• September 19, 2021

Exclusive: Biden cleaned up at the legislative level in Nevada, but Democrats fell short of supermajority goals

 Exclusive: Biden cleaned up at the legislative level in Nevada, but Democrats fell short of supermajority goals


Democrats instead emerged with a 26-16 advantage in the Assembly after the Republicans flipped three seats, which cost Team Blue the supermajority they’d won in 2018. And while Democrats needed to net just one seat to win two-thirds control in the Senate, the GOP instead scored a win that reduced the Democratic edge to 12-9. The entire Assembly goes before voters every two years, but only half of the Senate seats are on the ballot in presidential years while the rest are up in midterm cycles. 

One tough problem for Democrats is that the Republicans benefited from what little crossover support there was: The GOP holds one Assembly seat that voted for Biden as well as two Senate constituencies, while no Trump turf is in Democratic hands. That assemblywoman is Jill Tolles, who won without any general election opposition even as Biden was pulling off a 49-48 victory in her Reno-area district; four years ago, it was Trump who defeated Clinton 48-44 in AD-25.

The most competitive Democratic-held seat, meanwhile, is the 29th District around Henderson in the Las Vegas suburbs. This constituency supported Biden 50-48 after backing Trump 47-46, and Democratic incumbent Leslie Cohen turned back her Republican opponent 51-49.

In the upper chamber, both GOP-held Biden seats were on the ballot last year. One of them is SD-15, which includes all of Tolles’ constituency. (In Nevada, two Assembly districts are nested within each Senate district.) Biden prevailed by a convincing 52-45 four years after Clinton won it by a much smaller 47-44, but Republican incumbent Heidi Gansert, a well-connected politician who once served as chief of staff to former Gov. Brian Sandoval, was reelected 52-48. 

The other crossover seat is also the site of Team Red’s one Senate pickup. SD-05, which includes Cohen’s seat, supported Biden 51-47, also a shift to the left from Clinton’s 48-46 margin. Republican Carrie Buck, however, won the open seat race 48.8-48.3, a margin of about 330 votes.

The reddest Democratic-held constituency is also in the Las Vegas area, though it wasn’t on the ballot this year. In 2018, Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop prevailed 52-48 to succeed retiring incumbent Patricia Farley, who had beaten her as a Republican in 2014 only to become a Democratic-aligned independent right after the 2016 elections. SD-08 backed Biden 50-48, which was similar to Clinton’s 48-47 performance.

What makes Biden’s district-level performance so notable is that in most states where we’ve crunched the numbers for so far, he’s won a smaller proportion of districts than his statewide share of the vote, typically thanks to Republican gerrymanders. Nevada’s current map, though, wasn’t designed to favor Democrats; rather, it was drawn by a federal judge after Sandoval and the Democratic-led legislature failed to agree on new lines a decade ago.

That, however, is likely to change soon. Unlike the situation a decade ago, Democrats now have full control of state government following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s victory in 2018. That would allow them to pass their own gerrymanders, and potentially win the two-thirds supermajorities that eluded them last year.





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