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Obama Wins Battleground of Nevada on Path to Second Term

President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Nevada, according to the Associated Press, a key victory in securing a second term.

The president prevailed in a state where the nation’s highest unemployment and home foreclosure rates shaped the campaign debate. With 12 percent of Nevada precincts reporting, Obama led Romney by 53 percent to 45 percent, according to AP.

Polls consistently showed a close race for Nevada’s six electoral votes, making it one of the nine states in which both campaigns concentrated their efforts. Nevada also was viewed as a bellwether. Over the last 100 years, it has sided with the presidential winner more frequently than any other state, missing only in 1976.

Obama carried Nevada by 12 percentage points in winning the presidency in 2008. He faced more of a political struggle in the state this year partly because of an 11.8 percent unemployment rate in September that was the nation’s highest and up from 9.6 percent when he took office.

Also, about 59 percent of Nevada homeowners owed more than the value of their homes in the second quarter of this year, an “underwater” rate that was more than twice the national average, according to CoreLogic Inc. of Irvine, California.

Improving Economy

Improvements in Nevada’s economy helped the president as the campaign played out. The state’s September unemployment rate was down by more than two percentage points from 14 percent in October 2010. CoreLogic data show that Nevada home prices rose 9 percent in August from a year ago, the biggest increase in the campaign’s swing states -- those with a recent history of supporting either major party’s presidential nominee.

The president benefited from Nevada’s politically active labor unions, which lean Democratic and helped turn out voters during Nevada’s early-voting period before Election Day. About 15 percent of Nevada workers were members of a union in 2011, the highest percentage among swing states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A burgeoning Hispanic voting bloc, 27 percent of the state population as of the 2010 census, helped Obama.

Romney was aided by an above-average concentration of Nevadans who share his Mormon faith.

Obama, Romney and their surrogates aired television ads 21,200 times in metropolitan Las Vegas in the 60-day period ended Oct. 29, according to data from Kantar Media’s CMAG, a New York-based political ad tracker. Across the U.S., only Denver stations ran more ads.

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