(Proudly cross-posted at MyDD, Swing State Project, Motley Moose, Clark Community Network, & Open Left)
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to see the state of the race for myself. I traveled to the heart of Battleground Country. Because Nevada's 5 electoral votes are up for grabs and two Nevada Republicans may lose their House seats this fall, I wanted to do something to help. That's why I packed my bags, took some spare change for my favorite slot machines (NOT!), and made sure my family in Henderson had an extra bed for me to crash on.
I went to Vegas, baby, and I'm giving you the full report on what's happening there!
Luckily for me, my cousin's house is in the eye of the electoral storm. She lives in the 3rd Congressional District, the part of Nevada where Obama needs to win to carry the state... And the district where a Dina Titus win will give Democrats the majority in Nevada's Congressional Delegation. So when I left my house on Friday, I was thrilled to go to a place where I can double the impact with the same amount of time!
When I arrived in town on Friday night, the Presidential Debate was just ending. I had listened on the radio while my friend Harriet and I were driving up the 15, and I was personally impressed by Obama's performance. Still, I was anxious to find out what my moderate-conservative Republican cousin in Henderson thought about it. And to my surprise, she was also impressed!
Believe it or not, my Republican cousin will be voting for Democrat Barack Obama this fall. Why? Believe it or not, she may be upper middle-class... But she and her husband are still only a couple paychecks away from losing their home. Their house has now lost about $80,000 of its value while they still have to pay an "interest only mortgage" that's now after the "interest only" period. They consider themselves blessed that they have a beautiful house in a great neighborhood just down the hill from the most exclusive estates in the Las Vegas Valley, but they still fear what would happen to them and their two kids if one of them were to have a health scare or lose a job. That's why both my Republican cousin and her Democratic husband are voting for Obama.
And you know what? This isn't an isolated case. In fact, I would find more of this the following two days when I strapped on my tennies and hit the pavement.
On Saturday morning, I regrouped with Harriet and joined with all the other California Obama volunteers who drove to Nevada for the weekend. Before we were sent off to knock doors, we were given the lay of the land. In just four years, Nevada has turned from a Republican plurality state into a state with 80,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans! In the 3rd District alone, Democrats now have a 29,000 voter registration edge! And now in previously GOP friendly Vegas suburbs like Henderson, voters are afraid of losing their jobs, losing their health care, losing their houses, and losing the middle-class American Dream they thought they had achieved. That's why it was critical to get volunteers like us on the ground here to explain to voters what Democrats like
Barack Obama and Dina Titus will do to help working people.
So that's what we did over the next two days. We knocked doors. We talked to voters who still had doubts about Obama. We urged Obama voters to vote early. We reminded everyone not to forget Dina Titus and the state legislature candidates.
Oh yes, and we also listened. We listened as retirees told us about their health care worries. We listened as young people were telling us about their plans to finish college and get a real career. We listened to parents telling us about how they want to leave to their kids a better nation and a healthier planet. We listened to Democrats thrilled about a chance for us to make history (in a good way!). We also listened to Indpendents and Republicans, who have never voted for a Democrat before in their lifetimes, tell us that Barack Obama is the only candidate who they can trust with our nation's future.
And believe it or not, I could count the number of McCain supporters we encountered on our walks with one hand. Even though we were mainly walking middle-class and upper middle-class neighborhoods in leafy (for the desert) suburban Henderson, hardly anyone on our lists turned out to be McCain supporters. This just goes to show how Southern Nevada's changing and how much the people who live here are yearning for real change.
Now I know my experience in Las Vegas last weekend was only a snapshot of what's really happening in Nevada right now. However, I must admit came back on Sunday feeling more confident of the Democratic operation in Nevada. We have a real chance of winning and winning BIG here... But only if we support our Democrats!
There's plenty we can all do to help Democrats win this year. We can drive. We can walk. We can call. And yes, we can give. So please join us in helping in any way you can. The stakes are too high, and we can't afford to lose this time. Let's win, and let's take our country back!