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Nevada's Presidential Campaigns Use Early Voting Strategies



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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, November 01, 2012

For the presidential campaigns in Nevada, it's already election day. Polling places have been open for a week and a half. The get-out-the-vote effort is going above and beyond door knocking and phone banking.

Last Friday afternoon, Obama's supporters visited Reno-area Latino businesses with a mariachi band wearing white suits with gold buttons.  

"Voting doesn't have to be a difficult thing. It should be fun," says Linda Serrato, Reno Press Secretary for Obama for America's. She was working for the Obama campaign in California before she came to Nevada. Now she's driving around northern Nevadaa in a Obama campaign RV.

1101PB Mariachi

"We're using it to take people to the polls. A lot of folks have trouble driving. So it helps us kind of spread the word that this is happening right now, and this is a very big election," says Serrato.

Getting Latinos out to vote is crucial. In Reno, they make up a quarter of the population. The Spanish-speakers outside La Fonda restaurant say they all have hopes for Obama's policies around health care, education and immigration. That's why Elvira Diaz is volunteering her time to get her community to vote early.

"I'm supporting Obama, Obama is wonderful." says Elvira Diaz, after leading the group in a chant for Obama in spanish. "He really [hears] our community. I really want him to win. I really want health care for people and I want a reform (of) immigration laws." 

About 42% of registered voters in Nevada have already cast their ballots  State data show registered Democrats are voting more than their Republican counterparts, but for whom they voted is uncertain.

About a fifth of Nevada's early voters didn't belong to either party. So Linda Serrato says they can't slow down. They're reaching out to all voters in Northern Nevada.

"Like in baseball, you can't just half swing, the way that you hit the home runs, the way that you make it is if you swing all the way through," says Serrato. "So in this situation and every day, you've gotta run through home plate. You gotta make sure you don't stop our momentum."

The Republicans have their own champion for early voting. Just a few blocks away from where the mariachi band played in Reno, Governor Brian Sandoval cast his vote in front of reporters at the Reno Town Mall.

"This is one of the most important elections of our generation, " says Governor Sandoval. "I wanted to set an example to get out there and vote early, the turnout has been fabulous in the state of Nevada, and I'm told that it's going to continue to do so."

At the Republican National Committee campaign center in Reno, a half dozen volunteers work the phones. Staffers pore over district maps.

1101PB Phones

Christina Fisher says government shouldn't spend money on silly things or go beyond what's prescribed by the constitution. She spends four hours a day here volunteering for Romney.

"He reminds me very much of Ronald Reagan, and that I don't think he's in this for personal glory, " says Fisher. "I think his motives are good and pure."

Republic National Committee Regional Press Secretary Ted Kwong says Washoe County is one of the most politically important in the presidential campaign.

"Over the last quite a few decades, Washoe County has only picked the wrong candidate for president once," says Kwong. He came from DC a couple of weeks ago to help the Romney campaign in Reno. 

Kwong's not worried that Democrats have a stronger early presence at the polls than people in his party.

"Traditionally... their voters tend to like to vote earlier. I think a lot of our voters like to vote either later or on election day. Some of them like the occasion of election day. But the things that we've been seeing in Nevada on the Republican side are very encouraging."

Kwong says the Republican strategy is to target voters who have gone to the polls less consistently over the years.

He says if they vote early, more reliable voters could push Romney to victory on election day. But there is the question of whether Nevada voters are getting tired of all the politics.

"There's probably some diminishing returns," says Kwong. "There are only so many people left undecided. We try to reach them as best we can to cut through the airwaves. But that's kind of just the grounds on which you fight this fight (LAUGHS), so you have to keep it up."

Early voting in Nevada ends November 2nd.  

 

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