After years of Republicans saying they can win Nevada, this could finally be their year

The state last supported a Republican for president in 2004, when it broke red for President George W. Bush during his reelection bid.

Published: July 7, 2024 10:21pm

Updated: July 8, 2024 6:02am

Recent polls show presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump with a nearly 3 percentage point lead in Nevada over incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden – positioning himself for a November victory that would mark the first time in roughly 20 years that a Republican has won the state in a White House race.

Trump leads Biden 47.8-to-45%, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. His lead increases to 5% in a five-way race that includes the Green Party’s Jill Stein and independents Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West.

Nevada has six electoral votes and could be pivotal in close contest, which is expected as Biden and Trump face off in a rematch of their 2020 race that was close in Electoral College votes.

Biden prevailed in the Electoral College by less that one percentage point in battleground states on his way to victory.  

Trump lost the state but won the presidency in 2016, then lost the state again in 2020 to Biden. 

Republicans have long been optimistic about winning Nevada but this year could be different. A New York Times/Siena poll this spring showed Trump up 12 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup with Biden in Nevada.

"Nevada is a state that, demographically, should be good for the GOP," pollster Mike Noble, of Noble Predictive Insights, told the Desert News.

"There’s a large Latino population that’s shifting right. Nevada is one of the states with the lowest college attainment levels in the country, which should be good for the new, working-class GOP. With how close recent POTUS elections have been, the state is right on the verge of going red in a federal race. It just hasn’t gotten there yet.

The last time a Republican presidential candidate won the state was 2004, in President George W. Bush's reelection bid.

Throughout Trump's 2024 campaign, he has insisted he could win traditionally blue states including his home state of New York as well as New Jersey, Minnesota, and Virginia. Indeed, some polling data has suggested that such states are up for grabs, or within single-digit margins, potentially due to his efforts to directly campaign in such locations.

Nevada at least appears trending red.

In the 2022 midterms, Republicans managed to notch a win at the statewide level, with Republican Joe Repubican Lombardo edging out incumbent Democratic Steve Sisolak for the governorship. The last Republican governor before Lombardo to win the state was Brian Sandoval, who won election to his second term in 2014.

The GOP also managed to narrowly win the state's lieutenant governor and the state controller posts in the 2022 cycle, putting Stavros Anthony and Andy Matthews into those offices, respectively.

Trump’s political weight appears to have been of some benefit this cycle to  Nevada Republicans including the GOP’s Senate nominee, Sam Brown, whom Trump endorsed in a competitive primary.

"Sam Brown is a FEARLESS AMERICAN PATRIOT, a Purple Heart Recipient, who has proven he has the 'PURE GRIT and COURAGE to take on our Enemies, both Foreign and Domestic," Trump posted on Truth Social.

Brown won the nomination in June with more than 59% of the vote and will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Jack Rosen in November.

Brown now trails Rosen by 5.8% in the RCP polling average.

Potentially helping Trump and his Republican allies in is the former president’s plan to end taxes on tips.

Crucial to the Nevada electorate are the state’s service industry workers, many of whom work in Las Vegas, are unionized, vote Democrat and earn much of their money from tips.

Among those unions is the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 that represents roughy 60,000 Nevada hotel staffers, bartenders and casino workers and helped Biden win the state in 2020.

Last month, Trump held a rally in Las Vega's Sunset Park in which he announced his tax plan, in an apparent bid to appeal to that voting bloc. 

"When I get into office, we are going to not charge taxes on tips," he told the crowd. "We're not going to do it, and we're going to do that right away, first thing in office, because it's been a point of contention for years and years and years." 

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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