With the completion of early voting, probably over ⅔ of the vote is already in, with, save for late returning absentees, only election day voters remaining to change things. Since the early vote is the vast majority of the overall vote, a early voter lead for one party or the other can be determinative, as there just isn’t enough election day voters left to counter it. The Democrats hold an early voter lead from in person early voting of 28,131 voters, which, shrinks to 22,292 when returned absentees and mail ballots received so far are included, which gives the Democrats a lead of 2½%. Turnout has been just over 80% of what is what in 2016. At this point in 2016, Democrats had a lead of 45,628 voters, or 23,336 voters less than in 2016. Both Trump and Senate candidate Heck lost by about 27,000 votes in 2016; at just over 82% turnout of 2016, that margin, ceritis paribus, would mean a margin of about 22,000, or just under the drop of Democrats early voter lead in 2018 compared to 2016. Of note, is that while after early voting Democrats had an over 45,000 early voter lead in 2016, their final victory for the two partisan statewide races after election day votes were county was about ⅗ of their early voter lead, which could mean that their lead is illusionary, at least when it comes to the statewide vote.
Perhaps what is ominous for the Republicans, is that while they did relatively much better than they did vis-à-vis the Democrats in the first week of early voting in 2018 vs. 2016, the Democrats in the second week did even better than they did in the Presidential year of 2016 in the second week of early voting. Does this mean that the Republicans shot their bolt in the first week, with the Democrats demonstrating GOTV power that will carry over to election day, or does this mean that Democrats shot their vote with early voting in the second week and election day won’t be as favorable as the second week of early voting, despite Republicans doing much better in 20118 with absentee ballots than Democrats? Or perhaps both have shot their bolt and neither bolt lands on election day?
There are other factors, as well, that must be considered. Will the 2018 electorate look like the 2016 electorate, or will the prognostications that assume ceritis paribus conditions be off. There are indications that things will not be ceritis paribus. One major factor is the north-south divide in Nevada. In 2016, the Republican Joe Heck was from southern Nevada and was up against a Democrat who had previously won statewide with a majority of votes twice, including in Democrat-unfriendly 2010. Despite this handicap, Heck nonetheless won Washoe county while Trump was losing the same county to Hilary Clinton. That was the first time, with the exception of 2014’s black swan situation, that a statewide candidate in Nevada won Washoe County while losing statewide since Harry Reid eked out a slim victory in 1998. In 2018, the regional situation is reversed. Heller is from northern Nevada and had won four previous statewide elections, while his opponent is an unknown representing a southern Nevada Congressional district. Similarly, Laxalt has a northern Nevada base and has heavily campaigned in the north and the rest of the rural counties, while his Democrat opponent, Sisolak, is a Clark County Commisioner, similarly without a base outside of Clark County; however, Laxalt also has to contend with independent candidates Bundy (son of Cliven Bundy) in additon to the usual siphoning votes of the Independent American Party and Libertarian Party candidates (the only minor parties in Nevada with automatic ballot access). The largest factor, however, is how the center-moderate and right-moderate suburban women will vote. In the special elections, regularly scheduled primary and general elections in 2017 and 2018 so far, there has been a massive change from 20116 that heavily favors Democrats; if 2018 general election results mirror this even if marginally, it will be enough to throw these statewide races, as well as down-ticket races both in Nevada and elsewhere to the Democrats, and heavily so.
For Clark County, the Democrats advantage after the end of early voting is 47,204 early voters. Usually, when the actual early vote results come out, Democrats lead needs to be keep to about 40,000 in Clark County in order for the rural counties and Washoe County to counter it, with the bulk of the countervailing vote coming from the Rural Counties, with up to 50K+ votes coming from the rural counties alone due to their heavy Republican leanings. This lead of 11% is less than their 12½% active voter registration edge in the county. In contrast, the Democrats lead in 2016 in Clark County was 72,672, a difference of about 25,000 early voters.
For Washoe County, the Democrats retain a lead of 1761 early voters, which results in a lead of about 1½% which stands in contrast with the 2% lead Republicans have in voter registration. For comparison, the Democrats lead in 2016 was only 1000, despite overall turnout being 20% higher. This is a very ominous sign in a critical swing county and an indicator of statewide Democrat dominance. Nonetheless, that the Republicans Heller and Laxalt have northern Nevada powerbases in contrast with the Clark County centric Democrats they are running against, this slight improvement from 2016 could be limited if not illusionary; still, this is a very ominous sign for the Republicans.
In the Congressional races, the Republicans are behind in both the 3rd and 4th Congressional races. In the 3rd, Republican Tarkanian is 3500 behind Democrat Lee in early voters, or just under 3%. In 2016, Trump won this district, yet Tarkanian lost it; this is a case where the candidate will likely be the greatest factor in the overall results. In the 4th, former GOP Congressman Hardy is behind former Dem Congressman Horsford in the Clark County portion of the district (which makes up the majority of the district population-wise, by 16,500 voters or just over 13%, when one includes the rural counties save for Lyon County, this drops to 11,930 voters, which is ominously close to Hardy’s loss in actual votes in 2016. Lyon County is split between the 2nd and 4th Congressional districts and the split by said districts was not immediately available, but Republicans had a turnout advantage of 4137 voters; Horsford won Lyon County by just over 2000 votes in 2016. In 2014, when Hardy defeated Horsford, it was by 4000 votes, with Horsford only winning Clark County by about 2000 votes; with the Democrats up over 16000 voters in Clark County, the 4th is likely gone shot for Republicans at this point.
