Polls show that close to 70 percent of Latino votes went to the Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in 2018. (Roibu/iStockphoto)

LAS VEGAS – Journalists, political analysts and advocacy groups gathered at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas on Tuesday to dissect the so-called “blue wave” in the 2018 midterm election that solidified Nevada’s transition from purple to blue.

Hear an audio report from Suzanne Potter …


The midterms saw a slew of Democrats elected to high office, including U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, Gov. Steve Sisolak, Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall and Attorney General Aaron Ford.

Amanda Khan, state field director for the nonprofit Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN-Action), said she thinks what people are calling a “blue wave” is really a “people’s wave” – propelled by a large number of newly active voters.

“We knew that Democrats were going to vote for Democrats and Republicans were going to vote for Republicans,” she said, “and it was about getting the voices who are often left out of the conversation, which is disenfranchised voters and those who identified as nonpartisan.”

The group also discussed successful efforts to add polling places on remote Native American reservations and to register voters who are in prison or have been recently released. The panel noted the success of ballot initiatives to automatically sign people up to vote when they renew their driver’s license, and to repeal the so-called “pink tax” on feminine-hygiene products.

The group Latino Decision showcased some of its polling, which found that about 70 percent of Latino voters in Nevada cast ballots for the Democratic candidates for governor and senator. Khan credited strong get-out-the-vote efforts that focused less on candidates’ personalities and more on bread-and-butter issues.

“The top issues were access to affordable health care, mass incarceration, affordable education, quality jobs and economy, and the environment,” she said.

When the Legislature convenes in February, groups are working to end cash bail, decriminalize traffic tickets and combat water pollution from mining. Some progressive groups are planning town halls and other events to stay involved in communities that might otherwise feel disenfranchised.

The Latino Decisions polls are online at latinodecisions.com.