The blue wave fizzled into more of a blue splash nationwide, but not in Nevada, where Democrats tightened their grip on the Silver State by squeezing out Republicans up and down the ballot in what was only recently a swing state.
Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak became first Democrat to be elected governor in 20 years with his defeat of Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, while Democrats picked up more legislative seats after flipping the state legislature blue two years ago.
Democratic candidates also captured every statewide office except for secretary of state, which incumbent Republican Barbara Cegavske won by 0.7 percent, reported The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
On the federal level, Rep. Mark Amodei is now the only Republican left in the congressional delegation with Tuesday’s defeats of Sen. Dean Heller, who lost to Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, and Rep. Cresent Hardy, who was defeated by Democrat Steven Horsford.
Democrats framed their success in part as a backlash against President Trump, saying opposition to his policies on immigration and other issues helped push voter turnout well above the 2014 midterm levels.
About 62 percent of state voters cast ballots on Tuesday, well above the 45 percent who turned out in 2014, according to The Nevada Independent.
“Donald Trump said that he was on the ballot in this election,” said Ms. Rosen in her Tuesday night victory speech. “Well, I’m really proud to say that Nevada responded accordingly.”
At the same time, it’s true that the party has benefited from enormous net migration, including an estimated 150,000 Californians since 2007, who often keep their Democratic registration even after fleeing the liberal one-party state.
“I think the biggest factor in this election was turnout, particularly in Las Vegas and Clark County, and particularly among younger voters,” said University of Nevada Las Vegas law school professor Ian Bartrum.
“I think you can attribute that to Trump’s deep unpopularity with minorities and the younger demographic, especially in the southern part of the state,” he said. “I suspect the rapid growth of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, including folks from California and other urban areas, contributed something as well.”
Indeed, Republican candidates warned on the campaign trail that Nevada could become “Eastern California” and promised to hold the line against a tide of progressivism.
Then there’s the money. In 2018, Nevada Republicans in competitive federal races were outspent by Democrats across the board. In the Senate race, for example, Ms. Rosen amassed $21 million to Mr. Heller’s $14 million.
In House races, Mr. Horsford outraised Mr. Hardy by $1.8 million to $771,000, while Democrat Susie Lee raised $4.5 million to Republican Danny Tarkanian’s $1.9 million for the seat being vacated by Ms. Rosen, the Center for Responsive Politics reported.
Then there’s the Tom Steyer factor. In 2016, the San Francisco billionaire made a play for Nevada, sinking $70,000 into the campaigns of five Democratic state Assembly candidates, whose victories allowed the party to leapfrog the Republican majority.
Mr. Steyer’s NextGen Climate also invested $260,000 into the 2016 ground game, and boosted Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto by spending $290,000 on her behalf and $420,000 against her Republican foe, according to Western Wire.
In 2018, Mr. Steyer vowed to spend $2 million to defeat Mr. Heller. His NextGen Climate alone spent $1 million combined for Ms. Rosen and against Mr. Heller.
NextGen’s biggest Nevada investment may have come with Question 6, a ballot measure to increase the renewable-energy mandate, which was approved 59 to 41 percent. The Steyer-funded group spent $10 million to pass the measure.