In the state Senate, the Republicans have 9 seats to the Democrats 11, with one former Republican turned independent caucusing with the Democrats who is not running for reelection. There is no possibility of the GOP pic.king up seats this cycle, aside from regaining SD08, which is being vacated by the aforementioned Republican turned independent. However, the Republicans have a shot at picking up SD05 and SD06 in 2020, which means that they need to pick up one of those seats to regain a majority in time for redistricting if they hold all their Senate seats this year, and both if they lose one. Losing more than one would preclude them from regaining the state Senate until after redistricting. In SD08 and SD20, the Democrats have a lead of less than 2% in voter turn-out, with a voter lead of 817 and 573, respectively. While not a good position for Republicans, it is not insurmountable either. However, in the SD09, the Democrats have a lead of 3292; this seat is almost certainly lost, as the percentage advantage nearly 10%, which is not far off from the ca 12% lead the Democrats had in the SD05 and SD06 in 2016, which translated to about 2000 votes and 1900 votes respectively after the first week. By comparison, the actual results saw the Democrats winning SD05 and SD06 by about 500 votes and 1100 votes respectively. At this point, the Republicans need to triage their Clark County efforts to defend SD08 and SD20, and then pour almost all their energy into SD05 and SD06 in 2020, even if it means sacrificing any and all other candidates (though that is unlikely unless saner heads can replace people running the Nevada Republican Party).
As a side note, others have noted that the Democrats could pick up to two seats in the Assembly in Clark County. This is less likely that Republicans picking up a seat in Washoe County. But if both come to pass, then the Democrats will have a supermajority in the Assembly. If the Democrats somehow win both SD08 and SD20, then they would not only have supermajorities in both legislative houses, but the Governorship as well. This would be a total reversal of 2014 results, and would result in almost permanent Democrat favored legislation being enshrined for years if not decades to come.
If the Republicans do retain SD08 and SD20, then only a fool would divert time, energy, and money in 2020 to anything but SD0 and SD06 in 2020.
|Early Vote + Absentee||37.9%||41.%||20.7%|
|Early Vote 2016||36.2%||42.1%||21.7%|
|Early Vote + Absentee 2016||36.2%||42.1%||21.7%|
|Early Vote 2012||36.1%||44.5%||19.4%|
|Early + Absentee 2012||37.0%||43.8%||17.7%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||33.9%||45.1%||20.0%|
|Early Vote 2010||37.4%||46.2%||16.4%|
|Early Vote 2016||31.7%||42.5%||21.9%|
|Early Vote + Absentee 2016||36.2%||42.1%||22.1%|
|Early Vote 2012||32.2%||48.2%||19.5%|
|Early + Absentee 2012||33.1%||47.6%||19.3%|
|Early Vote + Absentee||39.1%||40.5%||20.4%|
|Early Vote 2016||38.5%||40.0%||21.5%|
|Early Vote + Absentee 20116||39.0%||39.7%||21.4%|
|Early Vote 2012||40.5%||40.0%||19.5%|
|Early + Absentee 2012||40.5%||39.9%||19.6%|
3rd Congressional District
|Early Vote 2016||36.4%||40.5%||23.1%|
|Actual Election Results 2016||46.0%||47.2%||6.8%|
4th Congressional District (Excepting part of Lyon County)*
|Early Vote 2016||33.4%||45.2%||21.4%|
|Actual Election Results 2016||44.5%||48.5%||7.0%|
|Actual Results||47.0%||47.9%||5.1% (Libertarian)|
Early voting numbers are in. The Assembly, the state Senate, and the 4th Congressional District are lost, as expected, for at least the next two years and likely far longer. The state Senate is lost for at least the next two years, with the only hope the Republicans have is wining both SD05 and SD06 in 2020, which becomes eceedingly important if Democrat Siolak defeats Republican Laxalt for Governor in 2018. The 3rd Congressional District would be iffy at this point, perhaps moreso considering the track record of their current candidate, and perhaps longer unless the Republicans choose a top tier candidate.
The U.S. Senate seat and Governorship look like Democrat pick-ups with margins of 1-2%. While the north-south divide in addition to the reduced turnout compared to a Presidential election year, the possibility of suburban “soccer moms” swinging both seats to the Democrats is very real. If either Heller or Laxalt wins, it will be due to the lackluster turnout, relatively speaking, during the first week of early voting that will be the deciding element in the election. Incumbent Republicans in the Secretary of State’s and Controller’s races will likely win due to incumbency, and Beers will likely retain the Treasurers seat as well. The Attorney General’s race is probably a toss-up and northern Nevada based Kate Marshall will likely defeat the bemusing Republican Roberson quite handily
The Republicans in Nevada will probably keep the Democrats from gaining a supermajority in the Assembly, though they will lose a seat in the state Senate. This brings the stakes for the 2020 election to higher levels of importance if the Republicans lose the Governorship. The changes that Demcrats will do with a trifecta in government will not be easily reversed, and only a GOP state Senate could force the courts to (yet again) draw districts that are not overly Democratically gerrymandered.
To wit: The Republicans need to concentrate on the state Senate and pulling enough votes statewide to protect Laxalt, and thereafter Heller…
* Lyon County is split between the 1st and 4th Congressional Districts, and early vote broken down by CD was not immediately available; in 2012, Lyon county gave 3012 votes to the Republican, 1002 to the Democrat, and 280 votes to two 3rd Party candidates.
Let up 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”
Until Election Day…