As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nevada's Electoral Jackpot?

Todd Beeton looks at Barack Obama's Western state appeal, and while he agrees that Colorado and New Mexico look pretty good, Nevada may be out of reach.

Polling says otherwise. Rasmussen Reports found Barack Obama trailing John McCain by 6 points last month. Bush won Nevada in 2004 by just 3%. The poll represents a 1 point uptick for McCain in Nevada since April and is a full 11 points worse than Hillary Clinton polled against McCain in the state. Obama is performing this badly at a time when, thanks to the hotly contested caucuses in January, Democratic registration and involvement is up.

Of course, since that Rasmussen poll was there's also been an additional facet to the race: the all-important "the governor's a scumbag adulterer who won't be able to show his face in public and campaign for the ticket" effect.

Gibbons filed for divorce last month, saying he and Dawn were incompatible. Since then, the first couple has brawled over custody of the 23-room governor's mansion. (Dawn finally agreed to sleep in the guesthouse.) She has accused him of cheating. He says "absolutely not."

Gibbons, 63, lacks the looks and charm of a Gavin Newsom or Antonio Villaraigosa -- yet the governor is now trailed like a club-hopping starlet.

The Republican governor has been spotted with his alleged paramour, according to published reports, at a sushi bar and at her daughter's high school play. He escorted another woman to the movie "Sex and the City." A Las Vegas paper posted video of him chatting with a dark-haired woman whose face is mostly obscured. The headline: "Video of governor with 'other woman' surfaces." [...]

Conservative activist Chuck Muth says the governor needs to clean up the mess. "If they get divorced -- this is Nevada, for crying out loud -- it's not a big deal. But a messy divorce, that's trouble for everyone."

The governor won't face voters until 2010 -- a political eternity -- but GOP activists fret that his purported philandering could hurt the party in November. What if fed-up Republicans pare back campaign contributions -- or stay home on election day? That could flip control of the state Senate, where Republicans cling to a slender majority -- or even hand Nevada, which twice voted for President Bush, to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"You're going to have candidates begging the governor not to come into their district because he'll make things worse," Muth says.

This is alternatively known as the Robert Taft (Ohio Gov. caught up in Coingate) effect. Ohio went completely blue in 2006 because the Governor's troubles impacted every Republican. So too in Nevada, perhaps. Especially since John McCain loves him some nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, which I'm sure Obama will spell out in ads.

Libertarian Nevada doesn't care about a high-profile politician getting divorced and fooling around on the side, but enough people might - social conservatives and Latinos in particular - to flip a very close state. And if Gibbons can't help the state GOP, they're robbed of a valuable asset.

UPDATE: Ooh, text messages.

You know that unidentified estranged wife of a Reno doctor that the governor of Nevada is not having an affair with?

Well, during one month last year he exchanged 850 text messages with her phone from his official state phone, at 15 cents per.

This is going to get worse and really damage the Nevada GOP.

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