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The Real Economy

What matters to Nebraska and Nevada in the election

David Gura and Sarah Gardner Jan 31, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: David Gura in the studio with us, let me ask you this: Given that the economy in Nebraska is doing so well, how much do they really care about jobs and unemployment and all that stuff? Is it an issue for them for in the election?

David Gura: There’s this sense that they’ve made it through this thing by virtue of grit, of course, through hard work, but also through luck. I mean, they can’t control the price of corn, the price of soybeans, the price of beef — and it’s those prices that have really been high enough to buoy the Nebraska economy. I think maybe it goes to that saying that the health of that slice of the economy — the agricultural economy — is really important. And the Nebraskans I talked to say they really want the government to do all that it can to keep those strong, Kai.

Ryssdal: Sarah Gardner, let me ask you this question, then: The slug on your piece in our filing system was called ‘Nevada swagger,’ and that definitely came through in the piece. Is that enough to get them through, given what’s going on there?

Sarah Gardner: I think they’ve lost a little bit of that swagger. They are very concerned about jobs and the housing market, of course. Although, realistically, they know that no politician is going to come in there, wave a magic wand and their housing crisis is going to be solved overnight. They know they’re in a deep hole there. I think what they are looking for, though, are some serious ideas about how to revive the national economy, because if the national economy is doing well — if you and I are doing well — we’ve got bucks to go to Vegas and spend, and that helps their economy.

Ryssdal: Right. Speaking of going to Vegas, we’re there for the show on Friday in advance of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. Let me ask you the reporter’s notebook question, then, Sarah: What sticks in your mind about this reporting trip you took?

Gardner: What really surprised me was how much the state depends on tourism. Somebody said to me, ‘You know, here in Nevada, we have a Blanche DuBois economy. We depend on the kindness of strangers.’ And they really do — 58 percent of their state revenue comes from gambling and sales taxes. And most of that comes from tourists.

Ryssdal: David Gura, same question to you: What stuck with you?

Gura: I’m going to sound like a real city slicker here, and I’m going to own that, but before I went to Nebraska, I had no sense of how vast, how big some of these farms are. And I had really, really no sense of how high-tech farming has become. I mean, some of these guys have tractors with satellite radios and GPS and that practically drive themselves. And those same farmers, the guys using that equipment, they’re so plugged in to what’s going on around the world — not just in Chicago and New York with the markets there — but with what’s happening overseas. I mean, they could tell me all about what the weather’s been doing in Argentina, and believe me, Kai — they did.

Ryssdal: David Gura and Sarah Gardner and our election coverage, it’s called The Real Economy. Thanks you guys.

Gardner: Thanks Kai.

Gura: Thanks.

Ryssdal: We’ve got interviews with more characters we met on the road in The Real Economy, our coverage of what matters this election cycle.

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