With unemployment at 12 percent and home prices an astounding 60 percent below their peak, Nevada is suffering economically. Conventional political wisdom says that the presidential incumbent is at a disadvantage given such poor numbers. Yet President Barack Obama maintains a significant lead over Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to the RealClearPolitics.com average of polls.
Some critics of the current administration contend that runaway government spending has created a dependency mindset among some voters. Individuals receiving government assistance would be likely to vote against candidates talking about fiscal restraint, according to this theory.
Data from Nevada offer some support for that theory. Government programs have grown even faster than unemployment.
Nevada is ranked first in the nation for growth in its food stamp system. The number of Nevada residents receiving food stamps increased by 172 percent in the last four years. Nevada officials are looking for additional growth this year. Nationwide, this program is expected to continue growing for at least the next year.
Another growth sector of the state’s economy is associated with funding the disabled. A larger than average percentage Nevada residents qualify for assistance under various programs that help the disabled. According to the state Department of Human Services, “In the last ten years, Nevada has posted a 157 percent increase in the number of people with disabilities, compared to a 2 percent decrease in the nation as a whole – the highest growth in the nation.”
Although James Carville explained to Bill Clinton that a presidential campaign is about the economy, this time-tested rule of politics isn’t working in Nevada.
One in eight Nevadans is unemployed, one in five is disabled and one in eight receives food stamps. Dependency may favor the incumbent in the next election and that would mark a dramatic change in politics for the United States, perhaps putting the country on the same path as Greece.
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