MEMO: State of the Race in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District

State of the Race

Henderson community leader Jacky Rosen has built a campaign to win Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in November. Since she entered the race at the beginning of the year, Rosen has shown herself to be an impressive first-time candidate and a natural on the campaign trail. She has put together a robust grassroots effort to win this open seat in one of the nation’s truly competitive swing districts.

Nevada voters in the 3rd District are responding to Rosen’s message of delivering real solutions for real people, whether it’s creating clean energy jobs, passing bipartisan immigration reform, protecting Social Security and Medicare, enacting commonsense gun safety measures or defending a woman’s right to choose and Planned Parenthood funding.

The race has been a dead heat since she won the primary by a landslide in June, but Rosen’s impressive fundraising, strong polling numbers and weak opponent have given her the momentum to be successful in the final stretch.

Rosen has built-in electoral advantages that could lift her campaign to victory, including a boost in Democratic turnout in a presidential year and the growing voter registration advantage for Democrats in this district. Given the harrowing stories of women accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault and her opponent Danny Tarkanian’s shameful decision to stick with him, the political environment is likely to become even more favorable for Rosen in the final weeks of the cycle.

Favorable Political Environment

Despite challenges for other Democrats in recent election cycles, Rosen comes to the race as a fresh face with a strong profile that reflects the district. The fact remains that NV-03 is a true swing district with the kind of highly educated, suburban voters with whom Trump has struggled. President Obama won the district by one point in 2012 and by eight points in 2008.

Voter registration continues to trend our way. When Rosen entered the race in early 2016, Democrats were at a slight disadvantage to Republicans in NV-03. According to the latest numbers from the Nevada Secretary of State at the end of September, Democrats now hold a two percent (7,196) lead among active registered voters.

Historically, Democratic turnout surges in Nevada in presidential election years. The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Nevada State Democratic Party have built a fully coordinated ground game that will lift down-ballot candidates in Clark County, including Rosen.

Besides the presidential boost in turnout, several ballot initiatives in Nevada — including background checks on gun sales, recreational marijuana, and energy choice — have the potential to energize progressives and increase the Democratic base vote.

Impressive Fundraising

Rosen continues to post strong fundraising numbers and hold a cash on hand advantage. She has raised more than $1 million to date, including more than $580,000 in Quarter 3. Rosen has outraised Tarkanian every quarter since entering the race and ended Quarter 3 with $446,000 cash on hand. She has already launched two television ads — a positive bio spot and an ad highlighting Tarkanian’s extreme positions on Social Security.

Tarkanian’s campaign has struggled, and he was dark on broadcast television in week five. At the end of Quarter 3, Tarkanian finished with just $300,000 on hand and nearly $120,000 in campaign debt.

Strong Polling Numbers

Polling from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has consistently shown Rosen ahead in the district:

In mid-October, the campaign released the results of a new poll that found Rosen with a solid 7-point lead over Tarkanian, 44% to 37%.

In September, the DCCC also found Rosen leading Tarkanian by 7 points, 48% to 41%, in a head-to-head matchup.

In June, the DCCC found Rosen leading Tarkanian by 6 points, 40% to 34%, in a head-to-head matchup.

Even Tarkanian’s internal polling showed him losing ground and Rosen gaining betweenAugust and September.

Outside Spending

While there are two competitive House races in the Las Vegas media market, the DCCC has already run numerous ads against Tarkanian and is poised to spend a total of more than $8 million on television ads here. House Majority PAC is also currently on track to invest nearly $3 million in the Las Vegas media market and is currently on televisioneducating voters on Tarkanian’s personal financial baggage.

In addition, the Democratic Party has invested heavily in this district, helping to build one of the largest congressional field operations in the country, an effort that will identify and mobilize voters for Rosen.

Weak & Extreme Opponent

Danny Tarkanian is the weakest Republican candidate for this seat since it was created after the 2000 census. He is a self-proclaimed “Tea Party radical” whose ideological partisan agenda on issues like women’s health and gun safety is out of touch with swing voters in this moderate district.

At a time when voters are looking for political outsiders to represent them in Washington, Tarkanian is a failed perennial candidate who has spent the last decade running for political office. Here’s a look at his past five races:

  • 2014: Failed candidate for NSHE Board of Regents – dropped out
  • 2012: Failed candidate for 4th Congressional District – lost general election
  • 2010: Failed candidate for U.S. Senate – lost Republican primary
  • 2006: Failed candidate for Nevada Secretary of State – lost general election
  • 2004: Failed candidate for Nevada State Senate – lost general election

Tarkanian continues to be dogged by scandals around his personal finances:

In 2012, Tarkanian was slapped with a $17 million judgment over a loan he guaranteed for a California resort. A court ordered that his wages and assets be garnished.

Tarkanian eventually sought bankruptcy protection, settled for a fraction of the full amount he owed, but then lied about whether he’d paid his debts “in full.”

Tarkanian has a history of not paying his property taxes on time.

Tarkanian was sanctioned and fined by the Nevada Supreme Court “for signing legal papers while his law license was inactive.”

Tarkanian was the registered agent for companies that acted as fronts for fraudulent charities and scammed elderly victims out of millions of dollars.

While every other prominent Nevada Republican withdrew their support from Donald Trump last weekend after shocking video footage showed him bragging about sexual assault, Tarkanian said his reasons for supporting Trump “haven’t changed.” Even after the latest allegations of sexually predatory behavior, Tarkanian still endorses Trump. Huffington Postrecently named Tarkanian one of the four most “outrageous” House candidates in the country, pointing out that he “sounds like Donald Trump” and “could become the next Steve King.”

Political Experts Rate NV-03 a “Tossup”

Political observers like Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, The Cook Political Report, and Roll Call all view Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District as a pure tossup.

Stu Rothenberg wrote that Tarkanian “already has plenty of losses in his resume” and flipping this seat “shouldn’t need a wave” for Democrats.

Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston wrote that “Rosen has impressed in the early going, so a seat only held once by a Democrat may well get its second.”