My post-wave thoughts

I shared some thoughts with my newsletter subscribers this morning, so here they are (you should subscribe because this is a one-time only thing!) with some new thoughts below:




Good morning, everyone. I told you I saw red people.
I hope the Republicans up and down the ticket will give thanks today to the big motivator, the one that drove people to the polls, the 400,000 (!) vote-getting monster. Yes, they should thank---the margin tax. Or NSEA for putting it on the ballot. I kid, I kid. Sorta. This was indeed a Sandoval Sweep, a wave like nothing we have seen in modern history. (RGJ’s Ray Hagar said it has been since 1929 since the GOP owned both houses and all constitutional offices, via Secretary of the Senate David Byerman.) 
I wrote on my early voting blog on Oct. 19, right after early voting started: “It’s a dead heat in Clark County so far. If that keeps up, the GOP wave would be huge.” I repeat that not to brag about my prescience (OK, a little) but to acknowledge that I saw the data, I saw it coming but still didn’t believe how deep it would be. I knew the Assembly was in play – but 10 seats! 10! I knew a statewide sweep was possible, but even some smart Republicans thought Ross Miller and maybe even Kate Marshall would not be washed away by the wave. Some who won will be bragging about their campaigns, but even GOP insiders know: Many superior Democratic candidates lost to inferior Republicans because the wave was too much, they did not see it coming and, perhaps, there was nothing they could do. I always say candidates matter. Not sure that was true Tuesday
I have covered politics here since 1986, and I have never seen anything like this. Erin Bilbray and Lucy Flores didn’t even get to 40 percent. This is dominance from the top to the bottom, elevating one guy (Cresent Hardy) who no one but his consultant, the ever-savvy Ryan Erwin, gave any chance. You can downplay it, diminish it, rationalize it, Democrats. But Team Hutchoval served notice that on every platform – ground (please don’t tell me GOP turnout was low but Democratic turnout was abysmal), air and digital – it can compete and dominate. 
Finally, a hat tip to so many candidates who must be exhausted and drained today. It is not easy to put your name on a ballot. Some very good people lost, too. I won’t name a lot of names, but I will name one. I think Cresent Hardy was a fine assemblyman, but Steven Horsford, whom I lacerated for his 2011 legislative leadership, came into his own as a House member and did a superb job as a freshman. I have known Horsford for a couple of decades. He has been through worse – his childhood, his health issue. He’ll be back. Take that to the bank. 
Can’t wait for 2016. 
What’s below is a first blush, and a sleep-deprived blush at that. I will have a lot more to say. Then, you knew that already. I always do. 
I see red people.
A quick, partial list: 
Brian Sandoval: His peerless political skills and winning (literally now) persona helped elevate candidates who had no business winning or even being on the ballot. He has all the tools, folks. Now we will see if he can really do something with all that political capital. He will be floated as a possible Reid challenger, vice-presidential candidate and more. I still see a Cabinet slot in his future. All depends what he decides he wants after the 2015 session. 
Sheldon Adelson: Gondolier Numero Uno had a lot to do with what happened. His lieutenant Andy Abboud oversaw an effort that dumped a lot of money into the GOP effort late, including $250,000 to the governor’s PAC. He almost singlehandedly elevated Adam Laxalt to the attorney general’s office and gave $75,000 to Engage Nevada, which is the hidden story of this year, the registration/GOTV effort. Adelson has not had much success in state politics before (I don’t think he brags about Jim Gibbons.). This is what success looks like. 
Team Hutchoval: Mike Slanker and Jeremy Hughes did this, folks. Yes, Pete Ernaut is the governor’s guru and a nonpareil strategist. But these guys had a plan, they executed it on all platforms, especially digital. Slanker even had a hand in Joe Lombardo’s win for Clark County sheriff. The wave was always going to happen. They made the wave bigger. 
Chris Carr: The quiet, invisible man who ran Engage Nevada helped register and then turn out GOP voters. Carr is a smart, relentless, determined guy, who with his data man, Joe Catania, took his time and relentlessly worked to target the right areas, the right voters. He won’t take any credit, but he deserves a lot. 
Billy Rogers/Michael Roberson: Rogers showed again that he knows how to identify voters and get the right message to them. He won those state Senate races going away. There is no one better. I could argue – and probably will again – that this election was over in 2013 when Roberson proposed that mining tax increase and the Democrats ran away and hid. He was implacable and ruthless and steady. Maybe HE should run against Harry Reid. 
Harry Reid/the machine: When you are at the top, when you run a perfect campaign (2010), when you dominate three cycles in a row, there is only one way to go. The majority leader has to wear this, at least in part, even though I don’t buy the argument that a second- or third-tier gubernatorial candidate would have changed a thing. Yes, the dynamic changes starting today – 2016 map/matrix/turnout much different. But this was a blow and a big one. 
Tax reform/ed funding: Gov. Sandoval and soon-to-be-ex Speaker Kirkpatrick had been talking about a tax package and tax reform and all kinds of quid pro quos. So now Sandoval can do whatever he wants with two GOP houses, right? Oh no. And that 4-to-1 margin tax drubbing will just make it harder. 
Senate Democrats: The mo’ is not with Mo. He probably wasn’t going to be leader again anyhow. But I am sure the long knives are out already. Most ambitious: Aaron Ford. Winter is coming, Sen. Denis.
Here‘s a story you heard here first: Mitt Romney is running for president. Why do I say that? No, not because he called Sandoval to congratulate him. But here’s something I bet you didn’t know: Late in the cycle, his PAC gave $50,000 (!) to the subterranean GOTV effort for the Republicans, Engage Nevada. 
Romney-Sandoval, ’16!
Reports of Harry Reid’s demise are---- He will be the leader again. He will also run again, barring any health concerns for him or his family. (Best wishes to his daughter, who is very ill and whose condition must have really taken Reid away from the game the last few weeks.) 
But if you want to see if Prince Harry is still Prince Harry, look what he allowed his chief of staff to do.
I alluded to this up top, but the governor has to now take ownership of what he has wrought in the Assembly. Pat Hickey is a reasonable guy and could be a great speaker (he has the votes). But I’d guess he hasn’t even met some of the people in his new caucus, and some are, as I have said, part of the drool-and-mumble club. Some of the new folks will make good legislators – or have potential. But watching Hickey and Sandoval try to corral some of these people is going to be one of the greatest pleasures of my career. One great fact: Assemblyman Brent Jones ran for the state Senate in 2012 in a vicious primary that helped cost Mari St. Martin a seat in the state Senate. Now she is the governor’s press secretary. God, I love Nevada.



