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As the election nears, who are you voting for in Nevada?

AP
AP

After more than a week of early voting, the numbers seem to indicate this could be one of the closest elections in years. 

That means campaigns are doing everything they can to target undecided voters ahead of next week’s election. Former President Barack Obama was in Vegas on Tuesday night; former President Donald Trump has visited a few times. And we're sure your mailbox is still getting stuffed with glossy mailers every day. 

But will any of it sway voters? Roughly 25% of eligible voters have cast their ballot already. It could be higher, depending on the count of mail-in ballots. So have we all made up our minds? And what about independent voters? 

Dore Wallace is a “truly undecided” voter. She’s historically leaned Democratic, but now is on the fence.

“Since 2020, I have really checked out, because I'm not hearing from either party what I'm looking for, which is nonpartisan solutions,” she said. 

She said candidates focus too microscopically on specific concerns, when they should be looking at the “overall system health” – a healthy economy, a healthy democratic process with transparency.

Though, government overreach is a concern of hers.

“I didn't necessarily agree with the government being able to mandate vaccines covering governance. So things like that, autonomy and consent, did become an issue,” she said. With the overturning of Roe V. Wade, “I'm concerned with what it represents, which in my opinion, it represents autonomy and consent, where we can't manage what goes into and out of other people's bodies.”

Will she vote?

"I am leaning towards voting, but … I'm hoping that people realize that a lot of us are bipartisan because we're not hearing bipartisan solutions. We're hearing a lot of rhetoric against the other side, and I just don't think that after 2020, we enjoy it anymore. It always was a dogfight, and we enjoyed it back in the day. But after 2020, it no longer makes sense to sit here and point fingers when everybody's looking for healthy systems."

Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans have already voted. But there are still many, many more hundreds of thousands who will vote on Tuesday or through early voting, which ends later this week. 

Of course, there are not really a lot of undecided voters out there anymore.

New polling from the University of Nevada-Reno shows that most voters have already made up their minds. Dr. Christina Ladam is an assistant professor of political science at UNR, who, with Dr. Jeremy Gelman, conducted this recent poll.

Their poll echoed many as of late, with top ticket races in Nevada in a dead heat. The difference, she said, was their poll of 600 likely Nevada voters showed higher support for incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

“We did see that a lot of, especially on the lower ballot races, there are a lot of undecided voters,” Ladam said. “The thing to note is that undecided voters at this point in time are also the least likely to turn out to vote. So the voters who we can most count on showing up to cast a ballot have pretty much already made up their minds.”

Nearly 80% of the respondents in their survey said they would be likely to vote this time. Traditionally, midterm elections have much lower turnout rates than presidential elections. 

Ladam said the higher interest comes from the Senate race having importance to both parties, which we’ve seen in campaign ad spending. 

The Nevada Independent also just released new polling data, and much like the UNR survey, the results showed top-ticket Democrats with a slight lead over Republicans, but still within the margin of error. 

That’s not surprising to Sean Golonka, one of their staff reporters covering government and politics. 

“These are kind of tracking with all the polls that we've seen in recent weeks, and they show very tight races up and down the ballot. Over the last few weeks, I've seen polls that see Adam Laxalt leading from anywhere from one to five points. And I've seen polls where the Senate race is tight or Cortez Masto is up by a few points. So everything's kind of floating in that range, but remaining very tight,” he said. 

The money Democrat incumbents have been able to raise translates into advertising and mailers, as well as canvassing to get out the vote. 

“I think these tight races speak a little bit more just to the kind of electorate we have in Nevada,” Golonka said.

Meanwhile, campaigns are still trying to sway voters who just just aren't there yet. Keith Schipper has his finger on the pulse of the GOP side of that effort as director of regional communications for the Republican National Committee. And for Democrats, Mallory Payne is the deputy communications director for Nevada Democratic Victory, which is a group that tries to get Democrats elected.

It seems at this point that Republicans are poised for really some big wins this election. But early voting results show more Democrats than Republicans have voted so far. 

Schipper said Republicans in Clark County have a 3% turnout advantage,” and they are ahead of where they were at this point in 2020. A lot of Republicans will be turning out on election day.

“[The Republican party is] the most united that I think most of us that have been in Nevada working on campaigns have felt for quite some time. We all have one mission, which is to ensure that we take this state back, that we elect Joe Lombardo as a governor, that we elect Adam Laxalt as our senator, that we win some house seats and of course, hopefully, fingers crossed, take back the legislature,” he said. “Republicans are united in that. And we were going to continue to work for the next six days to ensure that we have those victories.”

