine" into high gear. At Saturday's phone bank, at least 1,000 dials were made by the time John Oceguera arrived. And while the volunteers were making dials, the canvass department was recruiting more people to work the field and knock doors.
Every once in a while, there's discussion on the accuracy of most public polling of Nevada. Let me explain why this dilemma has emerged in the last 3 election cycles (2008, 2010, and now 2012). Since 2005, Nevada Democrats have been investing in growing a strong field operation. While activities like voter registration outside the neighborhood DMV and spending a lovely Saturday afternoon making political phone calls don't always seem "sexy", they're incredibly effective when it comes to winning elections. And as Democrats register new voters, re-register voters who have moved since 2008, call them to remind them of the upcoming election, then knock on their doors to make sure they vote, Nevada Democrats are "expanding the electorate" beyond the confines of what most national pollsters and media pundits expect. This is exactly how Harry Reid defied the (national media's pre-set) odds and won reelection in 2010, and this is what Shelley Berkley and John Oceguera are counting on now.
Yet while all of this is happening, Nevada Republicans continue to surround themselves with chaos. On one end, Mitt Romney continues to explain his "bromance" with Paul Ryan... And cause headaches for Republican Congressional campaigns here in Nevada and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the actual Nevada Republican Party continues its slow-motion implosion as it continues to debate the burning issue of... Ron Paul. And with even "The Shadow GOP" caught in an ugly "Bus Wreck", even some Republican insiders have wondered if they can put together a field operation in time to salvage Dean Heller and Joe Heck this fall.
Again, this election will most likely be won or lost in the field. And again, NV-03 may very well be THE key swing district for both the state and the country. So field really does matter here. And in the end, Nevada Democrats' field operation may be that one "X Factor" that manages to make the difference in determining the balance of power in Washington (DC) next year.