Biden moves to stave off surprise loss in Nevada

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Could Nevada be the Michigan of 2020 — a state Democrats figured they had in the bag but that unexpectedly goes for Donald Trump?

One particular stat about the state has troubled Democrats all cycle: Hillary Clinton won it by less than she lost Arizona, the neighboring battleground. Guarding against any overconfidence, Joe Biden is visiting Nevada during his Western swing on Friday.

Biden leads Donald Trump in Nevada by an average of 7 points, but the state hasn’t received much attention and Democrats are relieved Biden is traveling there. Many Latinos within the party have warned that Biden can’t take the state for granted. Despite his fundraising advantage, Biden is poised to spend $2.3 million on TV in the state between now and Election Day, compared to $3.2 million for Trump, according to media tracker Advertising Analytics. (Trump is spending nothing on Spanish-language in Nevada, compared to $200,000 by Biden.)

Biden is spending more in Arizona: Two weeks in a row, he’s dropped more in the enormous Phoenix media market than in any other market in the country.

Democratic Latino pollsters and outside groups have been wary of a rightward lurch in the Silver State. In September, the Cook Political Report moved Nevada from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat.”

Latino voters: So far Trump hasn’t crossed the 30 percent threshold with Latino voters in Nevada, a key marker that Democrats hope will prevent him from securing an upset in the state.

A recent poll from Latino-run Democratic firm Equis Research showed Trump at 26 percent among Latinos, the same as in late August. Meanwhile, Biden runs slightly ahead of Clinton’s final number, nabbing 62 percent support with the key demographic.

To keep Trump below that threshold, outside groups are dropping more cash into the state. This week, Somos PAC launched $1 million in TV and radio Spanish-language buys aimed at reintroducing Biden to Latinos, covering his family history and time as vice president.

“The thing about Nevada is that we just haven’t seen as much focus or interest in the state as we saw in 2016,” said Melissa Morales, president of Somos PAC.

Chuck Rocha, former adviser to Bernie Sanders, who ran the senator’s Latino outreach that led to a victory in the primary, is trying to engage the younger Latinos who powered Sanders’ win.

An ad from his Nuestro PAC features Latinos who voted for Sanders in the primary and are now behind Biden, citing his climate change and student debt proposals.

Geocanda Arguello-Kline, secretary treasurer of the Culinary Union, said more than 200 of her members are canvassing neighborhoods to drive turnout and help voters understand changes in voting options.

Trump’s move: The president’s campaign is making a run at Nevada. Trump visited the state in September and Vice President Mike Pence held a rally there on Thursday, a day after his debate against Sen. Kamala Harris in neighboring Utah.

At the rally on Thursday, Pence touted the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming they saved “countless American lives.” Trump contracted the virus last week and the country’s death toll has topped 211,000.

The pandemic has hit Nevada particularly hard with tourism down and unemployment at one of the highest rates in the country.

But Trump’s team sees room for growth, given the close outcome in 2016 when he lost by 2.4 points. Republicans have targeted Mormon voters in the state, hoping to win back those who rejected him in greater numbers than prior Republican candidates. Nevada and Arizona are home to more than half a million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A New York Times-Siena College poll this week gave Trump a slight edge among voters over 65 and showed most of his support coming from Reno and rural parts of the state. Biden led overall in the poll, 48 to 42 points.

On defense: On Friday, Biden will visit East Las Vegas, which is home to a large number of Latinos, and will deliver remarks at a drive-in car event at a second stop in the city.

Biden’s campaign has also focused on digital outreach and partnering with influencers on social media in Nevada to reach younger Latinos.

“Nevada is always a battleground,” a Biden adviser said on call with reporters this week.

“We take nothing for granted. That’s why the vice president is going there.”

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