Video: Battleground Nevada

updated 7/22/2004 5:21:19 PM ET 2004-07-22T21:21:19

From the bustling casinos of the Las Vegas strip to the ranches in rural areas, Nevada is an undecided state.

A lot of attention is now being paid to a state with only five electoral votes. The following factors may determine on who wins the state:

  • Yucca mountain: Drive 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas, across a barren expanse of the Mojave Desert and you come upon fertile ground for presidential politics in Nevada: Yucca Mountain. The Federal government has already spent billions of dollars there, boring a 5-mile tunnel into volcanic rock, hoping it will be approved as the storage place for this nation’s nuclear waste. Even the state’s Republican Senator and Republican governor opposed President Bush’s decision to approve Yucca. 
    “The Yucca Mountain will make a difference in Nevada,” Senator Henry Reid said.
    One in four Nevadans cite Yucca Mountain as the most important issue of the campaign. They are concerned in part that it will keep tourists away from the cash cow of Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Economy: Las Vegas has an economy so strong, a service employee at a good hotel can earn about $60,000/year.  This is more then enough to buy a home given there are no taxes. A new home is built every 20 minutes in Clark County due to its population flux.  There are 6,000 new residents each month who generally have no local political allegiance.
  • Land issues: Rural Nevada is like "The Wild West." Nevada is home to one of the largest rodeos in the world. Land issues are big for ranchers. Almost 87 percent of the land is owned by the Federal Government. 
  • Health care: Besides land issues, one in three Nevadans is a retiree. Health care is a major concern.
    Hispanic vote: Almost one in five Nevadans is Hispanic so Spanish language ads are a part of the advertising barrage. 
    “A big part of them are most new arrivals into the state, mostly new immigrants,” according to Peter Padilla.
    In Metro Reno, where populations equal less than 500,000, 1.2 million was spent on 6,500 ads in six months.

Last time George Bush won Nevada on very late terms.

Odds are November 2 will be another late night as well.

Chris Jansing has traveled all over Battleground America in the past couple of months to talk to undecided Americans in big cities and little towns, and to look at the grassroots efforts being conducted there. "Battleground America: Winning the White House" airs July 25, Sunday, 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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