The (now-post) early voting blog, 2022
Updated, 11/9/22. 9 AM
Good morning after, followers of this blog, which now has become a post-early vote/Election Day blog.
Election ends Saturday, unless (until?) there are lawsuits.
Here’s where we are:
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is down by 23,000 votes as I write this.
Gov. Steve Sisolak is down by 40, 000 votes.
Lt. Gov. Lisa Cano Burkhead is down by 57,000 votes.
Secretary of State hopeful Cisco Aguilar is down by 9,000 votes.
Treasurer Zach Conine is down by 9,000 votes.
Controller hopeful Ellen Spiegel is down by 56,000 votes.
Attorney General Aaron Ford is ahead by 35,000 votes.
The Washoe folks just posted the results of their 18,500 Election Day mail ballots, and the Republicans had a slight edge — 300 votes out of 18,500. Shouldn’t change the current numbers that much, but slight advantage to the GOP because of 6,000 indies there leaning GOP, I think.
There are an unknown (but presumably relatively small number of ballots in rural Nevada and an unknown but large (as much as six figures) number of mail ballots coming from Clark.
Turnout in Clark was so low — well under 50 percent — that both sides think as many as 100,000 or more could be left. Let’s be conservative (especially because we don’t know the rurals) and say the ceiling is 100,000 mail ballots altogether.
Here’s what the math says:
(For these simple purposes, I am ignoring what goes to none of these candidates or minor candidates. Remember that Dems won mail ballots by 2-to-1 in Clark, and Cortez Masto and Sisolak had double-digit Clark leads when the first mail/early vote numbers popped up — and those early votes were dominated by Rs, so the Dems should win the mail by a lot.)
So you can see that even if there are only 70,000 ballots, if the Dems can win them big, Cortez Masto has a shot. But it gets very dicey for her below 100,000 and if the margin dips below 25 points.
It’s hard to paint a scenario, unless there are many more ballots than are estimated AND the margins are huge, that the governor can make up 40,000 votes.
Cano Burkhead and Spiegel seem to have no path.
Aguilar and Conine should win unless the pile of ballots is smaller than we think and the margin is smaller, too. But it's not a sure thing.
I’ll take a look down the ballot when I can, but this is a glance while RNC operatives look for postmen who fell asleep in their trucks in Lyon and Nye counties and DNC minions peek in the windows at the Clark County Election Department to see how many ballots are there…
Updated, 11/8/22, 7 AM
Welcome to the longest day and the longest week.
Before I set the stage and tell you what to look for tonight, a reminder: Mail ballots can be counted until Saturday at 5 PM. If a race is close tonight, be very skeptical of anyone who simply declares victory.
So here we are as polls open, with no rural updates to report:
Turnout is at 672,000, or 36.3 percent. Let’s say the rurals push it above 675,000.
The Clark Dem firewall is above 39,000, or 8.7 percent. It’s below the Dem reg edge of 9.5 percent.
The Washoe Dem lead is 1,642 ballots, or 1.2 percent. The GOP has a 1.5 percent reg edge there.
The rural lead for the GOP is at least 30,000 ballots, maybe as high as 33,000 by now. If the margins are about what they were in 2018 and 2020, that means the Rs start with about a 35,000-vote lead in the rurals. I have said all along that some D candidates can expect to lose the rurals by 50,000 or so; anything less becomes a danger sign for some Republicans.
Let me pause here to remind you this is not a presidential year where tribal voting patterns almost always stick. The four candidates in the top of the ticket races are very different. Polls show GOP gubernatorial hopeful Joe Lombardo running ahead of GOP Senate contender Adam Laxalt, with a better ability to garner indie and Dem votes. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has been running behind Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in most polls, and his biggest vulnerability is in Clark County, where Lombardo is sheriff.
I say all this to suggest these races are more difficult to read because of more potential for crossover and indie attraction And it’s why I think Lombardo has a better chance to win than Laxalt.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TONIGHT: I’m not sure, as I never am, what numbers will post first but I will be most interested in the Clark early/mail numbers, those 450,000 votes. If Sisolak and Cortez Masto are ahead by less than 10 percent, it could be a very long night. If they are as low as 6 or 7 points ahead, they will find it difficult to survive. They need to win Washoe County to retain their seats, so look at those numbers when they pop up. Washoe turnout already is 43.5 percent. Election Day turnout may not be as robust there. Look at the raw vote totals, too, because I will go into the evening assuming a 50,000-vote deficit in the rurals for the top of the ticket incumbents, give or take.
One more thing: In the first mostly mail election here two years ago, about 15 percent of the vote was counted after Election Day. No one I know expects mail to be that heavy this year — no pandemic, it's a midterm — but there will be thousands of mail ballots come in, with Dems likely winning them close to 2-to-1. It may not be over tonight.
A reminder of comparisons:
--In 2020, which is not apples to apples because it was a presidential year and only relevant because it was the first mail-dominant election, the Clark Dem firewall was 90,000 as Election Day arrived. That was 11.5 percent, well above this year’s but just under what the reg lead was two years ago. So by percentage, the Dems are just below what they had in 2020.
--In 2018, the closest orange to this year’s apple, the Clark firewall was 47,000 by Election Day. That was 11 percent of the votes cast there, and it was still 1.5 points below reg. The statewide Dem lead was 3.5 percent, twice what it is now but under the statewide lead of 5 percent. So the Dems were under reg in Clark and statewide and won both the governor and Senate races. That may give them hope, but the caveat is the atmospherics are so, so different. I’ll distill as I have: That was Trump, this is Biden.
What’s clear is that if there is a red wave here, the early voting/mail data has masked it. In 2014, when a deep red wave hit Nevada, there was no Clark Dem firewall. The GOP actually led before Election Day. If Republicans are to make a red wave this cycle, they will have to take advantage today of a diminished Dem statewide reg lead (under 3 percent) and a potentially porous Clark firewall. We really won’t know if dominoes are poised to topple or if Dems can hold on until those first numbers post tonight.
More numbers: The Rs have a 2 percent turnout edge — 45.3 percent to 43.2 percent (probably slightly greater because of outstanding rurals). This is not unusual. The Dem reg advantage, though, means the Dems (38.9 percent) have a greater share of those who have voted than the Rs (37.3 percent). This is why polls are relatively useless at this point: Can the Republicans have a greater share of the electorate after Election Day than the Dems? If so, it’s goodbye to some Dems on the ballot; if not, it could be a long night for Repubs.
For context, in 2018, the Dems won in electorate share, 40-37, after all the votes were counted. In 2020, it was just under 3 points, 37-34.5. It’s 1.5 points right now, so you can see why these races might be close considering the Dems won at the top of the ticket in 2018 (4 to 5 points) and 2020 (2.5 points).
The voters left chart has only changed from the last one in Clark and Washoe:
Look at how many Clark votes are left and that huge D advantage, and look at the gigantic disparity in the rurals between R votes left and D votes left.
If you believe 2018 was the better analogy, where turnout was 62 percent and Election Day was 21 percent of the overall vote, then expect close to 450,000 to turn out statewide. That would make overall turnout right about what it was in 2018. That seems high to me — I think it will be under 350,000 — but we shall see.
It’s the makeup of that turnout that remains critical. Can the Culinary union, which set out at 6 AM to undertake a massive GOTV program, help Dems increase their Clark firewall? Or can nothing stop a GOP swamping of the polling places from Las Vegas to Elko to Reno?
I will try to give updates of turnout on Twitter as I get them and post some here – follow me @ralstonreports and keep checking a live election blog on this site.
Thanks so much for reading this blog the last two weeks. A lot of work, as always, went into crunching all these numbers. But I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have producing it.
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Updated, 11/7/22, 2:30 PM
Good afternoon from the Land of Five Election Nights.
(Yes, ballots will be counted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (though not so much because of Veterans Day) and Saturday.)
Here is some interesting information extracted from the voter file by a nonpartisan voter file provider, L2, which has been doing this for more than a half-century — though the numbers need to be updated with the latest vote tallies:
584,865 Voters in Nevada have voted Early or Absentee
Party: 39.4% D / 36.6% R
Gender: 50.4% F / 48.4% M
Age: 18-29 7.1% / 30-39 9.3% / 40-49 12.4% / 50-64 29.3% / 65+ 41.7%
Demographic: 65.7% White / 13.6% Hispanic / 4.6% AA / 3.6% Asian
Rural 13.1% / Suburban 14.5% / Urban 72.3%
8.2% New Voters
If the Hispanic number seems low, it’s probably because that cohort often votes late, so it may tick up a bit. But if it stays that low, could be an issue for Dems.
The age numbers jumped out at me: Forty-two percent are 65 or over and only 16.4 percent are under 39. I know I shouldn’t be that surprised, but were George and Whitney et. al. wrong: The children are not our future?
For those interested, I’ve also pulled some legislative race data and the headline is: The news is not good for the GOP in the state Senate, but they are in position to pick up Assembly seats. To wit:
Dems are in control, 12-9. The Rs have to win all three seats in play to take the majority. Here’s how they look:
SD8 (Marilyn Dondero Loop-D): +3.5 percent, Dems, or a half-point above reg, 1,244 ballots.
SD9 (Melanie Schieble - D): +9.6 percent, Dems, or about a half point below reg, 2,700 ballots.
SD 12 (Keith Pickard-R-open): +7.7 percent, Dems, or 1.9 points above reg, 2,600 ballots
Bottom line: Unless the GOP has a huge surge on Election Day or there is a ton of crossover/indie voting going to the Rs, the Dems will hold SD9 and pick up SD12. SD8 looks close to a toss-up.
Dems in control, 26-16. Even though the turnout numbers in AD 2 (Heidi Kasama-R) and AD22 (Melissa Hardy-R) are close, knowledgeable insiders tell me those districts are R-friendly and they are fine. The Dems may be slightly concerned about Speaker-in-Waiting Steve Yeager being John Moored (it’s not him again, it’s another candidate) because Dems are only up 5.5 percent in a 6.6 percent district, but no sign any GOP wave goes as deep as it did in 2014 to remove another speaker-in-waiting, Jason Frierson, who lost to the forgettable John Moore.
Here are some other seats to watch:
AD21 (Elaine Marzola-D): +6.7 percent, Dems, or 1,200 ballots, 2 points above reg.
AD25 (Jill Tolles-R-open): +7.5, Dems, or 1,600 ballots, 5 points above reg.
AD35 (Michelle Gorelow-D): +3 percent, Dems, or 500 ballots, or .3 percent below reg.
AD37 (Andy Matthews-R-open): +3.9 percent, or 900 ballots, .9 percent above reg.
It’s possible others may be in play if a deep wave comes, but these are the four the Repubs are focusing on to make inroads. They would appear to have a decent shot at taking Gorelow’s seat, with the only complication that far-rightie Mindy Robinson may siphon votes from Tiffany Jones. They also should hold Matthews’s seat, although it’s not certain. But Marzola is in a relatively strong, if not safe position, while the GOP has blown a chance to hold onto Tolles’s seat by nominating far-rightie Sam Kumar, who looks as if he will be trounced.
Bottom line: The Dems could win all of those four seats and actually have a supermajority in the lower house. But the Rs are in position to hold Matthews and possibly take Gorelow and Marzola’s, too, which would put them at 24. It would be 25 if Kumar loses. A Yeager upset and they are at 24. And if Yeager were to lose – seems about as likely as me eating a doughnut with jelly filling – that means a deep red wave is coming and we are in 22 or 21 territory. (Who doesn’t want a tie again like 1995, the smoothest session in history?)
This isn’t 2014, though, so the latter scenario is pretty far fetched. We will know more tomorrow.
Back later if there is a mail dump tonight…
Updated, 11/7/22, 8 AM
Good morning, and we are almost home, folks. (And by almost, I mean votes can be counted until Saturday at 5 PM, and lawsuits can be filed… well, forever.)
Here’s where we are:
Not much changed overnight — essentially nothing in Clark and some more mail in Washoe — and the statewide lead remains small for Dems. The Dems are now up to 1,300 ballots ahead of the Repubs in Washoe. It is a little more than 8,300 ballots statewide, or 1.3 percent of 660,000 ballots cast, but that is without any rural update. So it’s probably still about 1 percent.
Because of the apple/orange nature of this election, it is very hard to read even for experienced election nerds. (In case you missed it, I took my shot at doing so.)
If the mail comes in at a decent clip, the Dems should have a 40,000-plus Clark firewall before voting begins Tuesday. That’s a sizable margin, but still below registration and comfort level for Dems used to larger firewalls.
The urban margin, which I have been telling you has been at 7 or 8 points the last two cycles, is at 6.7 points right now. Just like everything else, right on the edge. It's going to be close to 7 once the mail comes in.
I still think it’s tough for turnout to get to 1 million votes, but it’s possible. That would only be a little over half the eligible electorate, and total turnout remains under 40 percent as I write this. The real question is if it ends up being that low, what will the makeup of the Election Day turnout be?
I don’t know, do you?
There is a large pool of votes still out there — 1.2 million! Here's what they look like, with the usual caveat of no rural updates:
A lot of room for Dems to grow the lead in Clark, but if they don't, look at that GOP rural vote that is outstanding! And that indie number, although many of them will not vote after being auto-registered at the DMV.
The latest on the three congressional districts:
CD1 (Titus): 8.4 points, 1.6 points below reg, or 12,000 ballots. That’s a decent cushion.
CD3 (Lee): 5.6 points, just under reg, 9,500 ballots. Decent margin but not enough to feel safe by any means.
CD4, Clark part (Horsford): 11.5 points, or about a point and a half under reg. Nearly 15K ballots, which should be enough to more than offset rural bleeding.
Here’s the latest on the statewide models, which have changed very little even with the mail dump over the weekend — and remember they are slightly worse than this for the Dems because the rurals are not updated:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.1-47.1 — 1 percent, Dems.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 47.1-46.2, Repubs. — 0.9 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.5-47.4, Repubs. — 0.1 percent, Repubs.
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.5-45.5, GOP. — 4 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.2-46.9, Repubs. — 1.2 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.7-45.3 GOP. — 4.4 percent, Repubs.
It’s pretty simple: If Dems don’t hold their base, they probably can’t win. If they get crushed among indies, they can’t win. The only caveat is that I think there will be ticket splitters – Lombardo-CCM voters? – and the mail coming in will make these models more favorable to Dems.
I think the Dems believe they actually can win urban indies and win Washoe — I don’t think that’s irrational exuberance as much as it is extracted from data. But Republicans also believe that they have an advantage because so many of their inveterate voters have not cast ballots and will do so tomorrow.
It’s so hard to say what will happen because of the closeness of the early vote, the unpredictable mail deliveries and the mystery of Election Day (Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?). What kind of lunatic would actually predict outcomes in these circumstances?
No mail report today, but supposed to have one tomorrow from Clark. More when I have it…
Updated, 11/6/22, 9:35 AM
Good morning, faithful blog followers.
When I last left you, the state was in an unprecedented virtual tie – the SOS had some problems with posting numbers Saturday, but it was a few hundred ballots either way, which surely gave the GOP reason for optimism because the Dems are always ahead by this time, and the Clark firewall was looking potentially porous.
The Dem totals were boosted overnight by a gain of 8,100 mail ballots in Clark and 400 in Washoe. So now they have a statewide lead of about 8K, but it’s probably closer to 6.5K or 7K once the rural mail is tallied.
Let’s say it’s 7K, or 1 percent. Again/still, this is The No Margin for Error Election on both sides.
The Clark firewall is about 37K, well under the 47K it was before the election in 2018, but it could get closer by Tuesday. (In 2020, Clark did not release new mail Tuesday AM, so we may not know.) The firewall is now at almost 8.5 percent, or a point below registration.
