The 2016 Presidential Election was a tough one for democrats, as Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Several swing states swung to the right, sealing Trump's victory, but Nevada was not one of them. For the third straight presidential election, the Silver State turned blue. The six electoral votes went to Clinton, and the left column dominated from the top down.
"Moving forward, if I'm a democrat, I want to build on this," Eric Herzik, Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Nevada said. "Nevada had a different dynamic, last night, than the rest of the nation."
The biggest prize came in the U.S. Senate, where Catherine Cortez Masto won Sen. Harry Reid's seat by more than 26,000 votes, a 2.37 percent victory over Rep. Joe Heck.
"I just thought he would prevail," Herzik said. "I mean, he was a good candidate for the republicans and she, by all accounts, ran an okay campaign."
As expected, rural counties voted republican and Washoe County leaned slightly left. A big reason for the successful night for Nevada democrats was high voter turnout in Clark County, especially among Latinos and organized labor.
"It was actually decisive in that race, particularly as the evening went on and it got so much closer," Herzik said. "You're going 'Boy, every vote that those groups provided really mattered.'"
The momentum continued down the ticket, where the state legislature shifted from red to blue. Democrats gained one seat to overtake the republicans for control of the Senate, 11-10.
"The Senate was all down to like two races and the democrats were aided by the turnout that you got in Clark County," Herzik said.
The pendulum swung back to the democrats in the Assembly, too, which was expected.
"2014 was such an unusual year with, I call them accidental assembly people, disproportionately republican, disproportionately conservative," Herzik said. "That wasn't going to last."
Democrats gained ten seats in the Assembly, holding a 27-15 majority. The liberal party will hold control of both houses and will work with republican Governor Brian Sandoval.
"He's already gone to the wall with a major tax increase and money for education and he's talking about some shortages in the budget, and that could lead to a lot of tension," Herzik said.
Democrats outnumber republicans by more than 118,000 in Nevada, but nearly 28 percent of the state's voters do not belong to one of the major parties. That, combined with unpredictable voter turnout means Nevada is still a swing state.
"That's the only reason I'm hesitating saying we're a blue state is you've got labor's involvement and you've got Latino's involvement," Herzik said. "That isn't always the case."
This is the first election that Nevada has not voted for the winning presidential candidate, since 1976, when Gerald Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter. This was only the second time it has happened since 1908, when William Taft defeated William Jennings Bryan.