Nevada’s 3rd congressional district was created after the 2000 census with the first races held in the 2002 election cycle – it generally has been a tight voter margin between democrats and republicans.
The district is basically a suburban district encompassing the southern and western suburbs of the greater Las Vegas metro area, and it extends to the southern tip of Nevada taking in rural Searchlight and the Colorado River casino town of Laughlin – But probably 95% of the district population lives in the Las Vegas Metro area.
Since the district was created the republican candidate has won 6 times and the democrat 1 time – the GOP has had a good run in what is and should be a swing district. The one time the democrat won, was in part due to the Obama surge in 2008 when the total vote was the highest ever in the district.
Being that the district claims a large portion of the Las Vegas area, this district is also one of the fastest growing districts in the country – The influx of new residents over the last 12 elections doesn’t reflect in the overall voter turnout though.
2008 saw the top voter turnout with 349,812 total votes in a presidential year that saw Obama win the White House and carry many Senate and House candidates along with him – That was the case in 2008. 2008 was the only cycle where total votes exceeded 300,00 and almost getting half way to 400,000.
In looking at other years, the turnout has ebbed and flowed and surely doesn’t reflect the massive population growth over the last 14 years – Note the the district was redrawn after the 2010 census and that will affect the overall turnout numbers.
Only twice has the turnout been under 200,000 and that was in 2002 (first year for the district) when 178,994 turned out and in the most recent election of 2014, when only 145,719 made the effort to vote…….strangely the lowest turnout ever was the 2014 turnout. This is also when the district should have been at it’s highest population ever.
The winning candidate in the district has topped 100,000 votes in every election since 2002, until 2014 when Joe heck won the district with only 88,528 votes.
Even though 2014 was the third time the district elected Joe heck, it was his worst showing of the three elections he has run in the district – In 2010 Heck won on 128,916 votes; in 2012 Heck won with 137,244 votes, but in 2014 his winning total collapsed down to 88,528 votes, more than 40,000 fewer then his previous low in 2010.
As is the case in many election cycles, turnout is higher in presidential election years and that’s what we have in 2016.
Point being: This district is up for grabs in 2016. Three time winner Joe Heck has moved on to run for the US Senate, leaving his seat open……….and with what some consider an upset in the GOP primary, where Danny Tarkanian beat Governor Sandoval back Michael Roberson in a 6 way race, that had there been fewer “anti-tax” republicans, the win over Roberson might have even been by a higher margin……….the Donald Trump supporting Tarkanian will face newcomer Jacky Rosen.
Don’t be surprised if the Third Congressional District goes to the democrats in 2016 – the numbers are fairly even in voter registration and there is a good sized number of non-partisan voters – The key could be the coattails at the top of the ticket or the surge to vote against the name at the top of the ticket………..and that could ripple down the ballot to this race.