5:22 p.m. October 27, 2012

Mormons. Mormons. Mormons. Mormons. Mormons. Sheldon Adelson

Yesterday, the National Journal reported rumors that the Romney campaign is quietly pulling out of Nevada, giving it up for lost, and transferring those resources to the more important Ohio battleground (they claimed Obama’s campaign had similarly given up on Florida for the Ohio battle too).

They may all be right, but Nevada has a history of confounding pollsters and pundits, thanks largely to the highly disciplined Mormon voting bloc in that state, which once was part of the greater Utah territory and was part of Brigham Young’s lebensraum plan for his Mormon “Kingdom of Deseret” stretching from Colorado to Malibu.

Here are a Quick Six reasons why Nevada is still worth watching:

1) The Mormon Church killed the Equal Rights Amendment in Nevada, by organizing the defeat of the Nevada state ERA referendum in 1978. At that time, 35 states had ratified the ERA, just three states shy of passage. Everyone assumed it was a mere formality. But an organized effort by the Church of Latter-Day Saints stalled the ERA bill in Nevada’s legislature. So in 1978, the ERA was put on the state ballot, where to everyone’s surprise it lost by a 2:1 margin.

Studies after the vote showed that it was Mormon bloc-voting and organizing that led to the ERA’s defeat. The LDS Church’s get-out-the-vote campaign was so successful that it was estimated Mormon voter turnout was as high as 95% of eligible voters. In 1978, Mormons were roughly 8-9% of the total Nevada population, but experience going back to Joseph Smith’s days had taught Mormons how to effectively leverage their highly disciplined, top-down structure into powerful voting blocs. Today, Mormons are 7% of Nevada’s population, barely less than their portion in 1978.

2) The huge surge in Nevada’s Latino population is being overplayed as carelessly as the Mormon bloc’s voting power today being underplayed. Today, Nevada is about 27% Latino, a demographic shift that at first glance would seem to completely swamp the Mormon vote. However, living in Nevada doesn’t equal “eligible to vote in Nevada”; and eligible to vote doesn’t mean “voted.” Latinos are 27% of Nevada, but only 13.5% of Nevada's eligible voters. How many eligible Latinos wind up actually voting is a big question. Nevada has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any state in the union, even in 2008 when turnout numbers soared elsewhere. And Republicans have clearly ramped up all the tricks in the book to keep voter turnout as low as possible, by intimidating lower-class and immigrant communities, which in Nevada means the Latino population. Latino population numbers only recently soared to its current 27% level, so they're new to the state; and mixed in with Nevada's eligible-to-vote Latinos are Nevada's huge population — 14% — of non-US citizens not eligible to vote. So you mix all that together, and you get a situation where a lot of Latinos eligible to vote won't, a situation that Nevada's Mormon population doesn't have to face.

3) The LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City has already been caught organizing a major Mormon get-the-vote drive in the state of Nevada. According to emails obtained by reporter Jon Ralston, a senior Mormon church official in Salt Lake City with the title “Latter Day Saints public affairs specialist” was organizing and instructing Nevada’s Mormon “stake presidents” — local leaders in charge of a dozen congregations and thousands of Mormons each — on top-down strategies to get local Nevada Mormons registered and voting. The email instructions from the “LDS public affairs specialist” included a PowerPoint presentation to be used during Sunday Mormon church services in Nevada. According the instructions:

“You will note that this PowerPoint touches on both encouraging members to vote, as well as helping prepare them for difficult questions posed by their friends, work associates, neighbors, etc.,” Severts wrote, according to Ralston, who first reported the message.

The email instructs Nevada’s Mormon church leaders to direct further questions about the voter registration drive to Judy and Ron Tobler, whose avowed sympathies for Romney and Republican Party advocacy raise a shit-ton of disturbing questions about what’s going on in Nevada. Judy Tobler’s Facebook lists her interests as “Mitt Romney,” “Paul Ryan,” and FreedomWorks, the notorious Koch-linked GOP front group that launched the Tea Party campaign in 2009.

