Nevada 3rd District
Las Vegas, “The Meadows” in Spanish, began as a stop along the Old Spanish Trail trading route between Santa Fe and California in the 1830s. Water from artesian wells had created vast grasslands in the area and let traders replenish their supplies. In the early 20th century, Las Vegas was one of the termini of the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad, a link to Nevada’s silver mines. Even at the end of the 1930s, when gambling was legalized in Nevada, it was still a town of less than 10,000. Then came decades of amazing growth, as Las Vegas became America’s destination for gambling and topflight entertainment. From 2000 to 2008, the Las Vegas metro area grew by 36%, to 1.9 million, making it the seventh fastest-growing metropolitan area in America. But given the fast pace of building in the Las Vegas metro area, it was particularly hard hit by the crisis in the credit markets, and the red-hot real estate market bottomed out. Clark County had one of the highest rates of pre-foreclosure filings in the nation in 2007, and the number of foreclosures increased in 2008. This is still frontier country, one of the few places in the nation with more men than women. Las Vegas has spread across the desert in every direction from the few blocks around Fremont Street that it occupied in the 1930s, and today it is an exuberant, undisciplined and chaotic city.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 3rd Congressional District is a Y-shaped segment of Nevada’s Clark County made up of most of the suburbs of Las Vegas. It includes the south end of the Las Vegas Strip and McCarran International Airport, and spreads west, northeast and south. It includes active retiree communities, blue-collar towns such as Blue Diamond that still have a rural flavor, and a variety of planned (and often gated) areas like Summerlin, where young families have come for job opportunities and retired baby boomers have purchased vacation homes. Southeast of Las Vegas, the district takes in two additional population hubs: Henderson, ranked third in the nation in per capita online commercial activity by the auction site eBay, and Boulder City, originally built for federal workers at Hoover Dam. (Under an old agreement with the federal government, Boulder City is the only place in Nevada where gambling is prohibited.) The 3rd also includes the Nevada halves of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave on the Arizona border, and the state’s southernmost tip, where Searchlight, the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is found. The district was created after the 2000 census to have an equal number of registered Democrats and registered Republicans. Clark County historically was the most Democratic part of Nevada, but newcomers in the 1990s tilted Republican. The district gave small pluralities to Al Gore in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2004. Democrats gained a 40,000-person advantage in registered voters before the 2008 election, and Democratic nominee Barack Obama carried the district with 55% of the vote.