The Ds have a 1,000-ballot lead in Washoe, where the GOP has a slight reg lead. The Dems needs to hold their own there or some of their statewide candidates could lose. Washoe not only will be the decider, but it could save some Dems the way the vote looks now.
Rural turnout is far from overwhelming yet, so keep an eye on Election Day there. I project about a 30K vote lead for the top of the ticket right now, but it’s also true, as it is elsewhere, that Adam Laxalt and Joe Lombardo may perform differently in the three regions. I’d guess Laxalt runs ahead of Lombardo in the rurals and Lombardo runs ahead of Laxalt in Clark — and they both could lose Washoe.
By how much in all of these areas? I’m just not sure.
Apples, oranges, etc.
I know people are looking for easy analogies or comparisons to past cycles, but this really does remain an apple to other oranges. 2020 was the only previous mostly mail election (it actually was only 48 percent of the total after Election Day), and the Dems gained almost the same number of ballots on the Saturday after early voting ended two years ago as they did this weekend. That moved the Clark firewall from 81K to about 89K, and turnout was so much higher that it’s not analogous in raw votes, but still significantly down in percentage.
So where are we?
It’s still close in ballots, and if the Republicans win Election Day by a substantial margin — you can see what’s happened previously in graphs from an earlier post — they will do quite well. Considering all the headwinds the Dems face this cycle, it’s almost amazing they are even in the game.
Turnout, of course, remains key.
About 660,000 people have voted so far, or 35 percent. That means to get to 1 million voters, or about 55 percent, you need 340,000 more ballots to come in. by mail and on Election Day. Turnout was 62 percent in 2018.
I think it’s possible that 300,000 turn out on Election Day; that’s only 16 percent of active voters, and in recent cycles besides 2020 (when only 11 percent turned out), about a fifth or a quarter of the turnout was on Election Day. Twenty percent turnout on Election Day this cycle, which would be twice what it was in 2020, would be about…360,000 voters.
Apples, oranges, etc.
In 2018, Election Day was 30 percent of the total electorate. That could happen again — if it’s 1 million voters, that means 300,000 on Election Day. Possible.
Election Day has not been a huge part of the vote in Nevada for a decade and a half, and it’s also true that during the last four cycles, the GOP only crushed it on Election Day in 2020, winning by almost double digits. But it was only 11 percent of the vote. The Dems won Election Day in 2018 by just 4,000 votes.
The Repubs won Election Day by 16K in 2020, but the die was already cast. Can they do it in a year when the die is not cast? If so, they will win many races; if not, if the Dems can hold their own and keep building a firewall through mail, they might surprisingly hold on.
The Dems sliced a point off the GOP turnout advantage with that big mail boost Saturday, but it’s still 4 points in Clark. There are SO many votes left in Clark, too — nearly 900,000. Dems need to do well there Tuesday or else.
There is no evidence of GOP enthusiasm in these early numbers, but they have done enough to keep it close because the Ds have not turned out in great numbers, either. D turnout is 42 percent of its voters, and R turnout is 45 percent of its voters. Three percent ain’t nuthin’, but it also doesn’t show overwhelming enthusiasm for the top of the ticket.
Are there tens of thousands of Republicans just waiting to vote on Election Day, which could change everything? Maybe. (I will not mention the snow and rain forecast for much of the state Tuesday because it will only confuse me more…)
I still think it comes down to the non-major party voters – about 150K so far – and what those margins are. Yes, there will be ticket-splitters and those who choose “none of these candidates. But how the indies vote will determine this election.
Going to watch the Bills and will post predictions later (tradition is tradition, no matter how difficult!)…
Updated, 11/5/22, 5:30 PM
Diving into the numbers, this first set shows you why the Dems should be concerned:
--The regional breakdowns have to please the GOP.
Clark is only 66.6 percent of the vote that is in. That is 4.5 percent below its share of the overall vote. Forget that the firewall is down; that is a real red flag for the Dems.
The rurals are 1.6 percent above their usual 12.2 percent of the vote. The higher that gets, the more likely a GOP candidate can win by enough in the rurals to offset the urban areas. This is how Adam Laxalt won for AG in 2014.
Washoe is well above its usual 16.4 percent at 19.6 percent. So the decider county may have a disproportionate share of votes if the snow doesn’t keep people away Tuesday…
--The five big rurals, which make up 80 percent of the rural vote, are responsible for 24,000 of the nearly 29,000-ballot lead the GOP has there. If the landslide there is even bigger than the Trump tsunami of 2020 in the cows, that could mean the vote lead in some races already is 40,000 or so. (If you don’t want to scroll down — and that hurts me, by the way — they are Lyon, Douglas, Carson, Nye and Elko).
--With the rurals added, here is what the models look like – for those who have been following, none of these models assume Ds win indies because I have seen no polling or common sense that they will, but if they do, all GOP bets are off:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 47.6-47.6 D+200 votes!
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 47.6-45.7, Repubs. 1.9 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 48.1-46.9, Repubs. 1.2 percent, Repubs. (First time this model flipped to GOP.)
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 50-45, GOP. 5 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.8-46.5, Repubs. 2.3 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 50.1-44.9, GOP. 5.2 percent, Repubs.
So Repubs are at worst tied in all of the models right now, and if they are winning indies at all, they are ahead. Republicans feel confident they will win Election Day, so this is a bleak scenario for Dems.
But – BUT – mail coming in tonight and Monday, not to mention all next week if postmarked by the 8th. So the situation will improve a touch for Dems in next few days, and if enough mail comes in after Election Night, some of their candidates will survive. (Fifteen percent came in after Election Day in 2020, but doubt it gets that high this year for several reasons, including shorter time frame to count – law changed from seven days to four.)
Bottom line: Dems better hope their prayers of a Dobbs-affected turnout and GOP crossovers are coming true because right now, this is on a knife’s edge. The math, as I like to say, is the math. So it’s all about the mail now. Speaking of which….
--It’s not out of the question that some of these races, including the top of the ticket ones, will be close at the end of Election Night. If anyone declares victory on Election Night, considering mail can come in for four days and be cured for six days, be suspicious. Both sides know what the law says – a law the Dems passed last year – so if anyone declares victory, that person is an election law denier. The count will not have stopped, and thousands of more ballots could be counted. Don’t forget that.
--Turnout is now at 620,500-plus, or 33.5 percent. Are there really 380,000 more votes out there to get to 1 million voters? Washoe is at 40 percent, Clark is at 31 percent and the big five rurals are either above 40 percent (Caron and Nye) or in the low- to mid-30s. Overall, GOP turnout is at 43 percent and D turnout is at 39.3 percent.
Here are the votes left in all counties:
So, yes, the Dems have a big advantage in voters left out there in Clark, and if they can turn out a reasonable percentage of them, they could change the dynamic. But just look at those rural numbers! So much room for GOP turnout there, and the Dems might have done about as well as they could have so far in those 15 red counties.
I’ll keep an eye on this.
--There are also more than 550,000 indies/others who have not voted, but I think many of them are dead registrations – that is, they were auto-registered at the DMV and have no intention of voting. So far, 144,443 have cast ballots, or 23 percent, well below the 38 percent each of Dems and Rs that have turned out.
One fun extrapolation: If 1 million voters cast ballots and those percentages hold – I doubt they will because one party will have an advantage, I’d guess – that would be, rounding here:
D – 380,000 ballots
R – 380,000 ballots
O – 240,000 ballots
So the lightest margin with indies, assuming the bases hold, and they won’t in all races, would determine the winner.
Not sure the Ds and Rs stay tied, as I said, but if they do, that’s where we are. I will track these percentages as we go forward.
More when I have it.
Updated, 11/5/22, 2 PM
Just got the rurals updated. The fact that I didn't have updated numbers from two of the big rural counties made a big difference.
The GOP rural lead appears to be (waiting for official SOS update) greater than the Clark firewall, and with Washoe so close, the state essentially is tied. Tied!
This I have never seen.
I'll take a closer look later, but I need to eat something. A man cannot subsist on voting numbers alone!
Updated, 11/5/22, noon:
Good morning, all who care about Nevada (I assume this is most people):
The early voting in-person two-week period is over, mail can keep coming in for a week and be counted (so long as postmarked through the 8th) and signatures can actually be cured through Monday the 14th.
So where are we, what do we know and what are the known unknowns?
It’s pretty simple: If Republicans are holding their base and are winning indies by 5 or more points, they have a narrow lead in statewide races. If the Dems are holding their base and winning indies by a few or breaking even, they have a narrow lead in statewide races. All of the atmospherics tilt toward the Repubs and most polls show them winning indies, so the numbers must give them optimism. But the Dems still have that machine that Harry built, so they are at least in the game right now. (See the models below for specifics.)
In the House races on the national radar, at least two of the three – Dina Titus and Susie Lee – are in play based on these numbers while Steven Horsford has more reason for optimism that he can hold on, although I wouldn’t quite call him safe. (See below for details.)
On to the numbers. Caveat that I don’t have final rural figures, but:
The Dem statewide lead is 7,700 ballots as of this morning — that’s 1.3 percent of the nearly 600,000 that have been posted. I assume the rurals will reduce that margin by a couple of thousand, maybe 3,000 — I hope the SOS posts numbers later today — so let’s call it 5,000, or just under 1 percent.
So you can see how close this is and why Dem feelings range anywhere from concern to panic. We should have official SOS numbers later (fingers crossed), and another Clark mail update is expected today, too. But we do have some information to analyze:
The Clark firewall is under 29,000, and that is under 7 percent. The Dem reg lead in Clark is actually 9.5 percent, so that is 2.5 percent under reg.
Reminder: A Dem statewide candidate needs to win Clark by 10 to feel good, 9 to feel in the game. Anything less and it’s nail-biting time. (Joe Biden won Clark by 9.5 points and won by 2.5 points statewide.)
Context: In 2018, the firewall was 47,000, or 11 percent. That, too, was under reg (by 2 points), but having a 13-point reg cushion is much different than a 9.5 reg cushion. This is, indeed, The No Margin For Error Election in Nevada.
The turnout by party at the end of early voting is worth comparing, too:
In 2022, 42 percent of Republicans have turned out in Clark while 37 percent of Democrats have — a 5-point difference.
In 2018 at this time, 42 percent of Dems had turned out in Clark and 45 percent of Repubs — a 3-point difference.
So turnout for both parties is down, but the GOP margin is larger. (Dems seem to have been more motivated to turn out in 2018 because of Trump than the Repubs do because of Biden, but it’s not over until…)
The real question — still — is what happens Tuesday. The Dems have nearly 300,000 voters in Clark who have yet to cast ballots (some surely have mailed it in and are not posted yet) while the Repubs have just under 200,000. That’s a big gap, and shows the Dems have an opportunity to do well (as they did in 2018) on Election Day. But, as I keep saying, that was Trump, this is Biden. Can the Dems (hello, Culinary) get enough voters out to counteract the GOP enthusiasm?
If they lose on Election Day in Clark — or don’t cut that turnout gap in mail in the next few days — that is going to cost some or most Dem candidates. Turnout on Election Day in 2018 was 223,000, or 20 percent. Dems won Clark on Election Day in Clark by more than 10 percent. A 20 percent Election Day turnout in 2022 in Clark would be about 260,000 voters.
I am flying blind on new rural numbers right now, but I think we can safely assume that the Rs are leading there by at least 23,000 ballots, maybe more. If the margins are what I think they are, especially in the top races, that could mean as large an actual vote lead of 26,000 to 27,000. To negate that, Dems would be needing to hold their base in Clark and/or not get killed among indies.
Washoe remains the possible decider. The Rs have slowly chipped away at the Dem early vote lead there, and turnout has been very high. It’s at 40 percent now, or almost 10 percent higher than Clark. It’s essentially a tie in Washoe right now, with the Dems erasing a 4,000 voter reg deficit with a 2.5 percent turnout advantage.
Can Steve Sisolak and CCM do what Sisolak and Jacky Rosen did in 2018, which is win Washoe by a few thousand votes? That was Trump and this is Biden, but they may need to repeat that performance to survive.
The math here is the math, folks. There is just so little margin for error because the statewide Dem ballot margin is so small. Base slippage, indie tilt will determine all of these races.
Some other data points before we get to updated models:
---The Clark mail numbers are interesting: 47 percent of the total, which is what they were in 2020 BUT after Election Day. The Dem margin now among mail voters in Clark is holding steady at 49-25; it was 50-22 when all was said and done in 2020, the first massive mail ballot election here. Watch those numbers.
---The age breakdown is interesting, courtesy of Doc Samuelson. Dems need younger voters to turn out or another warning sign.
Here’s what the models show – and remember they are slightly better than this for the Rs because the rurals are not updated:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.4-47.3 1.1 percent, Dems.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 47.3-46.5, Repubs. .8 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.8-47.7, Repubs. .1 percent, Repubs. (First time this model flipped to GOP.)
---If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.7-45.8, GOP. 3.9 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.5-47.2, Repubs. 1.3 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.7-45.4 GOP. 4.3 percent, Repubs.
You see why I say this is the No Margin For Error Election in Nevada?
Update on House races:
CD 1 (Titus): 42-35, or 9,500 ballots. That’s 3 points under reg, and 32,000 indies have voted.
CD 3 (Lee): 40-35, or 6,900 ballots. That’s almost 2 points under reg, and 39,000 indies have voted.
CD4 – just Clark (Horsford): 44-34, or 12,100 ballots. That’s 3 points under reg, and 27,500 indies have voted. He’s going to lose the rural part of the district (only 15 percent) in a landslide but this margin is still decent for him.
Bottom line: This still does not feel like 2014 at all, and the numbers don’t look anything like an obvious red wave year. And even though it is somewhat comparable to 2018, the Biden-not-Trump factor helps the GOP in some tangible way, I’d guess.
It actually feels a little more like 2010 to me right now, when a wave of sorts hit, but some survived, including a guy named Reid because of his superb campaign. But need to think more on that….
It’s clear that the GOP game has improved here in the last decade and is poised to take advantage of a state where the Dem reg edge has diminished. The early voting/mail numbers are close enough where they could conceivably create a potentially deep wave starting at the top. My main question remaining — once I see the mail numbers today and Tuesday I'll have a better idea — is if the machine that Harry built can do just enough to allow some candidates to win.
I am still not sure turnout actually gets to 1 million. If it doesn’t, and I will keep an eye on that, I think Republicans will do quite well. If it does, then we are going to have a long Election Night/week — and we probably will either way.
More later if/when I have more numbers…
Updated, 11/4/22, 4:15 PM
Preparing for final in-person numbers, wondering how much mail there is and reminding everyone about:
This blog is about the only thing that really matters now in the election: math and providing context and modeling from that math. But no matter what the cheap seat denizens say, there are no simple comparisons to what is happening in the first midterm of universal mail ballots received here. I'm not flying blind, but I have no co-pilot. (Aviation metaphors are not my specialty, but leaving it.)
---No one who understands this stuff expected a big Clark Dem firewall this time. The Dems were always going to struggle to build up the kind of lead they have, even matching the 47,000. This is an ostensibly bad year for Dems, so they have had to claw their way to not being faced with another 2014. Having turnout percentages be close to the turnout percentages of 2018 may be the best they could have hoped for by now. But, as I have been saying over and over, the difference is Trump (D energizer) and Biden (R energizer). The question is how much….
The flip side is the Republicans have put themselves in a position to win races that they shouldn’t normally win. That is, this is decidedly not a red wave turnout scenario as 2014 obviously was at this time — and the Rs swept the state, as I foretold (missed a couple races). But this has the potential to be a deeper wave than is indicated now by the data if not enough mail comes in during the next week and if the Dems get crushed on Election Day — two wild cards that any comparisons are not helpful to decipher.
