Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto speaks during a reelection campaign kickoff event at the IBEW Local 401 office in Reno on March 14, 2022.
CNN  — 

Election Day is still over six months away in the US. But major general elections are already happening all over the world. Round one of France’s presidential election occurred this past weekend, and the runoff will be held next weekend.

We’ll talk about that race in a moment, but we’ll start stateside. Specifically, we’re going out west to a state that may be ground zero for a Republican takeover in Congress in November.

Republicans should be giddy about Nevada

When people tick off the most competitive states on this year’s Senate map, their selections would probably include states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Most race rating experts will also list Nevada, even if it is not top of mind.

Indeed, none of the Democrats holding federal office in the Silver State should feel safe about their reelection prospects this year. This includes the three Democrats in the House and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. The incumbent Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, faces a tough race as well.

That might not be what you’d expect in a state that has gone Democratic in the last four presidential elections, but there are troubling trends for the party underneath the surface.

Now-President Joe Biden won the state by a little over 2 points in 2020. That was a slightly reduced margin from Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, even though he did over 2 points better than she did nationally. Biden’s margin in Nevada was 4 points and 10 points lower than Barack Obama’s 2012 and 2008 showings.

In other words, Republicans have been closing the gap with Democrats in the last couple of presidential elections in Nevada. In 2020, the state voted more Republican than the nation as a whole for the first time since 2004.

The shifting turf in the Silver State would have been almost unthinkable at the beginning of the 2010s. The state’s growing Hispanic population reportedly helped power Democrats to a presidential win in 2008, after George W. Bush had won the state twice, and Harry Reid held on to his Senate seat by a shockingly comfortable margin in 2010.

But two combining factors in national politics makes Nevada vulnerable to a Republican takeover.

The first is what made Democrats so hopeful about the state in the first place: Hispanic voters. Hispanics made up more than 15% of the vote in three states decided by 5 points or less in the 2020 election, according to that year’s exit polls: Arizona (19%), Florida (19%) and Nevada (17%).

The problem for Democrats who rely on Hispanic voters is that then-President Donald Trump did better with Hispanics nationally in 2020 than any Republican since Bush in 2004. The trend among Hispanics away from the Democratic Party has continued during the Biden administration.

The second is perhaps more surprising: White voters without a college degree. This bloc has trended heavily in the Republican direction over the last few election cycles. In some states, the movement has been counterbalanced by White voters with a college degree migrating toward the Democratic Party.

White voters in Nevada, however, are disproportionately without a college degree. Only White voters in Wisconsin (65%) are more likely to lack a college degree than White voters in Nevada (64%) among the states that were decided by 5 points or less in the 2020 presidential election.

Nevada was the only swing state that was in the top three when looking at the percentage of Hispanic voters and of White voters without a college degree.

In a year shaping up to be a bad one for Democrats nationwide, it makes sense that Cortez Matso would be in big trouble against her likely Republican opponent, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Likewise, it follows that Sisolak is endangered.

Nevada Democrats potentially made their US House situation even worse, given how state lawmakers carved up the map in redistricting – a process Democrats had full control of. Biden carried the 3rd and 4th congressional districts by under 5 points in 2020. Both seats are a bit safer for Democrats under the new lines, though neither would have been won by Biden by more than 8 points.

At the same time, the Las Vegas-area 1st District went from one Biden won by over 20 points to one that would have backed him by under 10 points.

If 2022 turns out to be a nominally good Republican year, Democrats may hold on to all three House seats. If 2022 looks anything like the special state and federal elections so far in 2022 – with Republicans outperforming the Trump baseline by an average of 9 points – Democrats may not just lose the Senate race but all three House races in Nevada as well.

Talk about a potential dummymander.

Emmanuel Macron is favored in France, but is no sure thing

Macron, the incumbent and a moderate, is facing off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a repeat of the 2017 presidential runoff. Macron was up by 22 points in the final polls five years ago and went on to win by 32 points.

This year, the polls suggest a far closer affair, thanks in large part to a problem familiar to the US President: inflation. In polls taken since the first round, Macron has been up by an average of 7 points over Le Pen. But a Le Pen victory cannot be ruled out.


Beyond the fact that there was a larger poll error (10 points) in 2017 than the current average margin, take a look at every presidential election in France from 1969. There have been nine in total, a relatively small sample size.

The true margin of error, at a 95% confidence interval, is about +/- 13 points, if you were to take into account this small sample size and look at the difference between the final polling average and the result in those nine elections. That is, it’s nearly double Macron’s current polling advantage.

The fact that the race is so close may astonish some given past elections in France. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, who shared fairly similar politics with his daughter, lost the 2002 runoff by over 60 points to Jacques Chirac. Marine Le Pen, herself, cut that deficit in half in 2017, though she wasn’t anywhere close to winning.

This year, Le Pen has been helped by the state of the French economy. The inflation rate this past month was higher than at any point since 1985. More French voters list inflation as the most important issue to their vote than they do any other.

The state of the economy has allowed Le Pen to take advantage of the rising tide of nationalism that has been a growing political force in Europe and America. We’ve seen it with Trump here in the States. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was able to tighten his grip on power earlier this month, after his party gained seats in the parliamentary elections.

Whether all of this is enough for Le Pen to pull off the win is a whole matter. It’s certainly enough to make this race one that is too close to call.

For your brief encounters: Easter and Passover are two of the most observed religious holidays for Christian and Jewish Americans

This weekend marks Easter and the beginning of the Passover holiday. In the last year before the coronavirus pandemic took hold (2019), Google searches for “church” reached a year high right around Easter.

When it comes to Passover, more Jewish Americans told the Pew Research Center in 2020 that they had held or attended a Passover Seder (62%) than observed a life milestone ritual like a bar or bat mitzvah (61%), fasted for at least some of Yom Kippur (46%), went to synagogue at least monthly (20%) or kept kosher at home (17%).

April 10 brief encounter: Last week, I noted baseball’s declining popularity in the American landscape. The first prime-time Sunday night game of the year on ESPN pulled in 2.2 million viewers, which put it in third place for the evening on cable. The game was beaten out by an episode of “90 Day Fiancé” on TLC and a Hallmark Channel movie, which each scored 2.3 million watchers.

Leftover polls

Helping out two generations: According to a recent Pew Research Center report, Americans between the ages of 40 and 49 were the most likely, at 54%, to have both a parent 65 years old or older and a child who is either younger than 18 or relied on them for at least some financial support in the past year. In second place were those in the 50-59 age bracket at 36%.

The young turn against Biden: A new Gallup report showed that Biden’s aggregated approval rating over the last seven months (September to March) among those born between 1997 and 2004 (Generation Z) has declined by 21 points, from 60% to 39%, compared with the first six months of his presidency. For comparison, it stayed the same among those born before 1946 at 48%.

The Yankees rule New York: Proving that polls sometimes find that people have horrible opinions, a new Marist College survey showed that more New York City residents prefer the New York Yankees baseball team (43%) to the New York Mets (21%).