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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Nevada

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March 14, 2012 at 5:30 AM

Romney's problems with evangelicals doomed him in Alabama and Mississippi, will likely continue

Rick Santorum is Roman Catholic. This is not news: he is far from shy about his Catholicism. More generally, he is as outspoken about religious faith as any major presidential candidate who’s had success has ever been.

Santorum swept Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi last night. This is no small matter. Catholics don’t win GOP primaries often, and certainly not in the South, where evangelicals make up large percentages of the Republican electorate. Among yesterday’s voters, 74% in Alabama self-identified as evangelical, and 80% in Mississippi self-identified as evangelical.

I study religion and politics in America. I find it almost impossible to believe that Santorum would be winning Republican primaries in the South were his central rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney, not Mormon in religious faith.


Comments | Topics: advertising, Alabama, Caucuses

March 1, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Will the "Mormon vote" swing Washington's GOP caucuses to Mitt Romney?

A billboard from the I'm a Mormon campaign.

A billboard from the I'm a Mormon campaign, aimed to fight stereotypes about Mormons, hangs over South Seattle (Photo by Alex Stonehill/UW Election Eye)

If you’ve seen those I’m a Mormon billboards around Seattle and have been following the presidential campaign, you might have concluded that there’s a coordinated effort to bring the Mormon faith (known officially as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) further into the public sphere.

Mitt Romney is certainly closer to being president than any Mormon ever has been before. In advance of the Republican caucuses this Saturday, he is in town today for a fundraising dinner in Medina and tomorrow plans a “meet and greet” in Bellevue – where Marion G. Romney, a cousin of Mitt’s father, oversaw the groundbreaking and dedication of the large LDS temple in 1978.

The Romneys go back, way back, in Mormon history. But that doesn’t mean the LDS church is pushing him as a candidate.


Comments | Topics: church, delegates, Latter Day Saints

February 13, 2012 at 6:30 AM

The culture war and Rick Santorum return to Washington: Susan G. Komen, contraception, Catholics, and same-sex marriage

Rick Santorum at the Cable Center in Denver, Colo., on Feb. 6. The candidate was talking with supporters at his campaign (Photo by Corey Christiansen / UW Election Eye)

The culture war is back.

Actually, it never left. Ideological struggles over reproductive rights, sexuality, gender norms, evolution, and public religious expressions have continued apace, but have taken a backseat to the worst economic crisis the nation has faced since the Great Depression. National unemployment rates crested over 10% in 2009 and now reside at 8.3%, leading some conservatives to call for a “truce” on social issues in this election.

It isn’t back with the same strength as the mid-2000s, when conservative opponents of abortion rights and same-sex marriage were on the winning political side. In 2003, Congress passed legislation banning late-term abortions and the next year 11 states passed ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage. The conservative energy behind these laws helped George W. Bush secure a second term in the White House. Times have changed: political progressives are now on the offense.

So it isn’t quite a full-on culture war — yet. That could change today, however, when our own Washington state becomes the epicenter of one front of this clash: same-sex marriage.

And one thing to note: Rick Santorum has been waiting for this moment, while Mitt Romney has been dreading it.


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Caucuses, Christine Gregoire

February 6, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Nevada GOP's fail whale: A warning to all political organizations

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — Storify is a software that enables a media-rich method of synthesizing and telling of a story. We employ it here to document and interpret key moments in the Nevada Republican Party’s decision to use — and trumpet — technologies such as Google and Twitter to digitally publicize caucus results.

But they failed to provide a crucial element: The analog infrastructure actually required to count handmarked ballots.

Consider this a cautionary tale for all political organizations, including the Republican Party in Washington state, which hosts caucuses slightly less than a month from today.


Comments | Topics: campaign oddities, caucus, Caucuses

February 6, 2012 at 7:05 AM

Ann Romney and Ann Romney on the Campaign Trail

Ann Romney

Ann Romney stageside as her husband, Mitt, spoke at a campaign rally in Irmo, SC on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (Photo by Lindsey Meeks / UW Election Eye)

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — The Democratic National Committee is fond of making the case that there are two versions of Mitt Romney. The two take different positions on issues, the DNC contends, depending on the day.

I think there are two versions of Ann Romney.

News profile piece after piece paints Ann Romney as a political partner who is contributing a great deal to her husband’s campaign. They say she acts as a Mitt-stabilizer — earning her nickname “Serenity” among the press corps — and has, in the words of the Boston Globe, “latched on to her surrogacy role with zeal, providing potent testimony to her husband’s character.”

Coverage casts her as bubbling, humanizing, and charming. Journalists and pundits regularly note her standard stump speech about raising five boys, and how when her husband decided he wanted to run again, she asked if he could save the country. The stories, aside for commenting on a few fashion faux pas, are glowing.

I had a different experience.


Comments | Topics: Ann Romney, Mitt Romney, Nevada

February 5, 2012 at 6:30 AM

In search of Sheldon Adelson, finding a UW alum and a community treasure

The entrance to the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin, NV is a shining glass dome. We visited the private Jewish community school the Friday before the state's caucus. (Photo courtesy of

LAS VEGAS — Media and punditry buzz over Sheldon Adelson hit a crescendo this week. Time, then, for us to get an insider’s view of the impact of this multi-billionaire casino mogul and entrepreneur — literally.