---So where are we on turnout? As I told you Thursday, it’s hard to extrapolate in such an unusual year with no real analogous patterns. 2020 mail processing obviously doesn’t apply, as we have seen. I told you a couple of days ago, when it was at 430,000 ballots, that I am not so sure we will get to 60 percent, which would be 1.1 million voters. If it’s just 1 million voters, that would be 54 percent.
About 530,000 ballots – probably a bit more because I am missing a few rural county updates – have been cast. That means: to get to 60 percent, another 570,000 ballots would have to come in between now and next Saturday, when mail ballots must be received to be counted (they must be postmarked by Tuesday). So 470,000 would be needed to get to 1 million voters.
I assume we will be at 600,000 or a bit more after today’s in-person and mail. If Election Day were 300,000, or a little under what it was in 2018, I think that would be a lot. That would be 16 percent turnout on Election Day, one and a half times in percentage terms what it was in 2020 and 5 points less than it was in 2018. That would mean there would have to be 100,000 mail ballots after today – that seems high – just to get to 1 million.
I don’t think we are going to get there, folks. Turnout may actually be closer to 50 percent (900,000) than 60 percent. But I’ll keep tracking it. If the postman rings seven times...
---The regional breakdowns don’t help much. Clark is only 68.5 percent of the vote, which is two and a half points below its actual percentage. But the rurals also are below their 12.2 percent by half a point. Washoe is over-performing and is 3.5 percent above its reg at 19.9 percent of the turnout.
The 21,3000-ballot lead the Repubs have in the rurals right now (especially if you extrapolate to what it translates into in votes) just about wipes out the Clark Dem firewall, so if Washoe leans one way or another, it could decide the fate of most statewide races.
I’ll keep an eye on those numbers, too. The larger the percentage of turnout Clark is, even with a more porous firewall, the better for Dems; the smaller it is, and if the rurals go up, the better for Repubs. I’d guess Washoe will be close either way – it leans Dem in turnout now, but just barely – and if it’s not, that will change everything. (Remember that Democrats Jacky Rosen and Steve Sisolak won Washoe last midterm; I am not so sure Sisolak and CCM can do the same this time.)
Reminder of turnout past four cycles and why turnout as low as 50 percent could be just what the GOP craves, all other thing be equal and they just don't seem to be in this apple year:
I’ll wait until his weekend, when the last of the in-person numbers are in, to show you where the key congressional and legislative races are.
Updated, 11/4/22, 9:30 AM
Good morning on the last day of early in-person voting in Nevada, my fellow election-devotees.
Thirteen days in the books, and the outlook changed very little in Nevada on Thursday: The Dems are in trouble, but the questions is if it is big trouble or little trouble.
The Dem statewide lead is now just 1 percent, or 5,200 ballots. At this time in 2018, it was 14,500, or 3.4 percent. A last-day surge pushed it to 23,000, or 3.7 percent. Even if there were a surge today, the lead will get nowhere near that 2018 number. Furthermore, if you extrapolate the rural numbers to what the votes will almost surely look like, it erases the Clark Dem firewall. So once again, I say it: Washoe is the decider.
But – and this is hard to predict this year when mail has been down and erratic – in 2020, which is relevant because of the mail ballot patterns that began last cycle. the Dems added more than 10 percent to their firewall before Election Day because of mail that came in Saturday and Monday. We’ll see if that happens this time. (Mail can come in and be counted for four days after Nov. 8, so long as it is postmarked on Election Day. Now the way the Post Office has been working this cycle…)
So lets’ see where we are and where we are not:
Where we are is not 2014, the last red wave year in Nevada, not even close when you look at turnout patterns:
2014 relative to turnout:
2104 relative to reg:
It will not get close to the large differentials of 2014. Dems will not have a turnout edge, but they are holding it close right now.
So is this really 2018, when Dems did well thanks to a Trump Effect, but where the GOP hopes to do well because of a Biden Effect? Just might be.
Here’s what we know:
Nothing much changed in urban Nevada on Thursday as the Dems won Clark by a net of 1,500 ballots or so (+3,900 in mail, -2,400 in in-person) and lost Washoe by a net of 400 or so (+700 in mail and -1,100 in in-person). So not much changed there, and there were relatively large turnouts in. both counties. I’d expect the same today as both parties always push on the last day.
Here's what the urban combined numbers look like:
That urban lead of just under 6 points also may be a warning sign for Dems; as I have told you, it has been 7 or 8 the last two cycles. The lower that number gets, the more the rural landslide comes into play. (See below.)
The Clark firewall is at 25,500. That’s 7 percent, or about 2.5 points below Dem registration. GOP turnout in Clark is 4.5 points above the Dems (36.9 percent to 32.4 percent). Here’s what the firewalls were in recent elections:
As you can see, this is nowhere close to the 2014 red wave year. But it's also nowhere close to 2018, and even if mail comes in and boosts the firewall by 10 percent, it still won’t be close to four years ago by Tuesday. It has been under reg before – it was only 9 percent in 2018. But the reg edge has been larger and with Republicans believing they can cut the Clark loss Tuesday to mid-to-high single digits this time, that is potentially ominous for Dems. (I think this is more likely for Joe Lombardo than Adam Laxalt, if it is likely at all.)
The Dems also don’t have quite the mail lead that they ended up with in 2020 – not in raw ballots, of course, but also in percentages. It was 50-22 in Clark in 2020, and it is 49-25 right now. Every little point may matter this cycle, so the Dems hope the postman delivers while the Repubs are probably hoping most are like Newman.
The only silver lining for the Dems in these numbers is that because they are 4.5 points behind the Rs in Clark turnout relative to registration, they have room to grow. They have 100,000 more voters left than does the GOP. But will their voters turn out on Election Day?
Election Days usually don’t have overwhelming turnout. Here’s a look at recent history:
And here’s a look at Election Day raw vote margins, with R advantage listed:
It’s really hard to know what year the Tuesday turnout will mimic, if any. It's hard to believe, even in this quirky year and based on history, that it will get past 25 percent. Democrats surely hope that because they have so many more votes outstanding, they will make up ground. Republicans believe they have many more high-propensity voters out there, so they will do well.
One data point to consider: The GOP turnout lead is 36.7 percent to 34.4 percent overall. But while it is doing best in Clark and Washoe has a 43-40 Dem edge, the GOP is losing the turnout game in nearly every rural county to the Dems. They only have large leads because they have so many voters. But if rural Rs step it up on Tuesday, that is great news for the GOP and disaster for the Ds, possibly.
Bottom line: The Dems need to hold their bases, hope for indies and crossover Rs and a robust Election Day turnout. If the Rs can do well today and not get crushed in the mail during the next few days, they will be in good shape going into Election Day. Oh, and there is the possibility of a Washoe snowstorm, which helps whom?
It’s far from over, but who would you rather be?
Here’s what the models look like – and remember a few national polls recently have shown indies breaking for the Rs in double digits (caveat: very small sample sizes in those crosstabs):
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.3-47.5 .8 percent, Dems.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 47.5-46.3, Repubs. 1.2 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.9-47.6, Repubs. .3 percent, Repubs. (First time this model flipped to GOP.)
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.9-45.7, GOP. 4.4 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.6-47.2, Repubs. 1.4 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.8-45.2 GOP. 4.6 percent, Repubs.
So the Repubs now are winning all the but one of the models, and most of them are very close. All of these races are different – for instance, the GOP is much more confident about the gov’s race than the Senate contest. Nearly all of these statewide races seem as if they could go either way, but Democrats have less margin for error because their usual pre-Election Day vote-banking has been so diminished.
This does not look like a red wave, as 2014 obviously did. That one we knew was coming long before Election Day. This time, the Dems are plugging every hole they can in the dam because the slightest crack could cause a flood. They are surviving right now, treading water (to continue the wet metaphors), and we will know by the end of today just how high the red tide is rising.
More when I have it, including how the congressional and legislative races look…
Updated, 11/3/22, 2:55 PM
A few days ago, when I checked in on those three competitive Nevada House races, the turnout was right at party registration. No longer:
CD1 (Titus): Ds+7.6 percent (Reg is Ds+10)
CD3 (Lee): Ds+5.1 percent (Reg is Ds+7)
CD4 — Clark part — (Horsford): Ds+10.1 percent (Reg is Ds+14)
You can see the erosion in all three districts. This is because of the relative lack of mail that is affecting Dems up and down the ticket.
Dems already were most worried about Susie Lee. This will, only make them more worried.
The incumbents had pretty sizable reg leads in each of the districts, which could insulate them to some extent from base bleeding and/or indie shifts to the GOP. But if the ballot counts keep shrinking…
Will keep an eye on this.
Updated, 11/3/22, 9 AM
Good morning, faithful readers.
Twelve days of early voting in the books, and I think it’s safe to say now after years of watching these numbers/trends: The Dems are in trouble in Nevada.
The reason is simple: Mail is way down in Clark County from 2020, and the numbers are just not big enough to boost the Clark firewall after the GOP wins in-person early voting every day.
Large (relatively speaking) in-person turnouts on Wednesday in both urban counties, which helped the GOP hold its own amid a still-lagging mail turnout. Clark was a combined plus 1,000 ballots for the Dems, who lost a couple of hundred ballots in Washoe. Not great, Bob!
It's far from over, but consider:
The Dems now have a 1.5 percent lead statewide, which is half of what their reg lead is in the state. It’s about 7,000 ballots out of 476,000 reported. (It’s actually slightly lower than that because I don’t have updated numbers for Douglas and Carson, two of the Big Five rurals — Lyon, Nye and Elko are the others — that make up almost 80 percent of rural registration.)
That is a thin margin for error, and if the mail doesn’t pour in, the rurals will continue to play an outsize role. The math is inexorable, folks:
Clark Dem firewall: 24,000
Rural GOP lead: 18,400
That’s only a 5,600-ballot difference.
The Clark firewall is only 7.4 percent, more than 2 points under the Dem reg lead there. It was 47,000 at the end of early voting in 2018; it’s very unlikely the Dems get even close to that by the end of tomorrow.
This is not looking much like 2018 anymore, unless it is 2018 in reverse: The Dems have a small statewide ballot lead after Friday, but the winds are blowing against the party of the president, so the Election Day trends go the other way four years later.
And remember: If the rurals are voting as they usually do, the actual vote lead there is larger for the GOP, maybe as high as 22,000 votes. So even if the firewall lead translates into a concomitant vote lead — a big IF this year — that would be only a 2,000-ballot lead for a Democratic candidate there right now.
And that would mean – drum roll, please – Washoe is the decider.
The Dems lost ground in Washoe on Wednesday — the lead there now is about 1,500 votes, or about 3 percent. That’s not a lot of margin of error, either, even if the Dem ballot lead translates into an actual vote lead, which ain’t necessarily so.
You can see now that if the Dems don’t hold their own with indies, they are going to lose unless there is substantial R base bleeding. Sure, that’s possible, but have I mentioned the margin for error?
Let me show you the models now, and you can see the gap slowly closing even in the more optimistic scenarios (although if Dems are actually winning indies, that’s a different story):
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.1-46.9. 1.2 percent, Dems.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 46.9-46.2, Repubs. .7 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.5-47.3, Dems. .2 percent, Dems.
---If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.3-45.5, GOP. 3.8 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.0-47.0, Repubs. 1 percent, Repubs.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.6-45.4 GOP. 4.2 percent, Repubs.
So the Dems are now winning in only two of the six models, and one just barely. Sure, you have to buy certain assumptions, and they are bound to be off a bit. But if they are not off any more than a bit, this election is slowly moving away from Dem candidates.
(Yes, I know some have terrible opponents and some may be able to get more crossovers. But — and this is the phrase of the day — they have no margin for error.)
I want to return to a metric I have been talking about for almost two weeks: The Dem urban lead:
The current number is actually 41.6-35.4, so closer to 6 percent and that is as big a danger sign for the Dems as anything else. If they can’t push that lead above 7 points, that will be cause for a lot of teeth-gnashing among the Dem campaigns up and down the ticket.
As for turnout, the problem for the Ds becomes evident when you see that Clark is turning out at nearly 3 percent below its actual share of state registration. The rurals are right at registration, and Washoe is about 3 points above.
Washoe.: The Decider.
Overall turnout is just under 26 percent. If you saw my turnout extrapolations, I suggested that 650,000 after Friday’s balloting would be a lot, and it looks as if that number may indeed be high. There is no reason yet to believe turnout will get much past 60 percent, which means about 43 percent of the vote is in.
Maybe the Rs are cannibalizing their vote in the early going, and Election Day will not be so GOP-friendly. But that’s a lot for the Ds to hope for at this point. And if they thought Barack Obama could change the dynamic here for the Ds, the real hope and change now lies with the GOP.
More when I have it.
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Updated, 11/2/22, 6 PM
Let us discuss the question of overall turnout and what it will be. Here is an extrapolation devoutly to be wished:
We now have 430,000 people whose ballots have been reported. That's 23 percent.
With the unpredictability of mail processing in Clark, this is not an easy task. But let's try:
Clark in-person vote has consistently been at 10-12,000 a day. Let's take the high side and say 12K a day for the next three days. That's 36K. Let's assume maybe there is a surge and say it gets to 45K. (I want to be off on the high side here.)
Clark mail was 18K Tuesday. Let's say it is the same the remaining thee days — that's 54K. Again, let's go high and say 70K.
Washoe in-person has been about 3,000-3,500 a day. Take the high side and that gets us to 10.5K over the next three days. Let's say it's actually 15K.
Washoe mail has been about 5K a day, but was 8K on Tuesday. Let's take that number and say we get 24K through Friday. And let's say, for the sake of this extrapolation, it makes it to 35K.
Finally, the rurals: A little harder to read because of incomplete data, but let's say it's 3K a day, maybe 5K. So 15K by end of Friday. Let's call it 25K.
So add up these very high projections and you get:
I think these are off a bit, but hard to believe it gets higher than this: The total is 190K on top of the 430K we have, and that is 620K. Let's go up one more time and say it ends up being 650K.
So that would mean turnout was 35 percent at the end of early voting.
I do all of this numbers-pumping to show that even if it is 35 percent, and even if significant mail pours in after Friday - and it might - that would take a turnout of 460,000 people, or 25 percent, after the end of early voting to get to 60 percent turnout. Let's say 75,000 are mail ballots that come in after Friday, which would mean 385K on Election Day to get to 60 percent.
That would be 21 percent. Possible? Sure.
Here is Election Day the last few cycles:
2020 (first year mail ballot sent to all voters): 11 percent
2018: 34 percent
2016: 31 percent
2014 (red wave year): 44 percent
This year doesn't look anything like 2014 or 2020 - at least not yet - and it is closest to 2018. So does it seem reasonable that 21 percent could turn out Tuesday? Maybe.
I just get the sense so many people are mailing it in that it will not be that high. But maybe there is a horde of Republicans just waiting for Tuesday.
My estimates on remaining early in-person turnout range from relatively conservative - 124K - to quite expansive - 220K. Let's split the difference and say it is 175K. That would be a total of 605K, or 33 percent. if 75K more mail ballots came in, making it 680K, that would mean you need 400K-plus on Election Day to get to 60 percent, or 22 percent.
I know, I know: Too many numbers, give you the bottom line!
All of this simply illuminates how important Election Day turnout could be this time in deciding races, as could the number of mail ballots that come in AFTER Nov. 8. (Ugh)
I still think 60 percent is a good educated guess. But I will track this every day and possibly revise the estimates above.
It's hard to understand for people wanting certainty and twits and partisans on Twitter tendentiously misreading, but we just don't have enough data yet. But we can have fun with numbers, can't we?
We will soon, I hope...
Updated, 11/2/22, 11:30 AM
A few items for you, dear readers:
Here's what the rural vote looks like now, with a few counties not all the way updated -- the projected vote lead is if the county votes as it did with Trump (indies in the rurals heavily lean R):
It's not unreasonable to believe that some Dem statewide candidates will be losing by 30,000 votes in the rurals -- maybe 35,000 -- before Election Day. That's a substantial lead for the GOP, although it makes the idea of getting to a 50,000-vote advantage after Election Day -- that's what Adam Laxalt had in 2018 -- less likely. Possible, though.
