“Look at this place,” says a worker at a major Strip casino. “There’s nobody here. This is a Saturday night. In Vegas.” Indeed, while the place is not empty, it is rather lightly populated, with a lot of empty barstools, a lot of open tables at the restaurants, and, most worrisome to the local economy, a lot of free space at the gambling tables.

The teetotaling, clean-living Mitt Romney might seem like an unlikely candidate for saving the economy of a state best known for its casinos and whorehouses — the Luxor casino, cutting right to the chase, calls its in-house nightclub “Cathouse” — but there is a great deal of dissatisfaction simmering just below the surface along the Strip, where a number of rank-and-file service workers lamented the unions’ dominance of Las Vegas politics and placed the blame for the city’s straits squarely on the Democrats.

“Harry Reid — how the hell does he keep getting reelected?” asks one discontented casino worker. “I don’t know if Mitt Romney really has a plan for Nevada. But you know what? He doesn’t have to. He has a plan for the other 49 states, and that’s the plan for Las Vegas. People have to be earning money before they can come here to spend it. I want to see this floor full of employees — just not our employees. People need jobs. When they don’t have money, this is the first thing they cut back on.”

Or, as a local casino manager puts it: “Our business model presupposes disposable income.”