Meanwhile, Payne said they started outreach earlier than previous elections.

Their candidates have “been attending get out the vote parties, doing everything they can to get in front of voters and remind them how important it is to vote, and making sure they have a plan to vote,” she said. “I think we have a lot of accomplishments to run on.”

Her group contacts voters every day. 

“We are keeping up the energy through this last week and keeping our volunteers energized and ready to go,” she said.


What some of our callers said

Michael from Las Vegas

It's just, it's unfortunate that the candidates that are out there, that what's being said in these ads, really has no merit. It’s just bashing one another, there's not much like, you know, a basis in any one of them. All I know is punchlines, Crooked Catherine or Sideways Adam Laxalt, or whatever it may be.  Unfortunately, that's not the best way for us to be making decisions on who's going to be our local leaders moving forward. 

Scott in Las Vegas

First of all about the ads, yes, the ads are mostly terrible. They're mostly attack ads. And what I take from that is, there are a couple of decent ads that Catherine Cortez Masto has out there that are positive. I don't see any from Laxalt. But it takes a couple minutes to look up candidates. I hear people calling in and saying they don't know who to vote for. They're undecided voters. It's very simple to take a few minutes, go online, look up the candidates at their websites. And Adam Laxalt is an election denier, first and foremost. So he's anti-democracy. He says he won't abide by it if he loses. Anti-women's rights. He's anti-choice. I'm voting for Catherine Cortez Masto, who's pro-women's rights and believes in a democracy and is not an election denier. These are very simplistic things to vote for. All right, they're complexities that people can look up. But you've got very simple choices here.

Ricky in Las Vegas

I voted on Friday. This is the first time that I looked at a candidate's name and I saw a commercial in my mind. And it was the fifth time, I'm a fifth-year Democratic voter. The only Republican I ever voted for was George Bush [Sr.] because he was a nice man, he came across as a nice individual. And we're not seeing that anymore. That's why I appreciated your show with Governor Sisolak, because that's why I voted for him. Because he came across like a nice man. Your show didn't sugarcoat it. He had to answer the questions correctly. And we don't get that anymore. 

William from Las Vegas

I voted this morning. And a part of it is because I had such a hard time coming to grips with which candidates are politically just where I am right now. I am just very sick and tired of being sick and tired. You know, the prices of everything weighed heavily, you know, the ads are exhausting. I really found myself tired. And kind of insulted, by the way that I want to say that Democrats have kind of picked up the Donald Trump playbook and put like, silly names in front of all the other candidates. … I think if you're worried about abortion, California as a two hour drive, don't worry about it. I found myself voting for candidates from all parties. I just don't think anymore, that being a Democrat or Republican works, it just doesn't. These parties keep going to extremes. 

Ross from North Las Vegas

One of my biggest concerns is where we're going as far as our democracy. To me all the other things don't matter. Because if we come to an authoritarian government, and one party has control, we'll never have elections, elections will never matter. And that's where my focus is. I looked at all the other things, inflation, if you don't understand how inflation works, if you don't understand the global market, what's going on, and you don't understand capitalism, and every company wants to make a profit … I don't think you can blame any parties, particularly when it comes to what's going on with when we had the pandemic …

Kevin from Sandy Valley

This election is completely about democracy and Democratic values and those ‘small d’ Democratic values. And by that I mean, we still have the former president who was delighted to deny the election results, even though he knew that he lost, we have people that have jumped on that bandwagon simply to get his endorsement. … I am a 64-year-old longtime nonpartisan voter. I used to enjoy the process of figuring out who I wanted to vote for this time. There has been no process because I'm voting straight Democrat across the board. Because they're the Republicans have become a cult. 

Pat from Las Vegas

I've usually been a Democrat. I'm a white guy in my 50s who is a small business owner. I've had a lot of trouble hiring people in the past year or two. I can be a guy that's leaning Republican at this point. But more and more I find myself … I just can't vote for any of them just because of these conspiracy theories and denying the election and I'm just worried that if I vote for any of them, we will get another president like Trump.

Dore Wallace, nonpartisan voter; Keith Schipper, regional spokesperson, National Republican Party; Mallory Payne, deputy communications director, Nevada Democratic Victory; Sean Golonka, reporter, Nevada Independent;  Christina Ladam, assistant professor of political science, UNR 

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates and creates content for knpr.org, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.