Let's say it's only 40,000, though. That would mean, assuming Washoe is a wash (and it may not be), a Dem would need to win Clark by 40,000 votes to have a chance. That won't be easy, unless the turnout really picks up.
You get the point: The higher turnout is in the rurals, and the lower it is in Clark, the better chance the GOP has to create a wave. That's how the 2014 red wave happened. This ain't 2014, but if it's between 2014 and 2018...
--Here's the latest from the models, and I still have no new Clark mail:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.3-46.7, Dems. 1.6 points.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 46.7-46.3, Repubs. .4 points.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.7-47.1, Dems. .6 points.
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.1-45.7, GOP. 3.4 points.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 47.8-47.2, Repubs. .6 points.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.5-45.6 GOP. 3.9 points.
--The Repubs now have a statewide 1.4 percent advantage in turnout -- 29.4 percent to 28.2 percent. That's not that unusual, but if it gets closer to 3 percent, that could be meaningful. This is why the Dem red edge is so important and why the fact that it is 2 points lower than previous cycles could be important.
More when I have it...
Updated, 11/2/22, 8:45 AM
Good morning, fellow data geeks.
Eleven days complete, three days of in-person voting left, and where are we?
Caveat that no Clark mail was processed overnight, but:
Rs gained 2,000 in Clark and lost 300 in Washoe for a net urban gain of 1,700. The urban numbers are now 41.9 percent Dems and 35.3 percent Rs, a 6.6 percent margin, which, as I have told you, is below what it was the last two cycles when all was said and done. (I think Dems need that to be 7 or 8 points to feel comfortable.)
Yes, more mail to come, but how much and what will it do?
Clark firewall is at just under 23,000 ballots, or 7.8 percent, which is almost two points under registration. The Dem statewide lead is only 1.9 percent, or about a point under reg. Sure there's no new mail, but under 2 percent! Damn.
In 2018 at this time, the Clark firewall was 33,000 or 10,000 ballots more than it is now. It was almost 10 percent, or two points more than it is now. Absent some huge mail influx, that 7.8 percentage point lead won’t change much — and it is a real danger sign for statewide Dems.
I have new rural numbers and they are ugly for the Dems and beautiful for the Rs: The lead there (and I am missing some county updates) is close to 17,000 ballots. Compare that to the Clark firewall and realize that the top Ds are probably losing there by 20,000 votes right now, and you see the problem.
If I were the Dems right now, I’d be wary and pray for mail. If I am the Repubs, I’d feel pretty good, especially if you believe Election Day will be in their favor.
Those same two wild cards that have always been key to this election — mail turnout in Clark and Election Day turnout — make this a bit unpredictable. As I said, it seems highly unlikely the Dems have the kind of raw-vote Clark firewall they have had in the past few cycles, although the statewide comparison to 2018 is not so great right now for Dems:
2018: Statewide lead after 11 days was 12,252, or 41.3 to 38.9 percent, Dems. 2.4 points.
2022: Statewide lead after 11 days is 8,300, or 39.7 to 37.8, Dems. 1.9 points.
Considering the actual statewide reg lead in 2018 was just under 5 percent, that 11-day lead was potentially ominous for the Dems. They ended up winning both the gov snd Senate races that year.
But – again I say BUT — that was Trump, and this is Biden. The winds seem to be blowing in the other direction for the Dems this cycle, and the question is if the machine that Harry built can withstand those headwinds.
The only 2020 comparison that makes any sense is the mail voting, and it is not only well down (of course), but the Dems are not hitting their percentages in Clark. Overall, they won mail ballots in Clark, 50-22; right now it is 49-25. Mail was 47 percent of the election total. in 2020; it is now at 56 percent (that will fall a lot after Election Day.)
One other data point of note: According to the SOS, the Dems gained more than 2,000 registered voters on the GOP last month, which may not seem like a lot but in these close races, up and down the ballot, could make a difference. The statewide Dem lead is now 52,340.
My old mantra: Demographics are not destiny, but they… matter.
Overall turnout is about 430,000, or about 24 percent. I’ll say it again: It will take a large surge in voting for this to get past 2018’s 62 percent. I still believe 1 million voters — 1.1 million max — is a good guess.
Can Washoe save the Dems again?
Remember Adam Laxalt and Dean Heller lost Washoe four years ago. Not sure Steve Sisolak and Catherine Cortez Masto can pull off those same Washoe numbers in this climate.
One reason Washoe may be even more critical this year is if, as is possible, Sisolak and CCM lose the rurals by 50,000 votes. The Clark firewall will not offset that this cycle. The 50K may be a worst-case scenario, but especially for Sisolak, who only got 27 percent there when he first ran, it is a real possibility. I can forecast the rural margins with some certainty, but gauging what kind of crossover voting may be happening and how indies are voting is a different story.
Without any new Clark mail, the models shift toward the GOP, including in those three competitive House seats where the Dem leads are now under the reg margins. I will wait to see if any mail gets processed later today for more accurate modeling.
If there is any impact of the Obama visit last night, we should see most of it today. Not sure it will change much, but we shall see.
More when I have it...
Updated, 11/1/22, 3:15 PM
A rare midday mail dump (is that apparition I see before me Harry Reid wearing a postman's garb? I kid, conspiracy theorists, I downloaded the file myself).
18,191 ballots, big boost for Dems:
D — 8,689 (47.8 percent)
R — 4,482 ( 24.6 percent)
O — 5,020 ( 27.6 percent)
Usual 2 to 1 margin, so volume of mail is what counts now. Gain of 4,207 for Dems.
Clark firewall now at 25,000, or just under 9 percent. Still below registration for Dems, but only by half a point. Statewide lead is now at 3.1 percent, or 12,500 ballots, which is slightly above registration, so a little breathing room for D incumbents, who surely cannot feel safe with that margin but perhaps can stop sweating so profusely. Repubs were unloading their confetti earlier today, now must put it away for a time.
Looks more like 2018 again in the turnout and firewall, but still think this year is sui generis. More than 400,000 out of 1.8 million active voters have cast ballots as of this tally, or 22 percent. I think 40 percent of the ballots that will be cast in 2022 here have been cast.
Big question nobody knows the answer to yet: Will there be another mail dump tonight? Only Harry's ghost knows...
Updated, 11/1/22, 10:45 AM
Good morning, all, and welcome to November and one week to go.
Ten days in the books, and here is where we are: It may be time for the Dems to start worrying. Or worrying more, perhaps.
Not panic button time, but the numbers have to be concerning because the Clark firewall did not move much from Monday — it’s still at 21,000 or so. That’s less than 8 percent. (The mail volume is just not there for the Dems to really build a lead.)
Let me put it this way: If statewide Dem candidates win Clark by 8 percent or less, we are going to see a lot of red people.
As you will see from the models below, if both sides are holding their bases, even if the Repubs win indies by 10, the GOP candidate would be barely ahead. So all is not lost for the Dems quite yet. But – BUT – there are four days to go, and if the Repubs win Election Day…
Consider the math, which is what this blog is all about:
With rural numbers I just added – I have most but not all – the GOP lead in those 15 counties is more than 14,000 ballots. Using voting patterns in 2020 and 2018, that means the Dem candidates are likely losing by more than 18,000 votes there right now.
That means the 21,000 ballot Clark Dem firewall is pretty precarious, even if that translates into a 21,000-vote lead right now, which is by no means certain. That could make Washoe the decider — again, still. Dems still lead there, but not by much (1,700 votes) after the Repubs had their best day on Monday.
Yes, this is not a presidential year, and there may be more crossover. But those numbers still have to excite Repubs and worry Dems.
Sure, it’s possible that voters will see down-ticket that some of the GOP candidates are unqualified and/or unhinged and Dems could still win. But these numbers are not good for Dem incumbents at the top of the ticket.
There are four days left of early voting, but turnout clearly is going to be way down — maybe the volume of ads this time really turned people off in greater numbers than usual. About 382,000 people have voted already, or about 21 percent.
I would not be surprised if turnout did not get to 60 percent. If 1 million voters turn out, that may be a lot. If it is 1 million, that means close to 40 percent of the vote already is in.
The only way for Dems to survive, unless something dramatically changes, is for indies to go their way – in a midterm with an unpopular Dem president! – and for crossover votes to occur at a greater rate than usual.
Doubtful? Well, Dobbsful?
Remember, the Dems still have a lead in Clark and statewide, but the latter edge is now 8,300 ballots, or 2.2 percent, about a half point under the Dem reg lead.
If this is more like 2018 than any other year – and it still seems as if it is the closest comparison – the firewall at this time in 2018 was 28,000 ballots, but there were 300,000 fewer voters in Clark back then. The Dem ballot lead was just under 10 points four years ago at this time. The firewall got to 47,000 by the end. Seems highly unlikely that will happen his time.
So the next four days will be critical in determining just how dire this could get for the Dem incumbents: The Dems usually surge at the end of the week and increase their lead. Usually. But this is an unusual year, and all the signs are pointing to a good GOP result.
The R turnout is Clark so far is 26.7 percent; the D turnout is 23.9 percent. That is a telling stat. It's 26.2-25.3 percent statewide, so almost a point.
Here’s what the models show now:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.5-46.7.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 46.7-46.5, Repubs. (First time Repubs have won in this scenario)
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.9-47.1, Dems.
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.1-45.9, GOP.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 47.8-47.4, Repubs.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.4-45.6 GOP.
Maybe this is all a mirage, and Obama can save them.
More when I have it...
Updated, 10/31/22, 5:30 PM
Update on the three important House races:
CD 1 (Titus) : 43-33, Ds, or 7,600 ballots. Reg is 10-point D lead so right at reg.
CD 3 -- (Lee): 41-35, Ds, or 5,300 ballots. Reg is 6t-point D lead, so right at reg.
CD 4 -- Clark part -- (Horsford): 46-33, Ds, or 9,000 ballots. Reg is 13-point D lead, so right at reg.
So Ds are holding their reg in all of these districts so far. Rs would need to be winning indies pretty big or getting a lot of crossovers to be ahead.
One more data point: Clark mail is 58 percent of all ballots right now -- that is falling but well above the 47 percent it was of total votes in 2020. Remember, though, that will be significantly reduced by Election Day.
Updated, 10/31/22, 9 AM
Happy Nevada Day, all who celebrate!
Sunday was a slow day in urban Nevada, with the pattern of the GOP winning in-person and the Dems winning mail holding, but with many fewer ballots counted — i.e. it essentially was a wash. The Clark firewall is at 21,000, the Washoe Dem lead is 1,800 and the statewide Dem edge is 10,400, or 3 percent.
I don’t have rural numbers yet – usually not much to count there on Sundays – but will add when I do. I’d guess that they will push the statewide lead close to the actual Dem reg edge of 2.7 percent.
(By the way, we should have updated reg figures from the SOS by Tuesday, so these numbers may move a tick or two.)
Turnout remains quite low — it’s just below 19 percent without the rural numbers, and it does not appear that it will get much above 60 percent. That means a third of the vote is in.
Caveats, of course, are we still have five days left of early voting and, most importantly, we don’t know what Election Day will look like. I have said this is an apple year to previous oranges, so maybe there will be huge turnout for the GOP on Nov. 8, something we have not seen in recent cycles (although they won by 16,000 ballots in 2020).
Bottom line: We are about where we were in the last midterm – specifics below – but the difference for Dems is they had Donald Trump as a motivator and did well and this time the Rs have Joe Biden as a motivator. The Dems cannot feel warm and fuzzy with a statewide lead under 3 percent. As James Carville might have said: It’s the indies, stupid.
The Rs still don’t have much of a turnout edge – 23.7 percent to 23.3 percent – and that is why the Dems have maintained their lead in the state. But the Dem reg lead is significantly lower — down from 5 or 6 percent the last few cycles.
---Clark: The firewall didn’t move much on Sunday — Rs plus 1,037 in in-person and Ds plus 1,320 in mail. The total vote in each category was the lowest so far — 10,218 people voted in person and 5,399 by mail (this is surely a Sunday processing issue with no mail received).
The firewall is at 8.7 percent, which is nearly a point below the Dem reg edge. That is a danger sign, but it actually is comparable to 2018 at this time. Here’s what I wrote on this blog four years ago at this time:
The Clark lead is 10 percentage points, or 3 points below the Dems registration edge in the South. That's quite good for a midterm — in a presidential year, it usually gets to the registration advantage. (Reminder: In 2014, the GOP had a raw-vote lead in Clark at the end; in 2010, the firewall was 25,000 votes.)
In case you don’t know or don’t remember, 2014 was the year of the red wave in Nevada, and 2010 was when Harry Reid held onto his Senate seat against all odds — and against all public polling.
The difference in 2022 is the Dem reg edge in Clark is already below 10 percent, which is the margin a Dem statewide needs to win Clark with to feel comfortable. Biden won Nevada by just under 10 but did so because Dems won Washoe and there were not enough rural votes. So Dems really need Clark indies to split evenly or break their way or it’s sayonara. And they need Washoe, too.
In case you are interested, the Clark margin in 2020 at this time was 14 percent, or 3 points above reg. But 43 percent had already voted by now. So I am not sure the comparison has much utility.
One last data point for Clark: The Dems had a big weekend in 2018, and even though I don’t think day to day comparisons mean that much, they then slowed at the beginning of the week and surged at the end of the second week of early voting. Worth keeping an eye on.
---Washoe: Only 2,209 people early voted in person here on Sunday, the lowest so far. Rs won by about 250 and Dems won by about 200 in a small mail tally (700). So status quo, and the small Dem lead holds. It’s about 3 percent in a county where the GOP has a 1.5 percent lead. If Dems hold their own in Washoe, they could hold on in some races.
---Rurals: No numbers yet, but I pulled some from the last two cycles to show you how consistent they have been:
Biden: 53,506 (30 percent)
Trump: 122,200 (68 percent)
Others: 5,018 (2 percent)
Laxalt: 86,878 (66 percent)
Sisolak: 35,509 (27 percent)
Others: 9,840 (7 percent)
So Adam Laxalt actually won the rurals by one more point than Trump – don’t tell the former president! – and those margins are huge. We can expect the top Repubs to win the rurals by almost 40 points, and if turnout is comparable to 2018, that would mean a 50K lead. The only question is if Joe Lombardo can hold the base the way Laxalt almost surely will. And if either don’t, that could change the dynamic.
If either Stave Sisolak or Catherine Cortez Masto lose the rurals by 50,000 votes – hardly out of the question – it’s going to be a long night Nov. 8.
The Dem lead in urban Nevada is now at 7.5 points. As I have told you, it has been at least 7 points overall the last two cycles after all the voting was done. Assuming it will shrink a bit on Election Day – unless the Dems do better than expected on Nov. 8 – this is not a comfortable margin right now.
Here's what the models say based on the vote so far (minus those rurals):
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.9-46.4.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 46.9-46.4, Dems.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 48.2-46.8, Dems.
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 48.8-46.2, GOP.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 47.8-47.5, Dems.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.1-45.9 GOP.
So very little change in the models.
One note: The NYT poll released today has Laxalt up by 8 among indies. That race is CLOSE. (It also shows CCM up by only 8 points among Hispanics, which seems unlikely, but if true will be fatal for her.)
Dems hoping mail pours in this week and Obama juices their vote. Repubs just hoping the current pattern holds.
More when I have it…
Updated, 10/30/22, 12:15 PM
A few more data points for your enjoyment:
--So far, the Rs have a slight turnout advantage: 22.4 percent to 22.1 percent. That's not much, and a good sign for the Dems. But it's almost 2 points in Clark and it's 3 points in Washoe, which means the rural turnout so far favors the Dems. (Rs are so far ahead in ballots because they have so many more voters.) I doubt that can last. Something to keep an eye on.
