Here’s the deal: Today’s the final day of early voting in Nevada, and we’re finally getting a clearer picture of what’s going on. After a slow Halloween across the state, turnout spiked in both urban counties on the penultimate day. As long as historical trends hold, expect a final wave of voters to rush in today…
And maybe, just maybe, “the blue wave” to wash across the Silver State on Tuesday.
It’s almost over. Don’t we know who’s winning?
After a spooky Halloween that apparently scared some Nevadans away from the voting booths, over 9,700 people in Washoe County and over 31,000 people in Clark County cast ballots yesterday. Democrats got the slightest of turnout leads in Washoe and a much heavier 13% turnout lead in Clark. As a result, Democrats are hanging onto a 600+ overall turnout lead in Washoe while building a 37,000+ turnout lead in Clark and maintaining what will probably be a 14,000+ (or 2.7%) statewide turnout lead once all the rural counties’ Thursday tallies are included.
Remember what I said about “the Clark County Democratic firewall”? Here’s where it matters: As the rurals come in, Republicans get a boost. But as long as Clark County provides substantial turnout, Democrats probably have more than enough to withstand the rurals’ “red tide”.
Thanks to solid turnout in key Democratic strongholds (including UNLV), Democrats are in a prime position to finish early voting tonight with a 40,000+ voter turnout lead down here. Unless Dean Heller and Adam Laxalt are nearing 100% of the rural vote (which is absolutely not happening, see below), this likely means Jacky Rosen and Steve Sisolak will begin the Tuesday night vote count with hefty leads. And unless Republicans turn out in historically massive numbers today and Tuesday, Democrats should end early voting with a 15,000+ statewide turnout lead that will put them in the driver’s’ seat on Election Night.
Washoe, Washoe, Washoe!
For many outside political junkies, Nevada politics is centered on what happens in Vegas. For those of us who live here, we know that there is a wide expanse of Nevada beyond the 215 Beltway.
Thus far, rural turnout has kept Republicans in the game. However, a more detailed look at rural turnout isn’t entirely good news for Republicans: In most rural counties, Democratic turnout is either keeping up with Republicans’ (as is the case in Douglas County) or slightly outperforming Republicans’ as a proportion of all their active registered voters (as is the case in Carson City and Storey County). Unless rural Nonpartisans are breaking more heavily for Republicans than they normally do, this suggests Republicans can only run up the score so much.
And then, of course, there’s the ultimate swing county: Washoe. I recently got an updated breakdown of the early vote from a very valuable source, and the dynamic thus far remains mostly the same. Republicans have rebounded a bit in the Southwest Reno suburban areas that tend to have more upscale, college-educated voters (AD’s 25 and 26), but they’re still underperforming their historic norms. Meanwhile Democrats continue to fall behind in AD 31, where Skip Daly (D-Sparks) is at risk of losing in a the mostly blue-collar district that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, but they’re still running up the score in the other three Assembly Districts (24, 27, and 30) that are more diverse and/or have more college-educated voters.
Looking forward: What to watch tonight, tomorrow, and Tuesday
Typically, the last day of early voting is a huge one. In 2016, the lines were so big in some early voting sites that the Clark County Election Department kept them open so everyone in line could vote (which prompted a lawsuit from the Trump campaign that was promptly tossed out of court). If we see similarly long lines again tonight, keep an eye on where those lines are. Not only will they give us a sense of how big the final “Clark County Democratic firewall” will be, but they will also help us better understand where that “firewall” is being built.
Pro tip: North Las Vegas and most of the neighborhoods east of The Strip and north of Henderson comprise the traditional Democratic base here, while Henderson and Summerlin have more of the affluent, college-educated voters who have traditionally voted Republican but broke for Hillary Clinton in 2016. If you really want to have fun today, try locating the early voting sites on The New York Times’ 2016 election map to get a better sense of where the early votes are coming from.
I’ll be running around today and covering something very interesting tonight, so stay tuned for that. Then tomorrow morning, I’ll be back to run through the final early voting tally with you and give the rest of my final election forecast. Until then, Happy Pre-election Friday!