Awash in the turning tide in Washoe

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I’ve never lived in Washoe County (and there are those who might argue that what I do in Clark County ain’t exactly “living”), but I spent a fair amount of time there when I lived in Northern California. When us Chicoans and Reddingites wanted to play, it was a fairly quick trip over the Sierra Nevadas to Reno. Sometimes Lake Tahoe, too. But my perception of that region has always been something akin to, “Not Democratic.”

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For years it has seemed to me to be the culture hub of Nevada’s god-n-guns region. I draw this conclusion perhaps unfairly – by conversations with graveyard-shift blackjack dealers at the since-shuttered Sundowner – but it is accurate. Maybe Winnemucca was more pronounced, demographically, but when Republican candidates needed to make an appearance before friendly Nevadans, it was usually in Reno – at the University of Nevada or downtown.

Statistics, to be conveyed shortly, bear me out. Of all the eye-opening events of this interminable presidential campaign, which for me could have ended the night Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech in Denver, nothing is more stunning than the fact that Democrats actually hold a lead among registered voters and in early voting in Washoe County. As Sun political writer Jon Ralston reported today in his Ralston Flash, Democrats continue to lead Republicans, 53 percent to 31 percent, in early voting (the raw numbers, at last posting, were 15,412-9,048, so the Democrats are easily “covering,” to put it in sports-betting terms).

As Ralston reports, John Kerry lost Washoe by 7,000 votes in 2004. He goes on to crunch numbers as to how it seems nearly impossible for Obama to loses to John McCain in the statewide general election. I’ll quote Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live, portraying savagely Gerald Ford during Ford’s debate with Jimmy Carter in 1976, by saying, “I was led to believe there would be no math.”

At the risk of jinxing the action here, this race is all but over. The water in Lake Tahoe is not all that’s blue in this state, not today.

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