We did, thanks to a UW alum in the desert.

Adelson is the multi-billionaire casino mogul who has bankrolled the Newt Gingrich campaign with millions of dollars in super PAC donations. He has a reach that is far and wide in Las Vegas.

We decided to go to a place that has received a great deal of attention: the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus (AEC), where the highest-profile Republican caucus in the state was held last night, after other caucus sites were closed, for citizens whose religious faith precluded them from caucusing during Saturday daytime.

What we found was not Adelson, but a Jewish community centerpiece.

UW Election Eye colleagues David Domke, A. V. Crofts and I drove north from downtown, to an area of gated communities and tan, Spanish-style buildings. This had manicured written all over it, and I questioned if we would be able to enter the campus. Recollections of my own time at a Jewish Day School in Bellevue told me to expect a protective fence.

And we found one, a tall, strong fence, with a security guard in front of it. With a school logo on his jacket, the guard asked to see our credentials. He crosschecked the schedule of visits — the three of us knew we weren’t on it, and we braced ourselves to be summarily dismissed. Not finding our name, the guard called into the school to check if someone there was expecting us. That was going to be another no-go, we knew.

“We have about a 30 percent chance of getting into this place,” Domke said. I thought this was wildly optimistic.

Soon an employee emerged from behind the fence and curtly told us that we did not have an appointment, and informed us in no uncertain terms that we would not be entering — unless we wanted to return for the public caucus.

Domke asked if there was any possible way to talk to someone else. The guard mentioned a name and said we could call her. He did not offer a phone number, but I had it. Domke dialed, and while he did, I snuck away to snap whatever photos I could of the elusive school. We would be leaving in about 60 seconds, I figured, so I’d get what I could.

Moving along the tall shrubbery, I caught glimpses of the buildings inside. A glass dome, artfully flanked by palm trees, marked the school’s entrance. In front of the doors, twin metal doves arched their wings skyward atop an outdoor statue. As I contorted to try to get the best photo angle of the flying Israeli flag, Domke called me over.

We were going in.

It turns out that the school’s Director of Development is a 1997 University of Washington graduate. When we agreed to focus on the school and not the caucus, she agreed to give us 10 minutes, but with no quotes on the record.

She ended up giving us 45 minutes, a tour, and a recorded interview.


Comments | Topics: Caucuses, Cultural sights, education

February 4, 2012 at 8:10 PM

The War Room: Where Nevada votes are counted

Panorama of the War Room

LAS VEGAS — The Palazzo Hotel’s Dos Caminos restaurant is the temporary home of the Nevada caucus – “First in the West!” — press filing room. We gained entrance a few hours ago. What the room has in clever Americana décor, it lacks in media enthusiasm.

Scattered around the largely empty space were a handful of reporters, quietly clacking away on their laptops, with elevated plasma televisions projecting Google’s election website. Periodically, a news crew sauntered up to the vacant podium to film a results speculation, but otherwise the room was calm. A back-lit Google sign hung over the complementary goodies in the corner — vases of M&Ms arranged by color, rows of fruit and swag sunglasses. .

We idled here for two hours with little activity earlier this morning. But then we were ready for more.

Enter Ryan Mahoney, a young Communications and Research spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. He was our “in” to what the Nevada GOP was calling the War Room: where county caucus results were aggregated and general election oversight took place.

We followed Mahoney past the casino floor, passing a huge fire-breathing Chinese dragon — not kidding — as we chatted amicably about Twitter and Mahoney’s love of politics. (Oh and there’s also a waterfall decorated with oversized Chinese coins and lanterns — the place is ridiculous in the best way.)

Mahoney navigated the convoluted hotel briskly, obviously familiar with its labyrinth of high-end shops, Italian restaurants and Blue Man Group ticket counters. By the time we popped inside an elevator, I was at a loss for our location. Just as he intended.


Comments | Topics: caucus, Caucuses, counting votes

February 4, 2012 at 6:21 PM

In Passing: La Choza #2 Mexican Restaurant

"In Passing" posts capture shorter snapshots of places and people we encounter on the road. (Photos courtesy of Alex Stonehill, A.V. Crofts and Flickr Creative Commons/UW Election Eye) LAS VEGAS – When we exit the Summerlin Parkway in Las Vegas on to North Rancho Drive, at first the shops and scenery reflect the outskirts of any…


Comments | Topics: Cultural sights, Florida, food

February 4, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Romney's Henderson Rally: Locking Down Nevada

HENDERSON — Two hours before a rally here on caucus eve, Metro Pizza buzzed with Mitt Romney supporters, but the owners, cousins John Arena and Sam Facchini, welcomed the throngs with seasoned calm. “We’ve dealt with a number of US Presidents — Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Clinton,” said Facchini with a we’ve-been-here-before look.

So, considering the cross-partisan visitors who had made pilgrimages to “Las Vegas’ Favorite Pizza,” were they Romney supporters?

“I support Mitt Romney,” said Facchini. “He’s a job creator, and so are we.”

Arena smiled and put it more delicately this way: “I’m a fan of the system … I don’t make up my mind who to vote for till the day of the polls.”

The Henderson crowd was diverse — multigenerational families, people of color, groups of women and couples chatted excitedly. They came out to see the man they hoped would replace Barack Obama in the White House.


Comments | Topics: henderson, Mitt Romney, Nevada

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