--The Dems are ahead 40-37 in turnout as a percent of total voters who have cast ballots. We recently completed a poll -- results coming Monday in The Indy -- and we used the same split we used in our previous one a month or so ago: 36 percent Ds, 36 percent Rs and 28 percent others. That's a favorable model for the GOP, I think. In our poll, indies slightly tilted toward the Rs at the top of the ticket. If the poll is correct -- and I pay more attention to real votes now -- then the races are very close. The overall point holds: If Rs can win indies by double digits, that's big trouble for Dems; anything less and it's a toss-up.
--One thing to watch, too: Indie turnout so far is only 11 percent, half of the majors, lending credence to my theory that the explosion of new reg voters in that cohort is not at all reflective of their propensity to vote. (So many were auto-registered at the DMV). They are still 22.5 percent of the electorate, which is significant, but the smaller they are as a percentage of turnout, the less impact they have.
-- Some Clark firewall history to show what it means:
In 2020, the final firewall was 87,000 ballots. Joe Biden won Clark by 91,000 votes. So pretty predictive.
In 2018, the final firewall was 47,000 ballots. Jacky Rosen won Clark by 96,000 votes; Steve Sisolak won Clark by 86,000 votes. So in that midterm, the top of the ticket doubled the firewall margin. That means that indies surely went for the Dems, although Dems also won Election Day. Unlikely this time on either account, but that is what happened during the last midterm.
Time to mentally prepare for the Bills game...
Updated, 10/30/22, 10 AM
Good morning from the best state of all, everyone.
We now have eight days in the books, and we know some things and can forecast some others. Headline: Dems are ahead, but they better hope this is 2018 redux because the trends do not favor them right now.
---About 331,000 voters have cast ballots so far, or 18 percent. The Dems have a 3.1 percent statewide lead — I don’t have all the new rural numbers but I have some, so let’s call it 3 percent. The actual Democratic registration lead is just under 3 percent, so the lead is about at registration.
The ballot lead is about 10,000, so the margin for error is steadily decreasing for the Dems, which should make the GOP happy. If you take into account that the actual rural vote lead is 50 percent higher than the ballot lead – that would be following Trump’s pattern in 2020, a best-case for GOP – then the Dems need indies in urban Nevada to be evenly divided or go their way or some (many?) of their candidates will lose. It’s really that simple, unless there is massive base hemorrhaging on either side.
Here are the current numbers (best available data, with some rurals missing):
Clark: Dems +21,000
Washoe: Dems +1,800
Rurals: Rs +12,500 (probably closer to +13,000)
---Before I get into specifics in the three areas, let’s talk about comparisons. 2020 is a bad year to use to compare raw numbers because it was a presidential year and turnout was much higher than what 2022 will be (or so it seems). My guess right now is about a third of the vote is in, maybe slightly less.
BUT, 2020 is a good year for comparisons in one area because of the voting patterns, which were dramatically altered by every active voter being mailed a ballot. Dems won mail balloting by 50-22 in Clark in 2020; it now stands at 49-25. So it’s slightly behind, and that may matter. It has been almost the same percentage every day. In 2020, Repubs won early voting in Clark, 42-34; it is now 47-34, again not insignificant. So both of the metrics – mail and in-person – are better by percentage in 2022 compared to final numbers in 2020. The mix of mail and early in-person – 47 percent to 42 percent when all was said in done two years ago – is holding at 62-38, which could help the Dems.
If you want to compare to the last midterm, 2018, the numbers are not that different. The Dems actually only had about a 2 percent statewide lead (only 8,000 ballots) at this time in 2018, when they did quite well. So if you do midterm to midterm, Dems are holding their own. I am not sure this comparison is germane, considering the change in voting patterns and the D emphasis on mail, but in 2018, the second weekend of early voting was a surge for them. Does not appear it will be this time. Also, in 2018, the Ds benefited from a very unpopular Republican president; in 2022, Republicans surely will be helped by an unpopular Dem POTUS. The only questions is how much.
Bottom line: The Dems may be holding their own, with a statewide lead just above their registration edge. But the trends are not what they have been, and the GOP has good reason for optimism with six days to go.
---Clark: Saturday was not a good day for Dems by any metric — they won mail by 3,000 but lost in-person by 2,200. That’s not much of a net, and the real problem was that mail and in-person were about the same, or 13,000 each. Maybe that’s a weekend aberration, but worth keeping an eye on as the week goes on. The Clark firewall is now at 21,000, or 9.3 percent. That is BELOW the Dems 9.6 percent registration lead and quite the warning sign. In 2020, it was 4 points over reg at this time; in 2018, the raw firewall (22,000) was about the same and so was the percentage (9 percent). As I said, the Dems better hope this is 2018 again.
---Washoe: This is harder to figure, as the Dems continue to net ballots every day. They now have an 1,800-ballot lead in a county where the GOP has a slight reg advantage. It may be that breaking even in Washoe will be enough to save the Dems this time, although there is no guarantee that will happen. But even this small lead – 3 percent – is something that could augur well for them.
The combined urban lead – 43-35 – is in line with the past two cycles when all the votes were counted, which is why Election Day will be critical.
---Rurals: I don’t have all the numbers, as I told you, but it’s clear that the cow counties are going to provide the Rs with a sizable ballot advantage again. This is the one area where I can predict what the indies will do with more certainty, and so I can say that a 13,000-ballot lead probably means a 16,000-17,000 vote lead, if the 15 counties are performing close to the Trump percentages. We won’t know for sure what the rural numbers are until the end of the week when the SOS posts again, but if statewide turnout is down overall, that lead will matter more. Rural turnout is also above it’s registration in the state while Washoe is up and Clark is down:
Clark: 68.6 percent (actual is 71.4 percent)
Washoe: 18.0 (16.4)
Rurals: 13.4 (12)
If races are close, these small changes could matter.
Here is what the models look like now:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.9-46.3.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 46.9-46.3, Dems.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 48.2-46.8, Dems.
---If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 48.8-46.2, GOP.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.2-46.8, Dems.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.1-45.9 GOP.
Every model has moved slightly towards the GOP. (I purposely don't show models for Ds winning among indies because if that happens, they will obviously be able to hold on if they have a statewide lead. I may add those when the early voting period is over.)
It is becoming more and more clear that if Dems don’t get their base out (hence, the Obama visit this week) and hold it, Repubs will win the close races. It is very doubtful that indies will swing toward the Dems overall, but if they don’t minimize the loss margins, if any, in urban Nevada, it’s game over.
My only caveat to this math is that candidates matter, so some of the really bad GOP ones could still lose down the ticket even if a wave begins at the top. But if the wave is big enough…
More when I have it.
Updated, 10/29/22, 5:15 PM
Deeper dive into SOS numbers just posted:
Douglas, the second largest rural county by voters, had a huge turnout that I did not have -- 8,000 voters and 2 to 1 R. That added 2,000 ballots to the R lead in the rurals and made the projected lead with Trump margins up to 15,000 so far in the rurals.
If that projection is correct, the Dem statewide lead is only 6,500, or 2.1 percent; the actual lead with the rural numbers is 3.3 percent, still slightly above the Dem reg lead of 2.7 percent.
Remember, we don't know how many ticket-splitters at the top there are this time, and we don't know how pervasive tribalism will be down the ticket. We also don't know how the indies will break, which is the key to everything. If they are going single digits for the GOP, some Dems could hang on. But if they are double digits, I see a lot of red people.
Turnout is 16 percent, which would be 23 percent of the total if it ultimately is 70 percent, 27 percent if it is 60 percent and 33 percent if it is 50 percent.
Same caveats apply -- it's early, we don't know what pattern Week 2 will follow, Election Day remains a mystery.
But it is CLOSE.
Updated, 10/29/22, 4 PM
Nearly 300K ballots, about 12K more than I had. (Unaudited totals, some counties slower than others, so caveat.)
Dem statewide lead is about what I told you: 9K. Looks like they have more rurals, so the statewide lead is reduced a bit.
Will dive in deep when I can.
Updated, 10/29/22, 2 PM
I finished plugging in all of the rural numbers I have and then extrapolated them with the Trump 2020 margins in each county -- a best-case for the GOP, I think -- and the statewide lead for the Ds shrinks to 8,700, or 3.1 percent. That's slightly above the D registration edge in Nevada, but considering the GOP is likely to win Election Day, that is way too close for comfort for the Ds and reason for optimism among Rs. Adam Laxalt, Joe Lombardo & Co. may not have Trumpian margins in. the rurals, but they could come close.
For context, this is why the registration edge for the Dems, which has shrunk to under 3 percent from more than 5 percent the last two cycles, comes into play. The current lead also shows how vulnerable they are to indies, which will be about a fifth of the electorate, tilting to the GOP.
We still have a week to go in early voting, but the Ds have their work cut out to build up that lead. Sure, the just under 3 percent reg edge means they can suffer some bleeding, assuming they are holding their base, but not much. And the rurals could be decisive this time in a way they have not been before.
The Dems still have an 8.5 percent lead in urban Nevada, above what it has been after all is said and done in the last two cycles. But if that starts to shrink, that could be a canary in the coal mine. for a good GOP year.
I tallied up the three House districts in play, and here's the latest:
CD1 (Titus) -- 44-33., Ds, or 6,600 ballots. Just above reg margin of 10 points.
CD3 (Lee) -- 42-35, Dems, or 5,220 ballots. Just above the reg margin of 6 points.
CD4 (Horsford) -- 46-33, Ds. This is just the Clark part, or 85 percent of the district, where Ds have a 13.5 reg lead, so this is just below reg.
Bottom line: More than a fifth of the electorate in these races is indie, so they could move these numbers if they are going big for the Rs. But if they are not, all the Ds look pretty good after a week.
More when I have it...
Updated, 10/29/22, 10:45 AM
Good morning from The We Matter State.
Seven days, or one week of early voting, in the books, and what do we know?
I still think the turnout looks a lot like 2018 and may overall be much closer to 60 percent (it was 62 percent in 2018) than the 65-70 percent I originally thought. There are no obvious signs of a wave – either way! – and both sides will find nuggets to feel good. The turnout patterns have become clear the last few days in both urban counties, with Dems winning mail by a lot and Rs winning in-person by a lot (although the volume of in-person is much lower).
Here are the Clark in-person numbers for the week:
And here are the mail numbers:
Here are some data points to consider after a week:
---About 284,000 ballots have been tallied and posted — it’s a little more than that because I don’t have complete rural numbers yet (but I have most of them now!). That’s 15.4 percent of active voters, and probably about a quarter of the total turnout. The Democrats have a 41.0 percent to 36.4 percent lead in ballots (slightly smaller once we put in outstanding rurals), which is 4.6 points or almost 2 points above their statewide reg lead.
---The Clark Dem firewall is at 20,000 ballots; it was at 17,500 in 2018. In both cases, that is about 10 percent of total ballots cast. (In 2020, it was 16 percent, but that was a presidential year.) So if I am right that this looks like 2018, it is very parallel. But remember: 2018 was a midterm with an unpopular GOP president and Ds did well (thanks Trump); 2022 is a midterm with an unpopular Dem president, so GOP may be happy to be on the same pace in Clark.
---The Dems are slightly above reg in Clark – 9.9 percent to 9.6 percent. But that surely will drop below reg after Election Day, unless Repubs don’t turn out on the 8th. Mail volume is well down, as I have been telling you, but so is EV. The Dem mail ballot lead is 49.5 percent to 25.1 percent, which is still below the 50-22 they ended up with in 2020. Repubs are about 5 percent above their EV lead from 2020. So the GOP continues to do well in the percentages in both categories relative to 2020, but the ratio of mail to EV, which ended up 47-42 in 2020, is still much higher: 62-38. That obviously will go down from Election Day numbers, whatever they end up being…
---In Washoe, where the Dems have a slight lead (1,500 ballots), the pattern is similar to Clark but not quite so dramatic. Dems are winning mail, 46-30, while Washoe is winning EV by 49-34. The mix of the two methods is similar to Clark, 58-42. Dems have to be happy that they are winning in a county where the Rs have a 1.5 percent reg edge, but Washoe remains close and is the swing county.
---I now have about 31,500 ballots tallied in the rurals, and the results are about what you would expect: The Rs are winning more than 2 to 1. It’s 52.4 percent to 25.3 percent and I have every county but Lander and incomplete numbers for Douglas. The R ballot lead is about 8,500 ballots, but it’s probably at least 11,000 if you extrapolate how indies generally lean there.
So: If that 11,000 figure is correct, then the Dem statewide ballot lead is actually about 10,500 out of 284,000 cast, or about 3.7 percent. Can’t say the Dems can feel comfortable with that lead, considering we don’t know how indies will vote and with the GOP sure to win Election Day (right?). It’s slightly above their reg lead.
Here is what the models look like on those 284,000 ballots:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 49.5-45.7.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 47.5-45.7, Dems.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 48.9-46.1, Dems.
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 48.2-46.8, GOP.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.4-46.8, Dems.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 48.6-46.4, GOP.
All of these numbers have gotten better for the GOP since I last modeled because of the addition of the rural numbers. If the Dems are losing bits of their base to the GOP or None of the Above, it’s probably game over. It’s harder to tell in a non-presidential year because of ticket-splitters and tribalism is not quite as easy to predict.
But smart Dems have said to me all along that if they don’t turn out their base – as they did in 2018 – they are going to be wave-vulnerable. It doesn’t look like that yet, but we have mails to go…
I always hear talk about this time about Ds cannibalizing their vote and the Rs saving their high-propensity voters for Election Day. That may well be true, but it has rarely happened in the past that Election Day has overcome whatever the two-week period indicated. It was only 11 percent of the vote in 2020 and it is usually only about a third of the vote. (Dems won Election Day in 2018, but again, Trump was president.) Could this year be different?
Bottom line: I think the Dems have reason to be happy because these do not look at all like red wave numbers after a week. But Repubs also must be content that after a week, the mail is not as voluminous as 2020 and the Dem margins also are not as great. That is: It’s close.
More later, maybe — hey, it’s Saturday and I can at least pretend to have a life! (Hoping SOS posts one-week totals later.)
Please check me on my numbers and donate if you can. The more the better! Thanks.
Updated, 10/28/22, 1 PM
Good news, folks: I have obtained a significant number of rural returns - about 22,000 in all - and mostly from the six rural counties that make up 85 percent of the vote in the cow counties: Lyon, Douglas, Carson, Nye, Elko and Churchill. Some of the data comes from TargetEarly, but most of them I have managed to extract from the SOS (I have my ways).
Here's what it shows — and longtime readers know rural data is almost always incomplete at this point :
Rs have a nearly 5,000-ballot lead, or 50 percent to 23 percent. But it's likely much more than that because indies in the rurals always tilt right.
So here's what I did: I took the Trump 2020 margins in those counties - this is probably a best-case scenario for Republican candidates who are not Donald Trump! - and extrapolated. For instance, Trump won Lyon County, the largest rural, 69 percent to 28 percent. The numbers in Lyon now show 51-27. So extrapolating to Trump margin increases the ballot lead there from 1,400 to 2,500.
Overall, the extrapolation increases the rural ballot lead to 8,000, or a 36 percent edge. That ain't nothing. But it's surely not enough to offset the 19,300 statewide ballot lead the Dems have in urban Nevada, even if there is a lot of crossover bleeding.
We won't know the full rural turnout until Saturday when (pray with me) the SOS posts results, and we can see if it is outpacing urban turnout, as it usually does. But this gives you a sense of where it is after 22,000 votes, which is 10 percent of registered rural voters. More modeling and extrapolations to come!