►Gov. Brian Sandoval gave $125,000 to Chris Carr's group. He was on this in the air, in the mail and on the ground.

►Another big winner: Ryan Erwin, the GOP consultant who was the only one who ever said his client, Cresent Hardy, could win, and who shepherded Joe Heck to a smashing victory. Erwin is as savvy and steady as they come. And another: Mining. They spent nothing and won. As potent as 1864.

341,175 votes were cast in Clark County. Check this out:

6,000 voters did not cast ballots in the AG's race. That hurt Ross Miller. Wouldn't have turned race, but....

About 80,000 voters on average did not cast ballots in judicial races. But don't you dare pass appointive judges.

Question 2 lost by 3,400 votes overall. In Clark, where it won by 32,000 votes, but about 15,000 voters skipped it.

Larry Burns lost the sheriff's race by 7,000 votes. 40,000 voters skipped that race. Too far down-ballot?

Turnout sucked all over. Percentages of each area in turnout: Clark, 62 percent (6 points below registration, killer for Dems); Washoe, 21 percent (1 point above); rurals (17 percent, 5 points above, rising the tide for Republicans).

Randy Kirner won his Assembly race by 11 votes out of 20,600 votes cast. Wow.

Two names floated so far for Mark Hutchison's state Senate seat: Police union chief Chris Collins and Assemblyman Wes Duncan. Has to be a Republican who can pass the Democratic County Commission.

Rural dominance: Steven Horsford won Clark by about 2,000 votes; he lost the rurals by 5,500 votes. Ross Miller won Clark County by 19,000 votes and Washoe by 2,000 votes; he lost the rurals by 26,000 votes! 

I will add more thoughts as they occur to me....

►Kudos to Greg Ferraro and the Appeals Court team who passed Question 1. In this year of NO, they got a big YES. 

One more winner: Republican Attorneys General Association. Their ads pounding Ross Miller on gifts were some of the best of the cycle. They drew blood. Adam Laxalt rode the wave, but without RAGA (paging Sheldon Adelson), he may not have been lifted high enough.

The folks at RCG Economics have compiled some illuminating numbers on the election.

More numbers:

Statewide turnout was 45 percent. Every rural county had much greater turnout than Clark, which was by far the lowest at 41 percent. Washoe was 52 percent. Most rurals were close to or above 60 percent.

That Clark number is why Democrats lost almost everything.

Here's the list of percentages, via SOS:

Carson City: 60

Churchill: 61

Clark: 41

Douglas: 62

Elko: 56

Esmeralda: 66

Eureka: 80

Humboldt: 69

Lander: 83

Lincoln: 60

Lyon: 47

Mineral: 52

Nye: 51

Pershing: 70

Storey: 78

Washoe: 52

White Pine: 64