Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nevada U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

September 5, 2006
63 Days Until Election Day

Nevada U.S. Senate

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Freshman Senator John Ensign of Nevada can point to a pretty impressive electoral resume. As a first time candidate in 1994, the well-coiffed Republican was elected to Congress representing the more Democrat half of the Nevada population, back when the state only had two Congressional districts. In 1998, he came from behind to nearly upset Senator Harry Reid, in a race that the incumbent only eked out by a few hundred votes, and then in 2000, Ensign was a rare Republican that year to pick up a Senate seat which had been held by the Democrats.

As he seeks a second term, in a state that is considered a swing state on the federal level, Ensign is regarded as a solid favorite to win reelection, although some observers will be certain to keep an eye on this race for any potential developments.

The Democrat challenger is Jack Carter, the oldest son of the former President. Carter, an investment banker, is a fairly new resident to Nevada, but that is perhaps not as big of a deal as it would be elsewhere as the fastest growing state in the union has been welcoming residents from all over America in recent years.

While Carter is running a fairly liberal campaign, he did go out of his way in the past couple weeks to distance himself from an interview his father gave to a German magazine, in which the one-term President made comments that were considered highly critical of Israel.

Most polls in the past several months had shown Ensign with a very solid lead of upwards of 30 points, but a late July survey by Rasmussen Reports raised some eyebrows and the hopes of many Democrats when Ensign was shown with just a 7 point lead over Carter. That poll is significantly out of line with every other traditional method survey on the race and is likely an outlier, considering a following poll conducted by Mason-Dixon showed Ensign with a 54-33 lead. That result was a slight improvement for Carter over Mason-Dixon’s previous poll on the race, but still nowhere near enough to render Ensign as being very vulnerable.

Democrats are far more bullish about other Senate opportunities around the country and while they would like this to be their sixth most likely pickup opportunity, in order to retake the majority, conventional wisdom is that Ensign should prevail by a fairly solid margin. Still though, some Democrats will refuse to give up the fight, believing that Nevada’s strong organized labor presence and fast growing Hispanic population could make every statewide and Congressional race in the state, currently held by Republicans, competitive.

One side note worth mentioning are the rumors that Nevada’s senior Senator, and the Democrat Leader of the body, Harry Reid is not all that interested in defeating his home-state colleague Ensign. After their bitter and incredibly tight 1998 showdown, the two Senators from Nevada have apparently forged a relationship in which Ensign is believed to have helped pave the way for Reid’s son to become a federal judge, and Reid is said to not be using any influence in Nevada or nationwide to help a Democrat defeat Ensign.

Barring something unexpected, the former veterinarian and casino manager from the GOP will had the Carter family another political defeat in their first attempt in winning public office since 1980, and Ensign will have at least six more years as a key member of the Congressional Republican Baseball team.

Ensign campaign link (take notice of what Congressional Quarterly says is a “Senatorial coif from central casting”) :


2006 Senate races predicted thus far: 10 D, 7 R
Post-election Senate balance of power thus far: 37 D, 47 R