Rank-and-file Nevadans are a whole other story. Sandoval’s approval ratings are just under 70 percent, a number any politician would envy. In-state Republicans love him, independents like him a lot, and even Democrats are favorably disposed. Right now, Sandoval is projected to coast to reelection in November, according to Politico.
So how did Sandoval manage to offend the powers that be, but find favor across the board in his home state? Could it be by being the anti-Reid, the anti-Obama, and the anti-Christie all rolled into one? Could it be by being in touch with reality and appearing responsive to the citizenry at large, as opposed to just narrow interests? Could it be by exuding sunshine and optimism, and unhesitatingly reaching across the aisle?
Sandoval is more committed to overall fiscal responsibility than wedded to ideology at any cost. But, he is also not profligate. In 2012, the free-market oriented Cato Institute gave Sandoval and Christie a “B”, while New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Jerry Brown both earned dismal “Ds”. According to Cato, “Sandoval proposed a nine percent cut to the budget for fiscal 2012, and the legislature ending up approving a cut of about five percent.”
Impressively, Sandoval’s success comes amidst Nevada having gone Democratic in the last two presidential elections. But part of it is also about Sandoval’s own story. Sandoval is the first Latino elected to statewide office in Nevada, winning the attorney general’s seat in 2002, before unseating the incumbent Governor Jim Gibbons in the 2010 Republican Primary, and then defeating Rory Reid—Harry Reid’s son, in the general election.