Mar 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

"Basically a jump ball": Biden faces warning signs in key swing state Nevada

President Biden walks across a blue carpet at a campaign rally.

President Biden at a campaign event in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

Allies of President Biden believe that of the six swing states everyone is watching, Nevada — which he won by two points in 2020, and where both U.S. senators are Democrats — could be especially tough.

Why it matters: How Democrats do in Nevada could determine control of both the White House and the Senate, since the Silver State also has one of the nation's tightest Senate races.

Zoom in: Republicans have made gains with Latino voters and people without college degrees — particularly significant voting blocs in the state. And economic trends look bleak for Biden:

  • Nevada has the nation's highest unemployment rate — 5.3%
  • The state's average gas prices are the nation's third highest — $4.23 a gallon (behind only California and Washington state).
  • Nevada home prices have jumped six times faster than wages since 2011, according to a recent study.
  • The Biden campaign counters that Nevada's economy has added 285,000 jobs in the last three years and has seen a manufacturing resurgence.

Senior Biden officials have told outside allies their internal data has the race much closer than last time — "basically a jump ball right now, with a lot of undecided voters," said a person familiar with the Biden campaign's thinking.

  • Former President Trump has been leading Biden in Nevada polls, including a 3-point lead in an Emerson College survey out yesterday.
  • A warning sign for Biden: That poll had a fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), up by just 2 points over Sam Brown, the leading GOP candidate trying to unseat Rosen.

The big picture: The other states that the Biden and Trump campaigns are watching most closely are Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Between the lines: The GOP has scored big wins among voters without college degrees, who account for a huge portion of Nevada voters.

  • Just 26.5% of Nevadans have a bachelor's degree or more.
  • That's well below the national average of 34.3% — and is lower than the other five swing states likely to decide the election: Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Republicans also have made gains in attracting Latino voters in recent elections.

  • Nevada's population is nearly a third Latino — and Trump has been making inroads particularly among working-class Latinos. Some surveys have shown him polling above 40%.

What they're saying: "Every battleground state will be close, and Nevada ... will be no different," said Dan Kanninen, the battleground states director for Biden's campaign.

  • "We have a strong record to run on in the state and a battle-tested operation at the helm that is putting in the work to win."

Go deeper: Nevada swing voters consider flipping back to Trump

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