Climate Change and Economic Renewal in Nevada

By Barbara Head, 5/1/22.

Nevada, a working-class blue state, is steadily turning purple!  Working-class voters, which include many people of color, have long supported the Democrats but are turning away from party policies and candidates. Working-class voters now disagree with Democrats on many issues. Economy is number one. Climate change is another area of disappointment among many voters. 

Many Nevadans are feeling severe economic pain from the shutdown of the Las Vegas tourist industry due to Covid. They feel that the Democrats are not listening.  As Leo Murrieta, director of liberal advocacy group Make the Road Nevada, noted: “They are not wrong. It’s hard to talk about the possibility of tomorrow when your todays are still torn apart.” Such feelings lead many working-class voters to favor Republican policies, especially to open up the economy.

Latinos, who make up nearly a third of Nevada’s adult population, traditionally have voted for Democrats. Working-class Latinos are experiencing much of the same disaffection with Democrats, and many are turning to Trump and the Republican party for solutions. Democratic voters overall have rated health care as a top issue. However, the issue that stands out for Latinos as a group is climate change. 

Recent polls show that Latinos view climate change as a more pressing issue than health care or immigration. One reason may be the strong connection many immigrants feel with their home countries in Latin or South America, which are being impacted strongly by extreme weather events. Excessive temperatures are increasingly a problem in Nevada, the driest state in the U.S. Many Latinos in Nevada work outdoors, where the oppressive heat affects their health and their livelihoods, when heat waves shut down workplaces and impact employment. And the heat negatively impacts quality of life for their families. 

In Nevada, a majority of voters in all groups agree that elected leaders are not taking adequate action against climate change. This is an issue that the Democrats could use to help recapture their base. But they must listen to their constituents and start addressing climate change quickly and effectively. Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is strong on this issue, has an opportunity to win back voters by highlighting her commitment to the climate change issue. This is the basis for the Nevada postcard action we offer this month on Turn Purple 2 Blue.