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OPINION: Registration smegistration: How the GOP really lost Nevada



480px-chuck-muth-150x150-1269502-7564020A lot of folks want to blame Romney’s loss in Nevada on voter registration, pointing to the Democrats’ well-publicized registration efforts over the three-month period leading up to this year’s general election. Alas, the numbers just don’t back that up.   Consider the following:

At the close of registration in 2008 in Nevada, there were approximately 531,000 “active” registered Democrats.  At the close of registration this year, there were approximately 527,000 “active” registered Democrats.  So over a period of four years, the number of active registered Democrats in Nevada shrunk by 4,000.

Meanwhile, at the close of registration in 2008, there were about 431,000 “active” registered Republicans in Nevada.  At the close of registration this year, after supposedly being “swamped” by the Democrat voter registration effort, Republicans had about 437,000 “active” registered voters.  An increase of about 6,000.

So over a four-year period, Democrats lost 4,000 voters and Republicans increased their number by 6,000 . . . yet supposedly the Democrats are this huge registration colossus and Republicans were a colossal failure?

Now let’s look at the actual voting numbers:

In 2008, Obama got 533,000 votes in Nevada.  In 2012, he got approximately 529,000.  So in other words, he got about 4,000 fewer votes after losing about 4,000 “active” registered Democrat voters.  Meanwhile, John McCain chalked up about 413,000 votes in Nevada in 2008 while Mitt Romney in 2012 got about 463,000 votes.  In other words, despite gaining just 6,000 additional GOP “active” registered voters, the GOP candidate got an additional 50,000 votes!

How can that be?

Well, at the close of registration in 2008, there were approximately 246,000 “Other” registered voters, voters registered as either non-partisan or with a third party, such as the Libertarian Party or the Independent American Party.  And at the close of registration in 2012, there were about 294,000 “Other” registered voters.

That’s right.  While the vaunted Democrat “Reid Machine” was losing 4,000 registered Democrats and the GOP was adding 6,000 registered Republicans, the “Other” registered voters increased their number by some 48,000.

So as you can see, the problem for Republicans wasn’t that they sucked at voter registration; the problem was Republicans failed to sufficiently win over Nevada’s large and growing “Other” voters.  And I’ll argue that the reason isn’t because the GOP isn’t “moderate” enough, but because it isn’t conservative enough.

Just look at the 48,000 votes the IAP candidate got in this year’s Nevada U.S. Senate race that Republican Dean Heller barely pulled off by just 12,000 votes.

The bottom line is this: The GOP’s problem in Nevada isn’t registration.  It’s that it stands for nothing. The GOP wins not by being a pale imitation of Democrats, but by being conservative.  If only their “leaders” and high-priced consultants understood that.

Chuck Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.com and blogs at MuthsTruths.com.

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