Early voting has finished in Nevada. With the exception of late arriving absentee ballots, all that is left are the votes on election day.
This is where we stand: After completion of Early Voting, the Democrats have a raw voter lead in early voting of just under 48K statewide. Early vote ballots were cast by 50% of all active registered voters. If absentee ballots (received and counted as of Saturday morning before the election) are included, then 56% of all active registered voters have voted. If we see a turnout of about 80%, that means that 63% (nearly 2/3 of all votes) have been cast by early voting, and 70% of all votes are already in. This leaves only 30% of the electorate voting on election day (or by late absentee).
The democrats early vote lead statewide is at 9%, which is about 2% above their registration advantage in the state. Their lead in Clark County is at 16%, or about 1% above their registration advantage of 15%. Washoe gives the Democrats a 1/2% advantage in early votes, for a county that is essentially even in registration.. If the early absentees are included, the Democrat advantage drops to about 7% statewide, to about 141/2% in Clark County, and becomes a net disadvantage in Washoe of about 1/2%.
With Washoe being a wash, only the 25% raw voter lead for the Republicans in the rural counties, or about 22K votes so far, has blunted the 70K advantage the Democrats have in Clark County.
For Clark County, the raw voter advantage for the Democrats has dropped from 82K in 2008 to 70K in 2012, though the total number of early votes has increased nearly 93K votes. This leaves the Democrats advantage in Clark County as a bit over 70% of what it was in 2008. That is still massive and dwarfs what the rest of the state could do.
Again, for Clark County, the 141/2% Democrat raw voter edge is 70% of what they had in 2008 (i.e. 21%). In 2008, their 21% edge fell to 141/2% after all votes were tallied. If we assume an 80% turnout, with a decrease in overall raw vote advantage to 70% of what it is in the early votes, we get a Democratic advantage of just over 10% overall, which would give the Democrats an election day lead of 85K
The rural counties have has a total turnout so far of 53% of active registered voters, which would mean that 2/3 of their vote is in, again assuming an 80% turnout. This would increase the Republicans lead amongst the rural counties to about 33K. If we are generous and bump that up to 35K, than the total Democratic raw vote lead after the election would be around 50K, or just over 5% of the vote. Jon Ralston has said that the rural counties could get to 40K, so that shaves the Democrats advantage in raw vote numbers to about 41/2%. Since Sen. Heller has been running about 4-6% behind Romney, thus making the Nevada Senate race a true toss-up.
This is why registration matters. Between the June primary, and the close of voter registration for the November election, the Democrat’s voter registration lead increased by 230%, adding 50K more voters than Republicans. If these new voters have an 80% turnout, that is 40K voters the Democrats would not have had if their registration advantage had been what it was in the primary. Their projected raw vote lead of 45K would have dropped to only 5K and a margin of less than 1% of the total vote; this would have made Nevada eminently winnable for Romney, and a slam sunk for Sen. Heller.
The 5% advantage is only in raw voters of Democrats over Republicans, and assumes that the difference in cross-over votes is negligible, and that the independents split 50/50. The polls for the independents have ranged from R+18% to D+20%.
However, a perhaps more ominous parallel than to 2008 would be 2010. Though Sen. Reid won the Senate seat in 2010, the Republicans did decently, with their assembly candidates winning more votes than the Democrats. In that election, the Democrats raw voter advantage in Clark County of early votes was within 1% of what their final advantage was after election day. If the Democrats 141/2% lead remains unchanged, their election day vote advantage in raw votes will be almost 100K. If we assume that the rural counties still net 40K votes for the Republicans, the Democrats lead would still be 60K (again assuming Washoe remains a wash), and a vote advantage of over 6%, which would bode ill for Sen. Heller.
The Republicans have claimed that they would win the state if they keep the Democrats Clark County raw voter total to less than 80K. For this to be the case, the Republicans will have to be sure of having an election day ground game that dwarfs anything they’ve demonstrated in early voting, win a large chunk of Democrat voters, AND win independents by a large margin.
Are the Republicans mathematically doomed at this point? No, though it will require that everything goes very, very right on election day. What will they have to do? To win, the Republicans will have to improve to a degree that has not yet been evident, or the Democrats will have to implode before election day.
To have any hope of victory, the Republicans will have to do things: 1st, win the election day votes in Washoe by a convincing margin; 2nd, get the rurals to turnout just as well, if not better, than they have already; 3rd, keep the election day raw voter edge a draw in Clark County, if not outright win it; 4th, win far more Democrats for Romney, then Obama will get of the Republicans; and 5th, win the independent voters by a large margin. This is a tall order, but it is the minimum they will have to do.
|Early Vote (2008 Total)||31.6%||51.8%||17.5%|
|Early Vote (2010 Total)||40.2%||44.2%||15.7%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||37.0%||43.9%||19.1%|
Democratic advantage in early votes and absentees is about the same as the Democrats statewide registration advantage of 7%.
Home of Las Vegas & 70% of state’s population
|Early Vote (2008 Total)||30.6%||52.0%||17.4%|
|Early Vote (2010 Total)||37.4%||46.2%||16.4%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||33.1%||47.7%||19.2%|
|Total Vote 2008||33.4%||47.9%||18.7%|
|Total Vote 2010||37.1%||45.4%||17.5%|
Democratic advantage in early votes and absentees for Clark County is ½% below the Democrats registration advantage of 15%.
Home of Reno and 20% of the state’s population
|Early Vote + Absentee||40.9%||40.5%||18.6%|
|Early Vote (2008 Total)||35.3%||47.1%||17.5%|
|Early Vote (2010 Total)||44.7%||40.3%||15.0%|
Democratic advantage in early votes and absentees in Washoe is ½% below the even registration between Republicans and Democrats.
To summarize, not as bad as in 2008, but probably not good enough to win. Unless the Republicans can pull an election day turn-around that dwarfs anything they’ve been able to do so far, Obama will likely win, and be the first person to win the state without winning Washoe County since Sen. Reid won re-election in 1998 with less than 1000 votes. Sen. Heller is looking like a toss-up, but is winnable if the Republicans don’t collapse on election day.
Let us be reminded of the words of Virgil:
“Do not yield to evil, Attack, attack, more boldly even than fortune seems to permit”
— Virgil, “The Æneid”
The next update on will be in my “official predictions” post, and include any additional absentees that have come in…