Updated. 10/28/22, 8 AM
Good morning and Happy Faux Nevada Day — it’s really Monday, but everyone gets the day off today (don’t get me started):
Six days in the books, and it’s beginning to look a lot like 2018. No, I don’t mean that Dems will win gubernatorial and Senate races, as they did relatively easily in the last midterm — way too early to tell on those two. But the turnout is looking much more like 2018 than the 80 percent or so of 2020 that we originally thought it might be. Sure, eight days of early voting to go, and Election Day turnout remains a mystery. But it looks a lot like four years ago.
Consider: After six days in 2018, Clark turnout was just under 15 percent; this year it is just above 13 percent. Overall in 2018, Clark turnout was 60 percent; state turnout was 62 percent.
I am still of the belief that 2022 is an apple with only oranges to compare it to, and we have mails to go before we sleep. (Yes, that is the line that never stops giving.)
Here’s where we are:
---Clark: The pattern has settled in here with GOP winning in-person by 1.5 to 1 every day. (It was 5,427—3,593 on Thursday.) The Repubs now have a 47 percent to 34 percent lead in in-person in the South, or 8,200 ballots. For perspective, in 2020, the first cycle GOP dominated in-person because of the advent of universal mail ballots, when all was said and done, the GOP won in-person by 8 points. So the percentage is significantly up this cycle for the GOP there.
On the mail front, Dems in Clark now have a 26,200 ballot lead, or 49-25. (It was 13,721-7,222 on Thursday, and 28,000 ballots tallied, up over the previous two days and not far from double Tuesday’s.) There are 108,000 mail ballots compared to 65,000 in-person, but the Dem margin in 2020 overall was 50-22 when all was said and done. So the trend in 2022 in percentage terms favors the GOP in in-person and mail. But the mail volume, if it keeps going up, will change everything in the Dems favor.
Raw votes matter, too. And the Dems now have built a 18,000-plus firewall in Clark, which compares favorably to the 15,000 at the same time in 2018. The overall firewall got to 47,000 four years ago and Jacky Rosen became a U.S. senator and Steve Sisolak became governor. It looks as if the Dems will get to the 2018 firewall, but will it be enough this cycle?
(Repeats that 2022 is an apple and all others are oranges.)
The Dems are also overperforming their reg numbers in Clark by almost a point — 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent. But their lead in Clark also dropped below 10 percent in registration or the first time in decades this year.
Bottom line: You hate to hear it, but it’s too early. Both parties have data points to pluck and smile about. But the wild cards remain: How much mail is coming, and will the percentage gaps continue to close for the GOP, as they have the last three days? And what about Election Day turnout, which the GOP almost surely will win? Nobody knows nuthin’ there.
---Washoe: The Dems continue to do well in the other urban county, winning every day in the overall vote where the Republicans have a slight reg lead — GOP wins early in-person, Dems win mail. Full report here. The lead there is now 1,300 ballots, or 41-38. It’s worth noting that the GOP margin in the in-person tally continues to grow and Repubs went over 50 percent Thursday while Dems only took a third of in-person. Similarly, the Dem mail advantage in percentage terms has been falling, down to 16 points on Thursday. But that’s still significant, and there are 25,000 mail ballots counted compared to 18,000 in-person. Washoe turnout is quite low compared to 2020 – 14.5 percent compared to 37 percent – and that could be a factor if it holds.
Still not much to talk about from the rurals, but SOS is supposed to post data by tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
The biggest wild card remains the non-major party voters, who are 23 percent of the urban turnout so far. If they are tilting toward the Repubs, as many polls show, these races are going to be close. But if they are heavily going for the Repubs, as some polls show, it’s carnage time for the Dems.
One other factor to consider: Midterms can be different. Harder to predict ticket-splitters when the top race is not for president. Even if Dems have a ballot lead, are there Lombardo-CCM voters? Or is crossover going the other way because of Dobbs? Makes it harder to predict.
I still think a metric to watch is the Dem lead in urban Nevada compared to the final numbers of the last two cycles when it was 40-33 (2020) and 42-34 (2018). It’s 43-34 right now, which has to give Dems some optimism.
Considering the possibility for high rural turnout and landslides there, and considering the possibility of a big Election Day turnout for the GOP, if the Dems don’t keep that number up, that’s a dangerous sign. Election Day was only 11 percent of the total in 2020 and the GOP won by 10 (!) points and netted 16,000 ballots. What if it doubles this time?
I am sure the Dems are hoping for a big, Culinary union-fueled weekend to boost their numbers. If not….
Remember these numbers for future reference:
In 2020, in Clark, the final mail/in-person EV ratio was 47 percent to 42 percent. Right now, it is 63-37. Will it stay that high? If it does, that could be big trouble for the GOP, even if the Repubs lose by less in percentage terms.
I’ll be happier with one week in the books after today’s numbers and ecstatic when the SOS posts all the rurals. This is what makes me joyful this time of year — more numbers.
Hey, this is the life I have chosen.
More when I have it.
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Updated, 10/27/22. 4 PM
Don't want to give short shrift to the three Dem House seats that could all flip, hence all that money being spent here on both sides. Here's what it looks like so far:
CD1 (Dina Titus): 9.8 percent turnout so far, Dems with a 44 percent to 34 percent lead, or 4,300 ballots out of 43,300 cast. The Dems have a 10 percent reg edge in the district, so right at registration.
CD3 (Susie Lee): 10.9 percent turnout, Dems with a 6 percent lead, 41-35, or 3.400 ballots out of 50,900. The Dems have a 6 percent edge there, so right at reg.
CD4 (Horsford): In the Clark part of the district, which is 85 percent of the vote or so, there is 9.3 percent turnout. Dems lead, 46-33, or 5,000 ballots. This, too, is right at reg.
Bottom line: The Dems are holding their reg leads, which are not small. Barring huge crossover and major indie hemorrhaging, they should all be ahead right now.
Updated, 10/27/22, 9 AM
Good morning from the only state that REALLY matters.
Five days (out of 14) of early voting in the books, and we are starting to see patterns emerge in Clark and Washoe. Dems are crushing Repubs in mail, as they did in 2020, and Repubs are easily winning the in-person voting every day, as they did in 2020. We now have a significant amount of votes in – nearly 11 percent of registered voters in urban Nevada and 11,000 rural votes.
Consider: If the final turnout is 70 percent, which would be quite high considering how slow it is so far, that would mean 14.3 percent of total turnout has voted; if it’s 60 percent, that means nearly 17 percent is in. If it’s only 50 percent, then a fifth of the vote is in.
So where are we?
The numbers look pretty good for the Dems in urban Nevada, where 170,000 ballots have now been tallied. Caveat: It’s only 5 days in, and we have to see if the mail continues to overwhelm the early in-person vote, as it did two years ago. And we still don’t know if there will be unusually large GOP turnout on Election Day, which obviously could change the dynamic.
After the last round of numbers, thanks to another 2-to-1 lead in a large (22,000) mail drop, the Dems are slightly overperforming their Clark registration. It’s 43.7 percent to 33.7 percent, or 10 percentage points; the Dem reg lead in Clark is 9.6 percent. The Clark firewall the Dems try to build every cycle where 70 percent of the voters are is at 13,341.
In Washoe, where the GOP has a 1.5 percent registration edge, the Dems are now up 41.4 percent to 37.9 percent, or 3.5 percent. That’s 1,251 ballots out of 36,275 cast. If Repubs are to win Washoe County, they need to have a sizable lead among the 7,515 non-major party voters who have cast ballots, assuming the parties are holding their bases.
The Dem lead in urban Nevada is 14,592 ballots, or 8.6 percent.
The data is incomplete, but Dem turnout (12.7 percent) is ahead of R turnout (11.6 percent), or 1.1 points. It's probably quite different, though, because of the lack of robust rural data. Rs do have a slight turnout advantage in Clark – 13.3 percent to 12.5 percent – and so far the turnout numbers in the rurals favor the Dems by percentage. That will not last. So my educated guess: Rs have a slight statewide turnout advantage when full rural numbers populate, which is what everyone expected.
For comparison, overall in 2020, the R turnout advantage in Clark ended up being 5 points — 83 percent to 78 percent. And the D lead was larger back then, almost double what it is now. So the R turnout advantage in Clark not close to the overall 2020 margin, but it could still get there after Election Day.
I told you about the rurals last night — we don’t have a lot of votes there yet, but that reduces the Dem statewide lead to 12,363 with the ballots we know are out there. That would be a 6.8 percent lead, or two and a half times what the Dem reg lead (2.7 percent) is in the state. For sake of argument, if you double the rural lead (because we know there are rurals that we don’t have), the Dems still have a 10,000-ballot edge, or 5.5 percent. If you triple the rural lead – there could be that many votes out there in the cow counties, I suppose – the Dem lead shrinks to 7,500 ballots, or 4.1 percent, still ahead of registration.
We don’t really know what rural turnout is going to be – it is low in the counties that I have data for – but the Rs need it to be high to do well. They also need 2-to-1 margins there and the D-R ratio so far is slightly less than that (46.5-25.7). But remember that indies in the rurals skew GOP, so that ratio is probably close to what they need, albeit no signs of it being overwhelming.
Note: The largest rural county vote is in Lyon, for which I have no data yet. The SOS should report the first week’s data Friday or Saturday. I have numbers, albeit incomplete, for five of the larger ones, though:
What I find most interesting – and this has been holding – is that the Democratic ballot lead in urban Nevada, which represents at least 85 percent of the total vote, is at 43.2 percent to 34.6 percent, or 8.6 percent. That is very close to – or slightly above – what it has been in when all is said and done in the last two cycles, too:
If Dems have a 7 percent or 8 percent ballot lead in urban Nevada going into Election Day, that is very bad news for the GOP. It means they will need extraordinarily high rural turnout and a big Election Day win. It also depends on how much of the vote is in by Nov. 8, and we will know more as the voting continues. And, of course, how the indies vote.
For fun, let’s just model what we have so far, those 180,000-plus ballots — my assumption here is that there is a 4 or 5 percent loss by both major parties to third parties or to none of the above:
---If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 51-45.
---If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 48-45, Dems.
---If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 50-45, Dems.
--If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s almost dead even, with a .4 percent D lead.
---If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 49-46, Dems.
---If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s almost dead even, with a .6 percent R lead.
Notes: Remember the current turnout we are modeling slightly favors the Dems because of the dearth of rural numbers. And I am only modeling advantages to the GOP because if the Dems hold their base and break even with indies, it’s game over with the current turnout ratios.
I will continue to track these models as the turnout fills in. They have been pretty predictive in past cycles.
One other thing to remember: This is not a presidential year, so there is likely to be more crossover, especially in down-ballot races. Will there be more D crossover to vote R than the other way around? What am I, an oracle?
Turnout is still very low in Clark relative to the last two cycles:
Here’s what the Clark Dem firewall has looked like after five days during the last three cycles:
It’s interesting that it is in 2022 right about where the 2018 firewall was.
If you add in mail in 2020, by this time, 330,000 ballots had been tallied in Clark, or a quarter of active voters. This cycle: 134,000, or about 10 percent. That’s a dramatic drop, even for a presidential to a midterm year.
Washoe is way down, too: This cycle, about 12 percent have voted; last cycle, it was more than a third.
Will turnout overall really be down by 40 percent from 2020 to 2018, which would make it under 50 percent in Clark? Nobody predicted that, and there are still mails to go before we sleep (copyright that one!), so let’s not conclusion-jump just yet.
More when I have it. Email with questions or criticisms or corrections, and please donate to our nonprofit if you like what we are doing.
Updated, 10/26/22, 9:30 PM
Clark early in-person is looking similar every day -- GOP wins pretty big in small sample for fifth straight day:
GOP now has a 6,300-ballot lead in early voting in Clark; mail, as of now, has Dems up 13,800, so net is D+7,500. That's a potentially porous firewall, but miles to go...
I found more rural data, via TargetEarly. Six counties worth, including many of the larger ones, and Rs have a cumulative 2,200-ballot lead out of nearly 11,000 cast. Turnout is pretty light so far, and it's hard to tell how much of the data is up to date. But it's...something!
Note: You see how hard it will be if turnout is low all over, even with that small firewall, for Rs to overcome it, especially if Washoe tilts D. 7,700 looks pretty big compared to 2,200, although some rurals are not in there and in the cow counties, indies are mostly R.
I will try to do some modeling tomorrow if I have time, with various scenarios. Excited? Me, too, dear readers.
More when I have it as Dems are Waiting For Mail. Will it ever show up?
Updated, 10/26/22, 5:40 PM
I just posted some Elko numbers on Twitter. About what you'd expect. Turnout is low there, too, but Repubs will get a hefty margin out of there. It's at 1,400 now; I'd guess it gets to at least 6,000 votes, maybe 7,500. Still unclear on turnout.
Not much else to report from the cow counties, just that turnout appears to be low. Key is to watch if any great disparity between urban and rural turnout. If rurals overperform their reg, possible trouble for Dems; if about same as Clark/Washoe, Rs will need indie help.
More when I have it.
Updated, 10/26/22, 8:45 AM
Good morning, fellow number-crunchers.
Four days in the book, turnout still low, pattern holding from 2020 (albeit scaled way down so far) of GOP winning in-person and Dems mailing it in at a much greater rate than the GOP but not at levels they did two years ago. Dems are up in urban Nevada by about 8 percentage points, which is where they have ended up the last couple of cycles.
Details are below, but first things first: I need rural numbers. If anyone has any, send them my way! (I could make some assumptions, but would rather have hard data. (Understaffed SOS not reporting them daily.) The urban numbers are at least 85 percent of the vote, so they are very meaningful. But when it comes to numbers, I always want… MORE.)
Even though four days out of 14 is not insignificant, I am hesitant to read too much into the numbers yet, mostly because I just have no sense of how many mail ballots are still out there. People are getting them much later than in 2020, but I also can’t be sure (yet) what the likely effect might be on Election Day turnout. Wild cards: Mail drop-offs on Nov. 8, and big GOP in-person turnout. (The Repubs won Election Day in 2020, but it was only 10 percent of the overall vote.)
The point of this blog for many cycles is to use the voluminous early voting data – usually two-thirds vote in-person or by mail before Election Day – to give some sense of where the election is and eventually predict outcomes. That still may happen — 10 days left in early voting, just under two weeks to Election Day, so lots of data to come. But the turnout so far is much lower than expected, not just in in-person voting but especially in mail.
Here's what we know:
---It’s not just that mail is way down in Clark — and it may still come in in large numbers. In-person early voting is dramatically reduced from the last two cycles. In both 2018 and 2020, well over 100,000 people had cast ballots by now in person in Clark; this year that number is barely over 40,000. People waiting for Election Day or will turnout be much lower than both of those years? Need. More. Data. If Clark stays low and rural turnout is high, that could be a real boon for the GOP.
---Just under 130,000 people have voted in urban Nevada; that’s 8 percent of the urban vote, still too early to draw any definitive conclusions. The Dems are up by about 10,000 votes, which is surely greater than the margin the GOP has in the rurals right now, but not by a landslide, I’d guess. The Clark firewall is just under 9,000 after four days; that compares to 10,000 in 2018 and 41,000 in 2020. (Turnout was obviously much higher in the previous two cycles, and the Dem lead in Clark is about half a point under its 9.6 percent registration lead. If it stays under the reg lead, that is very good news for the GOP, unless indies are going big for the Dems (this seems unlikely).
---Washoe continues to go well for the Dems. They are ahead 42 percent to 38 percent in a county where the GOP has a 1.5 percent reg edge. The numbers have been pretty steady, day by day.
Pressed for time this AM, so the bottom line is after four days and with not enough mail and no rural numbers, neither party can be sure. The Rs have to like what they see in Clark so far – no D domination compared to registration and low turnout – but Washoe looks robust for the Dems and if the mail ballots pour in later, this could look a lot like the two previous cycles with a sizable Clark firewall. I still think – polling and gut – that indies and undecideds tilt R in a midterm like this, but will know more when… I know more.
