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National Republican Party officials say Obama vulnerable in Nevada because of tough economy


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A national Republican official said today Nevada’s economic landscape has changed dramatically since the state went for President Obama in 2008, and increasing GOP voter registrations in the battleground state are evidence of dissatisfaction with his administration.

Rick Wiley, political director for the Republican National Committee, said in a telephone conference call that Nevada has the highest jobless rate in the nation and has suffered through 60 months of the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

2008 presidential election by county. / Image courtesy of Robert Horning via Wikimedia Commons.

While Nevada’s economic woes didn’t start with the Obama Administration, the president has said his performance on the economy should be evaluated by voters when considering his bid for a second term, Wiley said.

The comments come the day before as many as 60,000 Nevada Republicans are expected to participate in the state’s First in the West GOP caucus. The four Republican candidates have made numerous appearances across the state in the past few days.

Nevada’s jobless rate has started to improve, however, and declined to 12.6 percent in December. The national unemployment rate for January announced today also declined, to 8.3 percent from 8.5 percent in December.

Nevada was one of nine “battleground” states that went for Obama in 2008 that President Bush had won in 2004.

But Wiley said 53 percent of independent voters in Nevada in a recent poll said they disapprove of his performance, and 17 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

The voter registration numbers are reflecting this disillusionment, he said.

“For months now the Republicans have been gaining on the Democrats there,” Wiley said. “We had an advantage of about 3,200 in the month of January and we continue to make gains to catch the Democrats.

“They had a huge margin after the 2008 Democratic caucus where they invoked some same-day registration,” he said. “And we’ve narrowed that gap down to about 47,000 now which just proves the point that Republicans are getting very enthused about not only voting against Obama but voting and supporting our eventual nominee.”

The Nevada State Democratic Party dismissed the Republican voter registration gains in January. The January numbers were released Thursday by Secretary of State Ross Miller.

“With their voter registration efforts at full throttle in anticipation of their competitive caucus, the Nevada Republicans were only able to register less than 4,500 new voters during the entire month of January – barely making a dent in the nearly 50,000 Democratic voter registration advantage in the state,” said Senior Communications Adviser Zac Petkanas.

“When Nevada Democrats held a similar competitive caucus in 2008, we registered 30,000 new voters in one day alone,” he said. “There’s a word for Republicans bragging to cover up an embarrassing month in voter registration: pathetic.”

RNC Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclán said during the conference call that a majority of Latinos believe the economic downturn has hit them hardest.

“It is especially true for Latinos in Nevada,” she said. “They are facing an unemployment rate of 18.6 percent in the state and 10.5 percent nationally and they are ready to change the direction in Washington.”

Inclán said there are about 224,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Nevada, about 14 percent of the total.

Audio clips:

Rick Wiley, political director for the Republican National Committee, says Republicans are gaining on Democrats in voter registration:

020312Wiley1 :13 catch the Democrats.”

Wiley says the huge margin after the 2008 Democratic caucus is closing:

020212Wiley2 :21 our eventual nominee.”

RNC Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclán says Latinos are ready for a change in Washington:

020212Inclan :16 direction in Washington.”

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