Nevada Democratic Voters Close In on Republicans

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Nevada Democrats made more voter registration gains in June and by the end of the month were only 1 percent below Republicans, according to a report Thursday from Secretary of State Dean Heller.

Heller said voter registration at the end of June stood at 882,602. The 363,463 Republicans accounted for 41 percent of the total, and the 354,950 Democrats accounted for 40 percent. The difference between the two parties is 8,513, down from 10,131 at the end of May.

Nonpartisans accounted for another 15 percent of the end-of-June total, and the remaining 4 percent included Independent American, Libertarian, Green, Natural Law, Reform and other splinter party members.

Heller didn't have totals so far this month - but Democrats added in the latest numbers from the Las Vegas area and said the Republican registration advantage now is only 5,140 statewide.

The Democrats also said they now outnumber Republicans in GOP Rep. Jon Porter's congressional district, although Republicans questioned whether that will translate into actual votes in November.

"With Nevada being declared a 'battleground state,' the registration numbers will most likely continue a steady upward climb as more and more groups work to enlist additional voters," Heller said.

"As we draw nearer to this year's elections, we're continuing to see the voter registration totals between the two major parties inch closer and closer each month."

While registration is rising, mainly due to interest in the presidential race and in contentious initiative petitions, state Demographer Jeff Hardcastle noted there are nearly 1.7 million eligible voters. That means nearly 800,000 Nevadans who could vote haven't registered.

Heller said the current voter count represents 52 percent of the possible voters, and he's hoping to see an eventual registration "well above the 65 percent mark." But even if 70 percent of the possible voters signed up, half a million eligible Nevadans still would be absent from the polls this fall.

Close of registration for the Sept. 7 primary is Aug. 17. For the Nov. 2 general election, the shut-off date for registration is Oct. 12.

A breakdown of the June registration totals by congressional district shows a difference of only 718 between the 126,966 Republicans and 126,248 Democrats in Rep. Porter's Dist. 3 as of the end of June.

Summers said that when Clark County totals so far this month are included, Democrats now outnumber GOP voters in the district by more than 450, and that's good news for Democrat Tom Gallagher, who's giving the incumbent a strong challenge.

Summers credited the registration shift to strong get-out-the-vote efforts by Democrats, adding, "You have to give Bush his credit. He does a lot of work for us with his failed policies."

Chris Carr, the state Republican Party's executive director, said Democrats have benefited from "all these organizations that are basically John Kerry shadow campaigns doing voter registration."

"We're picking up our efforts as we speak," he added. "We understand that we have our work cut out for us."

"The liberals are spending millions of unreported dollars to register God knows who," said Porter campaign consultant Mike Slanker. "I would hazard to guess that a majority of those (Democratic) registrants aren't going to be showing up on election day."

Lopsided margins prevailed at the end of June in Dist. 1, represented by Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley, with 106,931 Democrats and 73,125 GOP voters; and in Dist. 2, represented by Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons, with 163,322 Republicans and 121,745 Democrats.

A breakdown of the state's 42 Assembly districts, all up this year, shows that 24 of the districts have registrations favoring Democrats while 18 favor Republicans.

Ten of the 21 state Senate seats are up this year, and GOP voters dominate in five of those while Democrats have the margin in the other five.

The 2002 elections gave Republicans a 13-8 advantage in the state Senate and gave Democrats a 23-19 majority in the Assembly.


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