Washoe mail: (NOTE -- I APOLOGIZE FOR THOSE CONFUSED BY THIS CHART. THE LAST ROW IS CUMULATIVE.)
More when I have it.
Email with questions, donate if you like what the team and I are doing, etc...
Updated, 10/25/22, 4:45 PM
Some numbers to chew over while we wait for the nightly data dumps and wonder when the mail ballots will arrive and if we will ever get rural numbers:
---About 91,000 votes have been tallied so far in urban Nevada — Las Vegas+Reno. The Democrats lead 43 percent to 35 percent. What do they need that number to be to feel relatively safe? In 2020, the Dems won won urban Nevada, 40-33; in 2018, they won there, 42-34. So 7 or 8 points seems like a good benchmark. if it gets below that, the Repubs will be happy.
---If the overall turnout is 70 percent, which looks high now, 7.2 percent of the vote is in. If it is 60 percent, 8.4 percent is in. And if it is as low as 50 percent, which seems unlikely, 10 percent is in. Remember, turnout was 77 percent in 2020 and 62 percent in 2018.
---If you model the current turnout in urban Nevada through various turnout scenarios, you find the same thing that you do if you model what the overall turnout would be if it were a 2018 model, for instance: It could be very close. For instance, if it looks like 2018 and Dems don't tie or win indies by a few points, big trouble looms. If they hold their own with indies and turn out their base, though, big trouble for GOP.. The indies remain the wild card, and so far they are a little more than a fifth of the turnout.
---Remember this is much more difficult in an off-year to predict outcomes because there is no presidential race sucking all the oxygen out of the election. There could be very different splits in the gov and Senate races and down the ticket is a crapshoot. Who is more likely to win indies and who is more likely to get crossover votes? Hard to say right now. (And by no means am I preparing to take a pass on my usual Sunday-before-Election-Day predictions or making early excuses because I would never do that.)
I remain your faithful servant, sitting around, waiting for the mail...
Updated, 10/25/22, 9:15 AM
Good morning, fellow data-deprived people.
Stop me if you have heard this one before: There’s something happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear….
Repubs won Clark and Washoe early voting Monday and decisively, but the turnout again was low and not consistent with the last two cycles — see numbers below. That’s not surprising, but it’s more meaningful now that mail is down so much (at least so far). The rural blackout continues — SOS not updating daily because of staffing issues, so we don’t know much of anything outside urban Nevada.
- Turnout is way down in populous (70 percent of the vote) Clark County so far for both parties — not just from 2020, a presidential year and the first one where every voter was sent a ballot. Last cycle would still seem to be the best comparison — scaled down for a midterm but the only one where mail balloting was so big. It may not be as useful as originally thought, however. Could turnout really be only 40 percent of 2020, not 80 percent? Still seems unlikely.
- The Clark County firewall remains small — 6,000 ballots. It’s more like 2018 (it was 7,500 ballots after three days) than 2020 (it was 42,000 after three days because of the flood of mail). The raw vote lead must make Repubs happy. We also do not have a bunch of new mail, which will worry some Dems if it doesn’t start pouring in soon to build the firewall. If it does come in, it will help the Dems, if past is prologue.
- This is shaping up to be a sui generis year here, one where comparisons don’t mean much, especially until we get more data. The GOP win in early voting in Clark on Monday is not surprising – it happened almost every day in 2020, but the real story is how slow mail is coming in – only 39,000 ballots have been counted so far, and it was already into six figures (108,000) by now in 2020. Are those votes still coming – they dramatically favored Dems in 2020 by more than 2-to-1 in Clark – or will it be significantly less than 2020?
This will show you just how small Clark County in-person turnout is to past cycles:
Has mail become the way Clark County residents will vote from now on? Maybe. There surely was more incentive to do so in 2020, with a pandemic still raging. But maybe, like Oscar voters once felt about Sally Field, they like it, they really like it. Are even Republicans waiting to mail in or drop off their ballots? Or will there be a wave of red voters on Election Day?
You can spin the numbers any way you want — and both sides are/will. But it’s still murky as hell. If turnout stays this low, the Clark firewall can be scaled down to 2018 levels — it eventually got to 47,000, and the Dems did very well and could do so again. But if the turnout begins to grow to somewhere between 2018 (62 percent) and 2020 (77 percent) and the firewall doesn’t grow, that will be a real warning beacon for Dems that their three-cycle run of domination is coming to an end.
Let’s take a look at the current numbers we have, remembering we don’t have much more mail to go on than we already had and it all depends when you download the file (I downloaded just before 8 AM) and a few will be thrown out or delayed because of issues:
Total Clark mail: 41,499
D – 20,228 (49 percent)
R – 10,618 (26 percent)
O – 10,653 (26 percent)
So it remains about 2 to 1 and a nearly 10,000-ballot lead for Dems. Reminder: This is below the lead they had built in raw and percentage terms at the same point two years ago, but the better metric is how it ended up in Clark in 2020: 50 percent, Dems; 22 percent, Repubs; 28 percent, others. So the Dems are behind that pace after three days.
Clark in-person early voting Monday: 12,534
D – 4,306 (34.4 percent)
R – 5,968 (47.5 percent)
O – 2,260 (18 percent)
Clark in-person early voting overall: 31,998
D – 11,568 (36.1 percent)
R – 14,631(45.7 percent)
O – 5,799 (18.1 percent)
So GOP has a significant percentage edge, but only a 3,000-ballot lead because turnout is so low. For perspective, Rs had a 30,000-ballot lead in in-person early voting by the end of the 14-day period in 2020.
Combined Clark mail/early so far:
D – 31,796 (43.3 percent)
R – 25,249 (34.5 percent)
O – 16,452 (22.4 percent)
That 8.8 percent lead is below the 9.6 percent edge the Dems have in Clark registration and is a danger sign for the Dems if it continues. (Reminder: Dem statewide candidates need to win Clark by 10 percent to feel confident they can survive hemorrhaging outside Clark.) This has never happened (Dems under double digits in Clark during early plus mail voting) and may just be a reflection of mail not coming in yet in greater numbers. But that 6,000-ballot edge is something the GOP must be salivating over, too -- even more so, if the Dems stay below double digits in percentage in Clark.
Bottom line: Only 6 percent of Clark has turned out, so hard to extrapolate. And I repeat: This is an odd year so far. My question I will also keep repeating: WHERE IS THE MAIL?
As for the Washoe numbers, GOP continues to win easily in early voting but is losing by much large r margins in the mail ballots counted so far. The margin Monday was about 500 ballots (1,792-1,266) in in-person voting and the mail lead is now 1,600 for the Dems. This is the swing county, and it is showing its swinginess. Turnout is just under 6 percent so far in Washoe.
The overall numbers in Washoe: Repubs lead by 1,000 ballots in early voting, so with the Dem lead in mail, the Dems lead in Washoe by 600 ballots, or about 3.5 percent. Reminder: Republicans have a 1.5 percentage point registration edge there.
The combined Washoe numbers:
Total ballots cast: 17,280
D – 7,234 (41.8 percent)
R – 6,631(38.4 percent)
O – 3,415 (19.8 percent)
Remember that if the Dems break even in Washoe and win Clark by 10 or more, it’s probably game over for GOP statewide candidates, with the only caveat being that the indies ultimately will decide, assuming the base votes the way we expect.
One note about indies, and I will say more later as I dive deeper: If polling is correct in Clark County and those three congressional races are pretty close, that means indies are probably breaking slightly for the Rs right now. (The Dem registration leads in those districts is at least 6 points.) So the Dems cannot feel comfortable by just hitting the usual margins, and the Rs have to think that bodes well for them.
I’ll start modeling various turnout scenarios soon. But the caveat still applies: It’s early. Three days does not a trend make. It is, however, quite different from anything we have seen since I have been granularly tracking this .
Please email me at [email protected] if you find errors – SO MANY NUMBERS – or have questions or comments. This is not easy to do, and our nonprofit appreciates any support you can give. Thank you.
Updated, 10/24/22, 4:30 PM
Because of a communication screw-up, I (and others) thought another big Clark mail dump was coming today. Not so. We have everything up to date through the weekend.
So turnout was way down and remains way down. For now. IT'S ONLY TWO DAYS.
The numbers changed slightly from last night after election officials processed the raw data I told you about below. With some ballots needing to be cured -- that's a process to fix your vote if something was done wrong -- they are taken out of the mix.
The actual Clark mail ballot number is 38,789 (reduced by about 1,200) -- I have tweaked the numbers below to reflect that. It doesn't change much -- percentages all the same -- except for dashing Democratic hopes that more mail was coming today.
So from now on, when I report the received ballots, I will let you know the numbers will change slightly after they are officially processed.
Still too early to tell anything. I'll tell you when it's not...
Updated, 10/24/22, 10 AM
We have rural numbers! Well, not many, but we have some. (SOS so far of no help -- it has been in past elections.)
Some Elko mail ballots:
D -- 100
R -- 217
O -- 123
Remember rural indies skew toward the Rs. These small numbers don't tell us much, but keep track of the margins in the rurals. There's a chart in a previous post, but we will know by the end of the first week if Adam Laxalt & Co. have much of a chance to run up the numbers there enough to win. We also may know just how many Republicans in the rurals are mailing it in.
Only other significant numbers via TargetEarly:
D -- 266
R -- 487
O -- 299
Doesn't tell us much except the usual: Rurals are red, and if Dems can hold down the margins there, it could be meaningful. They usually lose 2 to 1 and still do well enough in Clark to offset it.
We will know more in a week. I hope.
More when I have it...
Updated, 10/24/22, 8 AM
Two days of data in the books in urban Nevada, where 85 percent of the vote will be, and partisans on both sides are looking for trends to feel good or despair about.
I am sure Republicans feel pretty, pretty good because the Clark Democratic firewall is under 8,000 voters after two days, and the Democratic mail lead in the South is not quite as robust as it was in 2020. But Democrats surely are happy that their overall lead in Clark in percentage points is well above their registration lead there – turnout is way down – and they lead in Washoe where they trail in registration.
But: IT’S ONLY TWO DAYS.
I can’t stress this enough, folks: This already is a year unlike any other year, so all comparisons are fraught. I still think 2020 – or some scaled-down version thereof because this is a midterm and not a presidential – makes the most sense because every voter got a ballot, and mail is going to be huge again. (It was nearly half of all ballots in 2020.)
It’s also only two days of data, so let’s not have a conniption either way. (Please don’t check my Twitter mentions, which are conniption-filled.) Twelve more days of early voting to come, and mail ballots can be counted until four days after the election. (Don’t tell Trump.)
All data are interesting, but some are more interesting than others. The key metric, though, for me has always been the Clark firewall: The margin the Democrats can build in Clark County (Las Vegas) to offset landslide losses in much less populous rural Nevada and, perhaps, smaller losses in swing Washoe County (Reno). Dems have done well the last two cycles in Washoe, but they are worried about it this cycle.
In a bit, I’ll discuss the current state of the firewall — spoiler alert: much lower right now than in 2020 but similar to 2018 if you are a Dem looking for optimism.
Having said all of that, and hoping you are not among those reading too much into every tweet and are READING THE DAMN BLOG for context, here’s what we know:
---Turnout is way down. Some of it – much of it maybe – may be because of inclement weather in Clark County over the weekend. But it also may be true that even more voters – Democrats, Republicans and non-major party voters – will vote by mail this cycle.
How small is turnout? In 2020, after two days, more than 50,000 voters had cast ballots in person in Clark; in 2018, that number was almost 54,000. In 2022, that number is about 20,000. So in-person turnout, after two days in Clark, is about 40 percent of what it was the last two cycles, weather not permitting.
Mail is also way down, although we have to consider that they may just be counting it slower this cycle. It’s always hard to tell. But in 2020, the first batch was more than 100,000; the first one this cycle is about 40,000. Again, that is a huge difference.
Forget the weather: Is this a sign of mail coming in later or is turnout going to be much lower than the 1.2 million or so voters statewide many had anticipated? We still don’t know.
Before I show you the actual numbers, compare the Clark Dem firewalls after two days, combining in-person and mail:
2020: 36,000 (final firewall was 81,000, and the Dems did very well)
That is dramatic, although the scaled-down turnout has to be a factor.
In 2018, the firewall after two days was only 5,500 (final firewall was 47,000, and the Dems did very well)
We are missing two key important data points: Rural turnout/margins, and…more days. I hope we get the former soon (hello, SOS!), and the latter is inevitable.
Let’s look at the numbers we have so far in urban Nevada:
Clark early vote Sunday:
D – 2,950 (37.5 percent)
R – 3,437 (43.7 percent)
O – 1,474 (18.8 percent)
Clark cumulative early vote:
D – 7,171 (37.2 percent)
R – 8,591 (44.6 percent)
O – 3,495 (18.1 percent)
So the raw R lead is about 1,400 votes. The Rs ended up winning early voting in Clark County in 2020 after losing the first two days by smaller margins than they have in past cycles. The final in-person early vote margin was 30,000 votes for the GOP, or about 7 percent. That is, about what it is today in percentage terms.
D—19.005 (49 percent)
R – 9,948 (26 percent)
O – 9,836 (26 percent)
So Dems have a nearly 2-to-1 lead in mail and a raw vote advantage of more than 9,000 votes. As GOP operative Jeremy Hughes points out in his weekly data dive, that 23 percent lead is significantly lower than the 38 percent lead the Dems had in 2020 after the first data dump. But we still don’t know what the counting pace is or what the ultimate mail volume will be.
Here’s what mail was in Clark in 2020 after all was said and done:
D—229,483 (50 percent)
R — 100,191 (22 percent)
O—127,512 (28 percent)
So Dems ultimately won mail by 28 percent in Clark; they lead after two days by 23 percent. Let’s see what happens after a few more days of mail data to try to discern what’s really occurring.
The combined Clark numbers so far:
D – 26,176 (45 percent)
R – 18,539 (32 percent)
O – 13,331 (23 percent)
Although the GOP may take heart in the relatively small raw vote deficit, Dems may derive sustenance from the 13 point lead in percentage terms — well above the 9.6 percent registration lead the Dems have in Southern Nevada. If they could hold that number, they may have confidence going into Election Day.
In Washoe, the numbers are similar on a smaller scale:
Washoe early vote Sunday:
D – 706 (36.4 percent)
R – 911 (47 percent)
O – 321 (16.6 percent)
Washoe cumulative early vote:
D – 1,736 (36.1 percent)
R – 2,259 (47 percent)
O – 808 (16.8 percent)
D – 2,736 (46.7 percent)
R – 1,742 (29.8 percent)
O – 1,372 (23.4 percent)
The combined Washoe numbers:
D – 4,472 (41.9 percent)
R – 4,001 (37.6 percent)
O – 2,180 (20.4 percent)
This turnout is also far below 2020, when a fifth of Washoe voters had cast ballots by now; this cycle, that number is about 3 percent. So every previous cycle is an orange to this apple.
The numbers in Washoe, where the GOP has a 1.5 percentage point registration lead, look pretty good for the Dems in the early going: Almost a 500-voter lead and 4 percentage points. But lest I repeat myself: IT’S ONLY TWO DAYS.
I wish we had rural numbers, and I wish the SOS would post daily updates – that’s not going to happen this year, which will drive me and others batty.
Updates coming when I can…
As usual, it's easy to make data entry or math mistakes among this blizzard of numbers. Please ping me if you see something.
