But The Arizonan was asking why Kennedy won a whole lot of other counties in Nevada, not just Clark.
It's actually only a relatively recent phenomenon that Mormons have tended to vote overwhelmingly Republican. Additionally as an historically stereotyped religious minority, Nevada Mormons were much more receptive to the Kennedy candidacy than many other populations within America.
Throw in the historic mining tradition in Nevada, add some extra dashes of rural ranchers feeling ok with LBJ as Veep, voila you have a wining combination....
All these points made are very true. Mormons in both 1928 and 1960 had far fewer problems with a Catholic than the highly secular and liberal Pacific Northwest did. After all, Kennedy lost Multnomah County, which even George McGovern and Walter Mondale couldn’t do, and won three Utah counties (highly populous Weber, Beaver and Daggett) that no post-Johnson Democrat has carried. Nevada also possessed a highly unionized mining sector, and sizeable Catholic populations not only in the south, but even in remote areas where Basques had settled in the nineteenth century. Those rural counties Kennedy won were mostly won by Al Smith in 1928 too.
In fact, outside the “Solid South” and adjacent areas, Nevada was between 1896 and 1960 the most Democratic leaning state in the nation. It voted Republican only in the six landslides of 1904, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1952 and 1956 – and voted more Democratic than the nation in every election from 1896 to 1960 except those of 1948 and 1952. For comparison, Kentucky was more Republican than the nation in 1928, 1936 and 1960, and Oklahoma in 1928 and 1960 (anti-Catholicism in both cases of course).
It’s true that from 1964 to 1988 Nevada voted more Republican than the nation in every election, but with an economy increasingly based on sin Goldwater’s free-market rhetoric and his wife’s Planned Parenthood history would – at least in the northwest – have been less feared than in most states, and this would apply especially to the state’s growing suburban population in the 1970s and 1980s.