Election Blog States of the Presidential Race: Nevada
Richard C. Auxier, Matthew A. Rogers
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The Nevada Democratic Party caucus is February 20 and the Republican Party caucus is February 23. Nevada’s population is diverse with a relatively large Hispanic population, and its economy has not fully recovered from the recession, particularly the housing crash. Here’s what you need to know about the state hosting the first presidential contest in the West.


Nevada’s voting-age population (just under 2.2 million in 2014) is notably diverse, and stands in stark contrast to the overwhelmingly white populations in Iowa and New Hampshire. Among adults ages 18 and older, the majority of Nevadans are non-Hispanic white (55.8 percent). But nearly a quarter (24.0 percent) are Hispanic, a far larger share than among all US voting-age adults (15.3 percent).

Another 12.2 percent of voting-age Nevadans are in the Census category “non-Hispanic other.” Most of this group (roughly the same share as blacks) is self-identified Asian, with most of the remaining people identifying with multiple racial categories. And the state will only grow more diverse with time. Nevada’s white share of the voting-age population will no longer be a majority in 2030 when it falls to 43.8 percent. In that year, the Hispanic share will rise to 30.2 percent, the other share will rise to 16.9 percent, and the black share will rise to 9.1 percent.

Nevada population

Learn more about Nevada’s population with Urban’s Mapping America’s Futures.


Unemployment rate: 6.4% (December 2015)

Peak unemployment rate during the Great Recession: 13.6% (September-November 2010)

Average weekly earnings, private employment: $737 (December 2015)

House prices compared with one year ago: +12.4% (third quarter 2015)

Nevada rode the housing market’s boom and bust possibly more than any other state. At its peak (fourth quarter of 2004), home prices were up 34.0 percent compared with the previous year. At its nadir (fourth quarter of 2008), home prices were down 32.0 percent. In the third quarter of 2015, Nevada house prices were up 12.4 percent compared with the previous year, but they were still down 26.8 percent compared with the national housing peak (first quarter of 2007).

Housing problems contributed to the state’s economic struggles. During the Great Recession, Nevada’s unemployment rate peaked at 13.6 percent (only Michigan’s rate went higher), and its current rate (6.4 percent) is the third-highest of any state (behind only New Mexico and Alaska).

Nevada housing

Learn more about Nevada’s economy with Urban’s State Economic Monitor.

Health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Although insurer exits and entrances changed some of the plan options available, many Nevadans shopping for health insurance on the ACA Marketplace found silver level plan options with 2016 premiums only modestly higher than those in 2015. Insurers' 2015 prices were already somewhat higher than the national average and this was likely a factor in the modest growth. As with many other states showing low premium increases in 2016, this reflects, at least in part, generally competitive marketplaces.

Nevada has a lower than average take-up rate of Marketplace coverage by those eligible for tax credits, with 21 percent of those projected to be eligible for tax credits in 2015 enrolling in plans and paying premiums. While the relatively low premium increases suggest that the Nevada Marketplace will again sustain or increase plan selection in 2016, we do not yet have final numbers.

Nevada ACA

Learn more about Nevada and the ACA from Urban’s Health Policy Center.

Higher education

College is a relatively good deal in Nevada. The costs of in-state tuition at a two-year school ($2,805) and four-year school ($6,667) are both below the national averages ($3,435 and $9,410, respectively). However, the state’s higher education funding fell in recent years. From 2007-08 to 2014-15, Nevada’s funding per student declined 30 percent, compared with a 17 percent decline nationally. As a result, Nevada went from 10th to 28th in funding per student during this period.

Nevada tuition

Learn more about Nevada and higher education with Urban’s Financing Public Higher Education dashboard.

Research Areas Economic mobility and inequality Education Health and health care