The Mormon Church is not supposed to mix religion with naked Romney- GOP advocacy and astroturfing. FreedomWorks was founded by the billionaire Kochs and handed to former Republican House leader Dick Armey in 2004, in time to run a nationwide fake-grassroots support campaign for President Bush’s social security privatization plan. FreedomWorks sent buses full of paid monkeys from town hall to town hall to make sure that Bush’s town hall appearances were packed with fake-fans—sometimes, FreedomWorks officials would take the stage with Dubya, posing as regular “concerned citizens” begging the President to privatize Social Security “for our grandchildren.”

So the Mormon Church has sicced its “public affairs specialist” to influence the Nevada elections, and it’s tapping a fan of Romney, Ryan and a Koch brothers propaganda frontgroup as the Church’s “go-to” consultant for the Nevada Mormon vote push. But the secular liberal media won’t touch the Mormon angle to the Romney story, no matter how relevant and urgent.

4) In 2010, Harry Reid pulled off a surprise election victory in Nevada thanks in no small part to the Mormon bloc. Recall that in 2010, Harry Reid was the one Senator who was definitely going to be thrown out. And yet even though 2010 turned out to be one of the worst electoral bloodbaths in the Democratic Party’s history, Harry Reid was one of the few to survive, winning with a comfortable six point margin. Most pundits decided Harry Reid won thanks to the Latino vote, as if the pollsters forgot to factor in Latinos before the vote.

In reality, what they didn’t count on was all the normally die-hard Republican Mormons switching parties to vote for the fellow Mormon Harry Reid, who is well-liked by a large number of Nevada’s Mormon Republicans. It was Republican candidate Sharron Angle’s nutball pastor, John Reed, who drove all those Mormon Republicans into Harry Reid’s arms by attacking Mormonism as a “kooky cult” that uses Mormon death squads to terrorize and murder fellow Mormons who question their faith. Pastor Reed accused Harry Reid of essentially leading those Latter-Day Saints' death squads, forcing Sharron Angle to distance herself from Pastor Reed, Obama-style. Which for Angle was an oddly human thing to do: Sharron Angle was the one who proposed "2nd Amendment remedies" to "cure" the "Harry Reid problem."

Hearing the Republican candidate for Senator’s pastor attack Mormonism like that brought back some bad 19th century memories for a lot of Nevada Mormons. They may be the most disciplined pro-GOP voting bloc, but they’re Mormons first—and so thanks to Pastor Reed, Sharron Angle lost a lot of would-be Republican voters to Harry Reid. Most of the media attributed Reid's last-minute surprise to Latino voters, but the main LDS newspaper in Salt Lake City attributed Reid's surprise victory to Mormons, and I think they're right—after all, pollsters didn't assume that Republican Mormons would switch, but they did assume that Latinos would vote for Reid.

It’s worth quoting the pastor’s attack on Mormonism just for the sheer batshit entertainment value. The pastor’s attack was first reported in the Reno News & Review just weeks before the November 2010 midterms that swept every screeching, stick-pounding Teabagger into Congress except for Sharron Angle:

'The LDS church, in fact, pushes one of Pastor Reed’s buttons, and the fact that Harry Reid is a member seems to be only a part of the reason. “His religion’s a cult,” Pastor Reed said. “The Christian community—all the Christians, theologians and scholars, all recognize that, that Mormonism is a cult. I have books in my library on cults, and it lists Mormonism right there with all these bizarre cults. Well, there must be a reason. I mean, here a member of a cult is one of the most powerful people in the United States. Doesn’t that alarm you? And his allegiance is to Salt Lake City. Something is up with that. Something’s weird. But nobody touches that. … Harry Reid’s allegiance is to Salt Lake City. The Mormon church is rich, powerful, they do illegal things. They do secretive things. They’ve got all this money. They own American businesses. There’s weirdness going on there. Churches are not multi-millionaire organizations like the Mormon church. You know, there’s some weirdness with that, but nobody questions it, nobody asks one question to Harry Reid and says, ‘Tell us about your faith. What does a Mormon believe?’ Ask him about the holy garments that he wears that protect him from evil. Isn’t that kooky? Ask him about getting his body parts anointed by oil. Isn’t that kooky? Ask him about when he goes to the temple and he gets baptized for dead people. Isn’t that kooky? Ask him about the hit squad of the Mormon church and why they need people to kill Mormons that go against them. Isn’t that controlling?'

