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I spent much of last week spring break for Legislature, my kids' school and me in Nevada, where I discovered that there is a presidential election coming up in the United States this fall.

If television commercials are the only place you get your news, that election will be kept pretty much a secret in California. But Nevada is one of the 18 "swing states" that political demographers believe will determine the outcome of the fall election, and that makes all the difference.

Over a few hours of watching baseball games on ESPN, I saw the same commercial from President Bush at least four times. It begins with a quick clip of the president saying that he authorized the ad, then shows a still photo of Sen. John Kerry. It goes on to allege that Kerry voted scores of times for various tax increases and describes the Democrat's positions on economic issues as "troubling."

Just in case you thought you were missing something by not living in one of those make-or-break states...

And speaking of Nevada and taxes, l of course had to endure the usual California-bashing from the natives. "Oh, those California taxes!" they proclaim. Too bad this came before I read of last Wednesday's update from the Tax Foundation, which annually ranks states on the combined burden of state and local taxes. It placed California 26th, with a state and local tax burden of 9.8 percent of income. And where was Nevada? Only one-tenth of one percent lower, at 9.7 percent and in 30th place. Maybe that state line is a lot thinner than most Nevadans think.

95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at