Election '08: Nevada's Turn of the Wheel

BY MARC COOPER

Some quick hits from the Bistro Buffet at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas:

-- Never before I have ever seen so many people wearing political trappings at the gaming tables. More than 95% is Obama-Biden.

-- Both Michelle Obama and John McCain are buzzing through opposite ends of town. Sarah Palin is going to be up in Reno but that's too close to Alaska for my tastes.

-- Great piece in Sunday's always awesome Las Vegas Sun. The Democratic upsurge underway here in Nevada could redraw the state's political complexion an finally loosen the stranglehold exercised by the gambling industry. That is if the "gaming interests" don't financially collapse anyway before Xmas. This was a hollow Halloween for the mega-resorts. Room occupancy and gaming revenues continue to slump like, well, we're in the middle of a recession or something.

Check out The Sun piece. Here's an excerpt:

All the political and economic power rests on the Strip and with its paid political operatives and lobbyists.

For the most part, with the exception of some labor unions and a smattering of small do-gooder groups, the rest of the state mostly gawks like spectators at the governing process — and if your kid’s school isn’t good or you’re afraid to go to the local hospital because it’s substandard, well, what are you gonna do?

Nevada has long ranked in the bottom 10 of states in voter participation, let alone civic activism.

But that appears to be changing, quickly. The Silver State’s central role in this presidential election could fundamentally reshape the ways in which Nevadans view their community and what they can do to change it, say local activists, Nevada historians and political scientists.

Here’s why: The long campaign leading to the January presidential caucus culminated with a surprising turnout of more than 100,000 Democrats, which was followed by a general election campaign that has moved thousands of Democrats to volunteer for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama.

The result: The state is for the first time home to thousands of energetic liberal activists well trained in sophisticated techniques of political and community organizing.


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