5) California’s anti-gay Prop 8 outlawing same-sex marriage passed, despite all polls, thanks to the efforts of the Mormon Church. No one expected Prop 8 to pass in 2008. Less than two months before the vote, polls showed Prop 8 losing badly: the “no” vote was at 55% versus 41% yes. And yet Prop 8 won, comfortably, to everyone’s surprise, 52% yes to 48% no””. And again, it was thanks to the quiet little-noticed funding and organizing efforts of the Mormon Church. They were so good at managing it behind the scenes that at first, most of the respectable media blamed Prop 8’s on homophobic minorities—gay-hating blacks and Latinos, we were assured, were the dirty little secret of that election.

The problem, as always—as now, in fact—was that the liberal secular media doesn’t look for Mormon Church influence because acknowledging the influence of a once-persecuted religious minority makes the liberal media nervous and queasy. For one thing, it's hard to sound smart and hard to sound like you live in a rational 21st century nation when you're antennae are attuned to the power and influence of the Mormon vote in an election; for another thing, they're frozen by a sense of false equivalency to the vile Islam-baiting that the right-wing has been doing to Obama. It's simply more liberal media cowardice and a failure to do their job right, and that led to everyone being surprised by Prop 8's victory, and everyone's failure to understand why.

When Prop 8 was supposed to win, that story played into the "progress is back” narrative every hack peddled in 2008 with Obama's majestic victory. When Prop 8 passed and bucked the historical trend’s return, rather the hacks fell back on rank 90s contrarianism to explain what happened: “Minorities oppressing other minorities.” That provided just the sort of contradiction/paradox that made them sound smart, and Prop 8’s success something new, an unintended consequence of human progress.

But when it was finally discovered that the Mormon Church made Prop 8’s success happen, the response was something like sulking and excusing themselves from the table — and now, he were are. If Obama wins, Mormonism can be avoided again; if Romney wins, a betting pool of some kind would be in order, or a game of “Fantasy Hacks” betting on which hack will succumb to Mormon-Alarmism when.

6) The Citizens United Worker-Intimidation Wild Card: This is the first presidential election in which employers are legally allowed to intimidate and pressure their employees on how they should vote in the elections—all thanks to Citizens United. This clearly works in Romney’s favor and all the stories we’re hearing so far from Corporate America involve pro-Romney billionaire degenerates telling their workers they’ll lose their jobs in a global economic apocalypse should they vote for Obama.

In Nevada, Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn have already been putting the pressure on their employees—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine how political intimidation from your employer is affecting Latino voters in a place like Nevada, with its brutal police force, anti-immigrant sentiment, and the shitty jobs situation. I doubt any pollster has factored in Citizens United’s impact on the vote.

CAVEAT: The strongest argument against these six reasons I’ve just laid out comes from Las Vegas reporter Jon Ralston. He’s the one who first publicized Pastor Reed’s batshit attacks on Mormonism, sinking Sharron Angle’s candidacy.

More importantly, Ralston was about the only pundit to correctly predict Harry Reid would win the 2010 Senate election. And now Ralston is predicting that Romney’s chances of winning Nevada are slim.

Whatever happens in Nevada, we here at the NSFWCORP will be converging on Las Vegas to cover the last battleground state, and the death of American democracy, live and in color on election day.