Nevada est omnis divisa in partes tres
The state can be divided, as Caeser might say, into three parts: Clark County, which contains Las Vegas and 70% of the states population; Washoe County, which contains Reno and 20% of the states population; and the rural counties, which contain 10% of the states population.
Clark County leans Democratic, while the rural counties are overwhelmingly Republican if not more conservative (hard right 3rd parties can be elected to partisan office in many rural counties). This leaves Washoe as the “Bellwether” county which has, with two notable exceptions, always gone with the statewide winner in every statewide contest in Nevada this century.
Total active voter registration is up in Nevada by 6½% from 2016. However, the Democrats voter registration lead is down slightly from eighty-nine thousand in 2016 to seventy-five thousand in 2018. But the voter registration increase was not even across the state. In Clark County, the Democrats lead fell by about four thousand overall with an increase of nearly twenty thousand active voters compared to the Republicans increase of about twenty-four thousand. With Washoe being a wash (no pun intended), more or less, the rurals contributed to the overall decrease in Democratic advantage with Lyon County, Douglas County, and Carson City (all in Northern Nevada, and all but Lyon completely within the 2nd Congressional District).
Early Vote Turnout
Early voting, in addition to returned absentees, in Nevada has begun, and will continue for two weeks until the weekend before Election Day. The first day of early voting tends to have one of the heaviest Democratic turn-outs vis-à-vis the Republicans, and this is again the case again this year: Democrats have built up a voter edge of over 3830 statewide, for a voter lead that is close to the Democrats active voter edge. Most rural counties to not have early voting on Sundays. In comparison to Presidential election years, this edge is much less, as would be expected in a non-Presidential election year: In 2016 Democrats has a lead of about eighteen thousand at this point and thirteen thousand in 2012.
For Clark County, the Democrats advantage after the first weekend was fourteen thousand in 2012, and nearly nineteen thousand in 2016; in contrast, in 2010, another Gubernatorial year, it was only about 2500. Since 2010, the total electorate has increased, as has the use of early voting, so 2010 comparisons of raw numbers are not necessary useful. 2014 is being excluded for comparison due to the “Black Swan” nature of that election. However, 2010, much like 2014, resulted in a total number of votes for Republican Assembly candidates exceeding the total number of votes for Democratic Assembly candidates. Those raw numbers, by the end of early voting, will be telling. The Democrats edge in Clark county is at 9%, or about six thousand votes, which is less than their 12½% active voter registration edge in the county; in contrast their edge was 22% in 2016, 18½% in 2012, and comparable to their edge in 2010.
In contrast, Washoe shows the Democrats with a 6% turnout lead, or just under a thousand votes, which stands in contrast with the 2% lead Republicans have in voter registration. For comparison, Democrats had a turnout lead of 10% in 2016 and 10% (for early vote only, the absentee results reported the next day were a wash) in 2012. In both 2016 and 2012, the Republican Senate candidate (Joe Heck and Dean Heller, respectivly), won Washoe County while the Democratic Presidential Candidate won it. Nonetheless, to win statewide, especially against a high voter turnout in Clark County, the Republicans need, in addition to rural county turnout, to no only win Washoe, but win it bigly, which is not indicated so far in the early vote.
In the early vote alone, the Democrats aren’t doing as well as they would in a Presidential year, but still higher than one would expect in a non-Presidential year. Excluding 2014, where Republicans won the early vote turnout on many days, Democrats always win the turnout in heavily Democratic Clark County. In 2010, the previous non-Presidential election, Democrats won Clark County after the first week of voting by less than nine thousand votes and actually were behind in the early vote.
Of note, the Republicans have actually pulled ahead in absentee ballots returned statewide, but also in Clark County. Absentee ballots usually favor the Republicans, but in Clark County, their lead of 479 returned ballots, though slim, is in contrast to not only 2016 and 2012, but 2014 as well, where the Democrats held a lead in returned absentees in Clark County after the first week of early voting. This is notable because the Nevada GOP has been pushing absentee voting much more vigorously than in previous years.
|Early Vote + Absentee||38.8%||43.3%||17.9%|
|Early Vote (1st Week) 2010||42.5%||42.4%||15.1%|
|Early Vote 2016||30.5%||51.3%||18.2%|
|Early Vote + Absentee 2016||33.2%||48.3%||18.5%|
|Early Vote 2012||34.1%||49.9%||16.1%|
|Early + Absentee 2012||35.8%||48.3%||15.9%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||36.4%||45.4%||18.2%|
|Early Vote (1st Week) 2010||37.9%||46.3%||15.8%|
|Early Vote 2016||28.2%||53.5%||18.3%|
|Early Vote + Absentee 2016||29.6%||51.7%||18.6%|
|Early Vote 2012||30.7%||52.9%||16.4%|
|Early + Absentee 2012||32.6%||51.2%||16.1%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||38.7%||44.7%||16.6%|
|Early Vote (1st Week) 2010||46.6%||37.7%||13.7%|
|Early Vote 2016||32.5%||50.3%||17.2%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||36.1%||46.2%||17.7%|
|Early Vote 2012||37.6%||47.4%||14.9%|
Going forward there are plenty of warning signs for Republicans, especially if turnout in Clark County is high since the Republicans are defending three state Senate seats (SD08, SD09, and SD20), losing all of which would give the Democrats a supermajority in the chamber, and for which the Republicans could only lose one if they wish to have any hope of picking up the state Senate (which currently has a one-seat Democrat majority, excluding a retiring independent née Republican) by picking up SD05 and SD06 in 2020.
The next look at early voting will review the entire first week of early voting and a special look as SD08, SD09, and SD20, in addition to the 3rd Congressional District and the Clark County portion of the 4th Congressional District.