Updated, 10/23/22, 9:15 AM
One day of early voting in the books. Here are the numbers for urban Nevada so far (remember there are plenty of charts in earlier posts for context):
Clark County mail: 762
D – 404 (53 percent)
R – 129 (17 percent)
O – 229 (30 percent)
Clark early voting: 11,396
D – 4,221 (37 percent)
R –5,154 (45 percent)
O – 2,021 (18 percent)
CUMULATIVE CLARK: 12,158
D – 4,625 (38 percent)
R – 5,283 (43 percent)
O – 2,250 (19 percent)
Washoe mail: 5,388
D –2,490 (46 percent)
R –1,614 (30 percent)
O – 1,284 (24 percent)
Washoe early voting: 2,865
D- 1,030 (36 percent)
R – 1,348 (47 percent)
O – 487 (17 percent)
CUMULATIVE WASHOE: 8,252
D – 3,520 (43 percent)
R – 2,961 (36 percent)
O – 1,771 (21 percent)
CUMULATIVE URBAN NEVADA: 20,410
D – 8,145 (40 percent)
R – 8,244 (40 percent)
O – 4,021 (20 percent)
It's (almost) a tie!
So what does this mean?
I don’t anyone who understands this stuff from either party who thinks it means much. There are two reasons not to draw any conclusions:
- It’s such a small sample — maybe 2 percent of what total turnout will be. And the windstorm in Clark County clearly depressed the usual first-day turnout and attempt by both parties to show strength. (It was 27,000 in 2020, 30,000 in 2018 in Clark.)
- Mail data is sparse so far and will overwhelm the totals we have now. Expect the first substantial mail numbers to post Monday.
Remember there are no easy apples to apples comparisons here. Yes, 2018 was the last midterm, but not every voter received a mail ballot four years ago. In 2020, every voter received a mail ballot and mail balloting was 48 percent of the total and in-person early voting was 41 percent. (There is chart in an earlier post.) So 2020 may be a better comparison in voting patterns, with turnout likely to be about three-quarters or so of what it was in a presidential year. We will know more about turnout as the 14-day early voting period progresses.
If you care – and I don’t think it’s very useful – the Dems won Clark by 44 percent to 37 percent the first day of early voting last cycle, or 2,000 votes. By the time of the first mail data dump, the Clark Dem lead was...32,000. So let’s wait for mail to see what is happening this time in Clark County, where the Dems need to build a firewall. (How big a firewall? Not sure yet what would hold off losses elsewhere, but it was 47,000 in 2018 and 81,000 in 2020 after early voting ended. Both were big Dem years here.)
Democrats dominated mail balloting overall last cycle (by 20 percentage points), partly because Donald Trump and others scared the base about mail ballots. Republicans won in-person early voting (a reverse of usual trends in Nevada) by about 15 points, but the number of voters was significantly smaller (by more than 100,000).
Keep an eye on the mail trend you see above: If more Republicans vote by mail this time, that’s a warning sign for the Dems. Many may also wait until Election Day to vote in person or drop off their mail ballots. In 2020, for reference, only 37 percent of Repubs voted by mail overall; let's see what that number is after mail posts Monday.
It seems clear many voters dropped off their mail ballots Saturday (the Culinary union, for example, says it has used this method) – and these are not included in the totals above because they have yet to post. I have never jumped to conclusions after one day of voting, and this year is even trickier than most because of the explosion of non-major party voters and the inclement weather Saturday.
Of course, if turnout remains virtually tied in urban Nevada (as it is now) after mail ballots start accumulating, that will signal a large red wave. That’s because the Repubs will win in a landslide in rural Nevada (I will post rural numbers when I get them.) and Dems need to win big in Clark and hold their own in Washoe, which some observers think will not be as favorable to Dems as it has been in recent cycles (Repubs have a slight registration lead in Washoe)
I’ll post more when I have more data or epiphanies….
CHECK ME, AS ALWAYS, FELLOW DATA GEEKS. IT’S EASY TO MAKE DATA ENTRY ERRORS. (Note at 9:50 AM -- corrected Clark mail because, as one sharp observer pointed out, I lumped in undeliverable ballots in. Didn't change much, but won't happen again!)
(One timely reminder: People on Twitter are bonkers.)
Updated, 10/22/22, 9 AM
And so it begins.
I will post results of early voting as I can corral the data — may be tonight (I have plans and a life outside this blog, but don't tell too many people), tomorrow AM at the latest.
As I said, I expect about 1.2 million voters, give or take, to turn out. About 850,000, or perhaps slightly less, should be from Clark. If Clark turnout is down, that is an early warning sign for the Dems.
Last cycle, 27,000 turned out on the first day of voting in Clark, and the Dems only won by 7 points and had a 2,000-voter lead over the GOP. They had a 12 percent registration lead in Clark at the time, or 155,000 voters. Now it is down to 9.6 percent, or 126,000 voters. Dangerous to extrapolate from a first day, but that's the context.
The mail ballots poured in during the first election in which all voters got a ballot, and a 2,000-voter lead in 2020 soon became... 35,000 for the Dems after the first mail posted. We should know those numbers Monday.
And keep an eye on Washoe (Reno), the other urban county: In 2020, early voting turnout was about 6,000., and Dems won by 500 votes. But Dems swamped Repubs in mail there, too, and took a 2-to-1 lead.
Remember that about 90 percent of the vote was in before Election Day in 2020, and we don't know if more Repubs will withhold their votes until Nov. 8 this cycle. I will try to discern trends along the way.
If Dems don't do well today, it may be a sign of a red wave to come. But no conclusion-jumping on this blog. Yet.
Thanks as always to all those out there who feed me info along the way. I truly appreciate it.
Updated, 10/21/22, 11 AM
Early voting starts Saturday, so a few things to consider as we wait for that data:
— Both parties always try to make a big show on the first day, to create perceptions and momentum. The Culinary union put out a release Thursday boasting of its historic efforts — "Launch of largest GOTV program in NV on the first day of Early Vote." They are encouraging folks to vote by mail and drop off ballots. We will know by early next week, when the first returned mail ballots will be posted, if it is making a difference.
— For some perspective, here is what early voting turnout looked like in Clark the last few cycles:
— And here is what the Clark Dem lead has looked like with combined early and mail voting day by day the last few cycles:
In 2020, the first time every voter got a mail ballot, as they did this year, the Republicans would generally win in-person voting (unlike past cycles) but their lead was then overwhelmed by mail ballots, which the Dems used much more than the Republicans, as you can see in a chart from the first post below.
For perspective, last cycle Clark saw about 27,000 turn out on the first day and the Dems won by nearly 2,000 votes (44-37). That was in a presidential year, so it's not apples to apples, and smart people on both sides think the turnout will be between 67 percent and 70 percent, or between 1.1 million and 1.2 million voters. We will know more when the votes start pouring in.
--- Some key metrics: The number of registered voters is about the same as 2020 — a little more than 1.8 million. But there has been no surge, as there usually is, in Dem registration this cycle. The statewide lead, as I have told you, is just under 3 percent. It has been at least 5 percent the last two cycles. And, another reminder: Watch indie turnout. Dems think they lean their way, but Repubs think they will break against the Dem incumbents because people want change. Makes it harder to model, but I will gather intel from both sides and do my best.
--- For what it's worth — it's still too few votes — the TargetEarly site is updated. It's a tie!
I may have a post tomorrow, may not.
Updated, 10/20/22, 9:45 AM
I am told not to expect any major mail updates from Clark County until Monday, so stop holding your breath, folks. I am as hungry for data as many of you are, so content yourself with this site, which has early mail data from the rurals and a couple of votes from Washoe.
I asked TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier about the site's data collection methods, and here's what he told me:
In general, we receive daily updates (sometimes more frequently) from states/county election offices in the form of a database of those registered voters who are recorded as having voted, whether that is a mail ballot being flagged as returned, or an early in person vote, or any other mode of early voting. We match those files to our existing national voter file, and produce the aggregates you see on our TargetEarly site accordingly.
The site also has some interesting filters to model how voters might be voting. (As many of you know, I will be doing my own modeling once enough votes are in. Not enough votes are in...)
For fun, knowing not enough votes are in yet for anything but that, here's what TargetEarly says so far, with votes in Clark, three rurals and those two Dems in Washoe (!):
D: 309 (28.3 percent)
R: 408 (37.4 percent)
O: 294 (26.9 percent)
Can't wait for the first early vote download, although I probably won't post until Sunday AM because I am, somewhat fittingly, going to see "Hamilton" on the first day of early voting.
More when I have it. My usual ending:
Updated, 10/19/22, 8:20 AM
Still waiting for a large batch of mail ballots to be posted, maybe before early voting starts Saturday. But there are a few — 316 in all in Clark County. They appear to be military ballots, and there are far too few to be significant.
But for the record, more than half are Dems (166) and the other half are split between non-majors (79) and Repubs (71). My pal from 2020, Dr. John Samuelson of the University of Arkansas, found these a few weeks ago and compared them to 2020.
IT'S A BLUE WAVE!
I kid, folks. I'm as ravenous for real data as you are and will post when I get numbers.
Welcome to the early voting blog!
It’s that time of year again — the time when I try to tune out all the ads and spin and focus on what really decides elections: math.
The arithmetic really can be predictive, as you can see from the early voting blogs in 2018 and 2020. The goal here is to follow the numbers and try to show you what trends are becoming evident as early voting begins. By following who has voted by party and taking into account past trends, I usually know before Election Day what is likely to occur, especially because so many voters cast ballots before then.
For instance, I knew in 2014 there would be a red wave in Nevada after only a couple of days of early voting because of poor Democratic turnout in Clark County. In 2016, I could predict before Election Day that Hillary Clinton would win the state because of the early voting math and the insurmountable Clark County firewall the Democrats had built before Election Day — Clark (Las Vegas and environs) has about 70 percent of the state’s vote. In 2018, the early voting data indicated a possible Democratic sweep, which came to pass with the only exception being the secretary of state’s race, which Republican Barbara Cegavske narrowly won.
Last cycle, I watched the firewall build again and I wrote: If Biden wins Clark by 100,000 – or even 90,000 – there is almost no possible path for Trump.
Biden won Clark by 90,000 votes and won the state by 2.5 points. The math, dear readers, is inevitable.
I am starting this blog early this cycle, as I did two years ago, because of the likely prevalence of mail voting — every voter should have received a ballot by the end of this week and many will already have voted before the two-week, in-person period begins Saturday.
I will track trends, show you what is happening, track how many votes are left to be cast and try to extrapolate.
Comparisons to past cycles can be helpful, but it’s not clear that midterm to midterm is the right metric this time. That’s because mail balloting, thanks to every voter getting one, skyrocketed in 2020, changing the dynamic. Usually, about two-thirds vote early, but that changed in 2020, as you can see from the chart below — almost 90 percent had voted before Election Day.
This is the second consecutive general election when all voters will have received a mail ballot, so the percentages of how turnout occurs are likely to look more like 2020 than the last midterm in 2018. That is, it’s likely mail balloting will be the dominant way to vote among Democrats. The numbers for 2020:
— Mail ballots were almost half of the total turnout, and Democrats won mail by almost 140,000 ballots.
— In-person early voting was about 40 percent of the turnout, and Republicans won by more than 80,000 ballots.
— Election Day voting was only 10 percent of the total turnout, and Republicans won by just under 16,000 ballots.
So Democrats cast about 40,000 more ballots than the Republicans in 2020, or just under 3 percent. And they won the presidential race and the contested congressional contests while losing a handful of legislative seats.
But turnout in 2020 was much higher – 78 percent – than what it is expected to be this year. It was 57 percent in the 2018 midterms – higher than usual for an off year – and Democrats cast 25,000 more ballots than the GOP. Is somewhere in the middle more reasonable? Definitely, maybe.
Two charts below show what turnout by party was in recent elections as well as what turnout inside each party has been since 2014.
As you can see, the Republicans always have higher overall turnout, usually by 4 or 5 percentage points, but the Democratic registration edge has been critical in surmounting that advantage. The only aberration in the last four cycles was in 2014 when the Republicans won the turnout war, 58 percent to 42 percent, causing a deep red wave that won them all the constitutional offices, both houses of the Legislature and three or four House seats.
I don’t know anyone who thinks that 58-42 will be replicated this cycle — if it is, the GOP will win everything again. But if the GOP advantage gets outside the usual 4 or 5 percentage points, that will be a major warning beacon for Dems. This is especially true because the Democratic advantage over the GOP has dropped significantly since 2020 — it’s under 3 percent statewide and under 10 percent in Clark County, as you can see below.
Even when it was 5 or 6 percentage points, the Dems could not take anything for granted and the races were not blowouts. The truth is that in 2018, the Dems crushed the GOP in Clark on Election Day – 92,000-69,000 – and that allowed Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Jacky Rosen to win by relatively comfortable margins. By contrast, in 2020, Election Day was relatively even – the GOP won by 1,000 votes or so in Clark – so the GOP blowouts in every other county were not as damaging to Joe Biden.
Again, the main reason Election Day has not been nearly as important in statewide races for many cycles is that the die is cast in early voting, especially in Clark County, where the Dems have been able to build up a firewall that becomes nearly impenetrable by the end of early voting. This was true even with the advent of much more mail voting two years ago, as you can see in this chart:
The firewall matters, as you can see in this chart:
But the firewall also has been shrinking in percentage terms. Biden won Clark by just under 10 percentage points, while Jacky Rosen won by nearly 15 percentage points over Dean Heller in 2018. Rosen won Nevada by about 5 points, Biden by half that margin.
If the Republicans running statewide can cut that Clark loss margin even more, it’s going to be a long night on Nov. 8 — and long days afterwards, too, as the mail comes in.
It is the cliché of cliches in politics, but it has never been more true than this cycle: It all comes down to turnout. The Democrats hope that Clark turnout is high while the Republicans, knowing they will win by at least 2-to-1 in rural Nevada, need to drive up those numbers. And in Washoe, where some insiders tell me the Democrats are not going to do as well as they did in 2018 and 2020, if the Republicans do well and turnout is high, that, too, could offset any Clark losses.
Clark has 70 percent of the registration, and as you can see from the chart below, turnout and registration in the last few cycles have been very close:
I have a couple of more margin charts to show you, too. The first shows what the rural margins have been since 2014, when Adam Laxalt won by such a large margin in his race for attorney general that he was able to lose the urban counties. That was an anomaly, to be sure, but that is why the rurals could matter. In 2020, I thought Trump needed to win rural Nevada by 90,000 votes to offset losses in Clark and Washoe. He didn’t come close and even 90,000 would not have worked: Trump lost Clark by 91,000 and Washoe by 12,000 and won the rurals by about 70,000. Obviously, those numbers will be scaled down in a midterm – by how much is not yet clear – but Trump took two-thirds of the rural vote in 2020 and anything less than that for statewide Republicans this cycle could be a problem.
Here are rural margins since 2014:
The wildest of wild cards this year is the 680,000 voters not registered with either party. Many of these were automatically registered at the DMV, and it is unclear how many of them actually will vote – or who they align with. Polling has shown they generally tilt GOP, but the Democrats think many are their voters. This will make predicting outcomes much more difficult for those of us so inclined…
Following are some possible turnout scenarios. (I will adjust the models as the votes come in. ) The first two use this year’s registration numbers to mirror what would happen if the percentages were the same as 2014 and 2018; the next few show different models, with Democratic percentages first, then GOP, then others.
You can see how close this is likely to be unless one party or the other surprises and unless the indies really tilt one way or another. This is why Republicans are so optimistic here (not just because of the POTUS numbers, high gas prices and inflation). The math looks promising for them in a way it has not in many cycles. The Democrats hope their base turnout, through massive mail ballots, could save them, but we won’t know how that is going until the data starts pouring in. Mail ballots have been delivered in Clark, early voting begins Saturday.
Please email me if you find errors or have criticisms, suggestions or questions at [email protected]. I can use all the help/intel I can get. And if you appreciate this service, please consider making a donation to our nonprofit site.