At UNLV, Warren tells young voters ‘it’s going to come down to you’

By: - November 3, 2022 5:50 am

Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses Democratic activists at UNLV Wednesday. (Photo by Michael Lyle)

In an attempt to motivate young voters, a key demographic group this election that could be a deciding factor in the narrow races up and down the ballot, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts gave an impassioned speech drawing on her first race ten years ago. 

Warren, who spoke to UNLV students Wednesday, is the latest high profile Democrat to travel to Nevada in an attempt to energize people in the final days ahead of the midterm election. 

She was joined by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus and secretary of state candidate Cisco Aguilar, both of whom are facing tough election bids and see the power the voting bloc has in swaying the outcome.  

Razor thin margins in several polls have shown all Democratic incumbents, including Gov. Steve Sisolak, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the congressional candidates along with the down ballot slate, could be in a dead heat.

Warren knows that feeling all too well. 

“Exactly ten years ago this week in good ole blue Massachusetts we had a Republican senator (Scott Brown) – a very popular Republican incumbent,” she said. “I got in the race (a year prior) and I started out 35 points down. I’m too dumb to know that’s pretty bad. But you put your head down and keep doing the work.”

Warren eventually narrowed the gap enough that days before the election polls either showed her ahead by one point or losing by five. 

“My head of field (organizing) comes to me and says ‘Elizabeth, if you fight that guy to dead even we, the volunteers, the door knockers, the field (organizers), we will give you two points and carry you across the finish line,” Warren said. “So that’s what I did. I gave it everything I could. I fought him to dead even and because of the folks out in the field we beat that sucker by seven and a half points.”

While the story concluded with applause from the students, it came with a call to action by Warren, who pleaded with students to spend the final days of the election organizing, door knocking and getting people to vote.

“Cisco has given this everything he can,” she said. “Dina has given this everything she can. Catherine has been out there punching, giving it all she’s got. Steve is giving it everything. Ultimately though, it’s going to come down to you.”  

‘What are you going to do?’

Warren’s visit comes a day after former President Barack Obama spoke in Southern Nevada trying to get out the vote. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar Minnesota, both 2020 presidential contenders, have also campaigned on behalf of Nevada Democrats and Sen. Cory Booker has planned an upcoming stop.

With control of both the Senate and House potentially hinging on results in Nevada, Warren said all eyes are on the state. 

“The rest of America has turned to Nevada and said, ‘What are you all going to do?’” Warren said.   

Like Obama Tuesday, Warren warned students Wednesday of all the issues on the ballot including access to abortion, protection of Social Security, “the survival of our planet” and even democracy itself. 

“There is a lot more that’s on the ballot this time,” she said. “This is not the standard election … No one is saying this time, ‘gee there is not much difference between one side and another.’”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, was at UNLV Wednesday hoping to energize students and the Young Dems of Nevada. (Photo: Michael Lyle)

Turnout among young voters helped Democrats win nationwide in 2018 and 2020, signaling their participation could again carry candidates over the finish line in more challenging races. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voting among 18 to 29 year olds jumped from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2018.

Rising gas prices and inflation, a global phenomenon, have remained a top priority for most voters regardless of age, but how elected officials prioritize the response to the climate crisis has drawn younger voters to the polls. 

“I know the polls are showing young people especially are concerned about the environment because it’s your future, your planet,” Titus said. “We don’t have very long left to start making changes or it will absolutely be too late. The other party is all about rolling back all the environmental protections we’ve put in place, all in the name of drill baby drill.”

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act over the summer which made historic investments to combat climate change, including  $370 billion to clean energy programs to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Warren said those investments are at risk depending on the outcome of the election.

“The Republicans want to roll back the carbon emission restrictions that we just got in place a few months ago,” she said. 

Warren bashed the Republican Party for embracing climate deniers and specifically called out former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running to unseat Cortez Masto, for being “in the pocket of big oil.” 

“We have already passed a set of laws so we can bring carbon emissions down by 40% by 2030,” she said. “Give us two more senators and help us hang on to the House and we will bring down carbon emissions even more.”

Election deniers

Warren also warned that Republicans have outlined plans to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, along with other Republicans, pledged if they regained the House that they would leverage a future fight over negotiations to increase the debt limit, which prevents the government from defaulting on its debts, to cut spending on federal programs, including Social Security.

While young people may not be as concerned as those receiving earned benefits, the well-being of their families who are beneficiaries is a concern, a point Warren underscored.

“Which families succeed in America is on the ballot,” she said. “Republicans are making that really clear. What do they want to do economically? Just take a close look because they already told us what they want to do. They want to cut Social Security and Medicare. Think of what that means for people. They want to make sure that, once again, they expand those tax breaks for billionaires and billionaire corporations.”

Titus told students that democracy was at stake. 

“It’s not overly dramatic to make that point,” she said. “You think about the Jan. 6 revolt to try to keep the transition of power from occurring … You look at the rhetoric and election deniers running to be in positions so they can overturn elections. It’s really at stake.”

The election, Warren added, is seeing candidates who support the Big Lie and push conspiracy theories around baseless claims of election fraud. 

That includes Laxalt, who as state co-chair for former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada launched a series of lawsuits falsely alleging election fraud, as well as Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant.

Speaking alongside Trump at a rally in Minden, Nevada, Marchant told the crowd “when my coalition of secretary of state candidates around the country get elected we’re going to fix the whole country and President Trump is going to be president again in 2024.” 

“When you’ve got someone running for secretary of state who says basically he doesn’t care how you vote right here in Nevada and that he’s going to be the one who’s going to determine who the winner is,” Warren said, “that corrodes our democracies. It undercuts the very principles of what it means to be a democratic country.”

Aguilar said that the election is also about fighting for voting rights in Nevada. 

“(Marchant) wants to take away our early voting,” he said. “He wants to take away our mail ballots and go back to a day when we’re voting on a single Tuesday in November from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. That is completely unacceptable given who we are in Nevada.” 

Aguilar reiterated that it comes back to the power of young voters and the last push in the final days ahead of the election.

His race at this moment, Aguilar said, is “a statistical tie.”

“I can’t win this without you,” he said. “When I do (win) and we look at the numbers of young people voting, we can come back and say it was all of you who pushed us over the hill.”

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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