Las Vegas is turning into election central for the 2016 presidential race. Democrats hold a debate on October 13; Republicans hold a debate on December 15; and the parties will hold the final candidate debate of the presidential election on October 19, 2016.
Nevada is a coveted prize for the candidates. In the primaries, it holds early caucuses, so it’s getting a lot of candidate visits and attention along with Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In the election, it’s considered a swing-state. Republicans did well in recent statewide elections, but President Barack Obama won the state twice in presidential election years.
Nevada’s economy is on the rebound after years of severe contraction. Home prices crashed, unemployment and foreclosures soared in the recession.
But since 2010, unemployment has been cut from 13.7 percent to 6.8 percent. Visitors are coming to play the slots; some are staying to live.
“At this point our economy is finally starting to turn around,” said University of Nevada-Reno economist Eliott Parker. “We have a lot of demand for building new houses, but we don’t have enough people to build them. We don’t have enough water.”
In other words, Nevada faces problems of growth again. And that’s what candidates will be talking to voters about, said historian Michael Green at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
“They have to get across that in the national economy and the international economy, the recovery needs to continue,” he said.
The candidates and parties are particularly keen to woo the growing number of Hispanic voters in the Las Vegas and Reno metro areas. Many of them are Democratic-leaning union members who work in the hospitality and construction industries, which are growing again.
Before the Las Vegas Democratic candidate debate we also spoke with Jeremy Aguero, principal of the economic research firm Applied Analytics, based in Las Vegas.
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