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Nevada 2020 Primary Election Update

Remember how we warned you that this election would be different? Indeed, a week later, county election officials are still counting primary votes. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s just different.

So what’s changed since last week, and what else can we learn from this primary as we shift into the general election? Buckle up, because we’re in for a pretty wild ride.

What’s changed since last week?

Most notably, the SD 7 Democratic primary has changed considerably. In early returns, Assembly Member Ellen Spiegel (D-Henderson) held a seemingly clear lead. Yet just moments ago, former Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange took a 93 vote lead over Spiegel (38.0% Lange, 37.0% Spiegel). Lange had been chipping away at Spiegel’s lead for the last week, but she won yesterday’s batch by a bigger margin than she did with the prior two days’ batches of ballots. Considering the trendlines that have mostly been moving in Lange’s favor, I’m feeling pretty confident in declaring that Roberta Lange will probably take over David Parks’ (D-Las Vegas) seat in the Senate next February.

Moving over to the Assembly, we’ve seen some more lead changes. In AD 18, Venicia Considine has taken a narrow lead over Lisa Ortega (39.8% Considine, 37.3% Ortega) for the Democratic nomination there. Next door in AD 20, David Orentlicher has pulled ahead of Emily Smith (45.9% Orentlicher, 39.1% Smith) for the Democratic nomination there. In both districts (which by the way, are nested into SD 7), the more “establishment” backed candidates have pulled ahead of candidates who relied more on grassroots Democratic support.

Then on the other end of the Las Vegas Valley, Radhika Kunnel has pulled ahead of 2018 Democratic nominee Jennie Sherwood (35.5% Kunnel, 31.9% Sherwood) for the Democratic nod in AD 2. Unlike the above mentioned seats, AD 2 is likely the one remaining Republican held Assembly seat that Democrats can flip in the general election. 

And what still looks the same?
Annie Black

Switching over to the Republicans, Mesquite City Council Member Annie Black continues to pad her now-landslide victory over incumbent Assembly Member Chris Edwards (R-Las Vegas), (60.9% Black, 39.1% Edwards) making AD 19 by far the most embarrassing loss for “establishment” Republicans. In a not-quite-embarrassing but still stinging loss for said “establishment”, former Assembly Member Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) continues to hold a strong lead over Sandra Linares in AD 31 (51.4% Dickman, 33.8% Linares), guaranteeing a fourth consecutive general election between her and current Assembly Member Skip Daly (D-Sparks).

Heading back south, the AD 4 Republican primary has tightened as in-person election day and late vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots have entered into the count, but former Assembly Member Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas) still hangs onto enough of a lead over Donnie Gibson (51.3% McArthur, 48.7% Gibson) that will be hard for Gibson to completely overcome absent a larger than expected pool of not-yet-counted ballots. But in nearby AD 37, there’s been little change as Andy Matthews continues to hold a wide lead over Michelle Mortensen (48.9% Matthews, 26.2% Mortensen). 

In better news for more moderate(-ish?) and traditional “establishment” (as in, pre-Trump) oriented Republicans, Heidi Kasama continues to hold a wide lead over Erik Sexton (48.5% Kasama, 26.4% Sexton) in swing seat AD 2 (see above). Heading north and west to AD 36, Assembly Member Greg Hafen (R-Pahrump) has expanded his lead over far-right challenger Joe Bradley (54.6% Hafen, 45.4% Bradley). In AD 40 Robert Day Williams has narrowed the gap some, but former Assembly Member P.K. O’Neill (R-Carson City) is still in a solid position (54.6% O’Neill, 45.4% Williams) to return to the Legislature next year.

So what does this primary mean for the general election?
Photo by Andrew Davey

Moving up to the federal races, former Assembly Member Jim Marchant (R-Las Vegas) has expanded his lead over Sam Peters (34.5% Marchant, 28.3% Peters) in NV-04, with much buzzed-about candidate Lisa Song Sutton still a distant third (15.0%). And in NV-03, WWE star turned Trump-esque politician Dan Rodimer still dominates with former Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz and also buzzed-about candidate Mindy Robinson far behind (49.3% Rodimer, 27.5% Schwartz, 13.3% Robinson).

On the Democratic side, despite the late breaking unflattering headlines hitting Reps. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) and Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas), both continue to coast in their respective primaries: 83.0% for Lee in NV-03, and 75.2% for Horsford in NV-04.

Photo by Andrew Davey

On turnout, the Secretary of State’s office has reported just over 447,000 votes counted so far, but they’re also reporting over 488,000 ballots received. On the 488,000 ballots received, 44% came from Democratic voters and 40% came from Republican voters. By comparison, Democrats eked out a mere 3,000 vote turnout lead (44% D, 44% R) in the 2018 primary and Republicans led turnout in the 2016 (down-ballot) primary.

While general election voting is still another four months away, Democrats’ turnout lead here in Nevada fits with a trend we’ve been seeing nationally so far this year. Since the New Hampshire primary in February, Democrats have experienced improving turnout vs. Republicans in a growing list of swing states, including Pennsylvania and Georgia most recently. While plenty can happen between now and November, what we’re not seeing so far is any kind of “enthusiasm gap” benefitting Republicans. Keep this in mind next time any pundit cherrypicks polling data to claim such.

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