See 2012 Senate Elections - Who's Winning, Who's Losing for an overview of all 33 US Senate races, on a state-by-state basis.
The Incumbent US Senator
Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, was appointed to the U.S. Senate effective May 9, 2011, to replace two-term Republican Sen. John Ensign after a messy sex scandal. At the time, Heller was serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dean Heller was Nevada Secretary of State for 12 years, from 1994 to 2006.
During his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate, Dean Heller has served on the Energy and Natural Resources and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees.
Heller is most renowned and widely respected as the first state Secretary of State to mandate and implement a traceable, auditable record for electronic voting machines.
Incumbent Sen. Heller is running for reelection in 2012.
Nevada's 2012 Senate Race
Two Democrats have declared their candidacies for Nevada's 2012 Senate primary election, which will be held on Jun 12, 2012:
- Rep. Shelley Berkley, a 7-term House of Representatives member who votes pro-choice, pro-environmental issues, pro-public education
- Barry Ellsworth, a self-described "Mormon renewable energy entrepreneur spouting Occupy Wall Street populism."
Who Will Win?
Nevada is an interesting mixture of liberal and conservative groups and communities, which results in heated partisan politics and close election results. Usually falling on the liberal side are labor union members (18.2% of all workers in the state) and citizens of Hispanic heritage (26.5% of Nevada's population.) On the more conservative side is the large population of Libertarian-leaning voters, and a sizeable community of Mormon church members.
As a result, Nevada's U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Shelley Berkley is expected to be close. RealClearPolitics.com rates Nevada's 2012 U.S. Senate election as a "Toss-Up."
Recent Election Results
Nevada's two U.S. senators serving in the 112th Congress (2011 to 2012) are:
- Democrat Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader since 2007, serving his fifth term
- Republican Dean Heller, serving his first term
Of Nevada's three-member delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, two are Republicans and one is a Democratic party member.
In the last four presidential elections, Nevada voted as follows:
- 2008 - 55% for Democrat Obama, 43% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 51% for Republican Bush, 48% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 50% for Republican Bush, 46% for Democrat Gore
- 1996 - 44% for Democrat Clinton, 43% for Republican Bush, 13% for Other
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - During 2011 and into 2012, Nevada consistently experienced the nation's highest unemployment rate, which was 12.4% in June 2011.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - Like unemployment, Nevada experienced the nation's highest home foreclosure rate throughout 2011 and into 2012. Nevada's devastating foreclosure rate in June 2011 was 1 in 114 homes.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 11.3% of Nevadans live below the poverty line, which ranks 33rd among all states.
Labor Union Membership - 217,000 of Nevada residents are labor union members, representing 18.2% of all workers in the state.
Senior Citizen Population - Residents 65 years old and over comprise 12.0% of Nevadans, which ranks 44th among all states.
Women as a Percentage of State Population - Women comprise 49.5% of Nevada residents, which ranks 47th among all states.
Hispanic Population - 26.5% of Nevada residents are of Hispanic heritage, which ranks 5th among all states, behind New Mexico, California, Texas, and Arizona.
African-American Population - 8.0% of Nevada residents are African-Americans, which ranks 23rd among all states.