the nevada independent logo
Ralston Reports

The early voting blog

Washoe County Registrar of Voters Office on June 8, 2020. Photo by David Calvert.
Last updated: October 27th, 2020 - 9:00pm

If you appreciate Jon's early voting blog posts, please donate to our nonprofit.

Updated, 7:15 AM, 10/28/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types.

The Dems' Clark firewall ticked up to almost 72,000 based on latest mail count. The Dems were able to offset the 3,400-early-vote loss Tuesday as they were plus-5,000 in the latest mail count.

The Clark numbers:

Mail: Dems+96K

In-person: GOP+24K

I still think staffing in Clark gives them the ability to only count certain amounts of mail at a time. But this was a sizable batch added to the total – almost 25K.

So what does a 72K firewall mean? That’s just under the overall 2016 total of 73K and ahead of the pace even if you extrapolate as the chart shows:

But let’s be clear: The Dems are not making huge gains every day to get that number up to 88,000, which would be the equivalent of the 2016 number extrapolated with 200,000 more voters on the rolls. I’m not sure what number would make them comfortable, with this cycle’s odd patterns (so much mail, uncertain Election Day turnout).

But my guess is they want to get that to be 80,000-plus. They have three days – plus whatever mail comes in after Saturday, which is a wild card, too. It will be larger than most years, so it may be better to mark the firewall at Election Day, rather than when early voting ends Friday.

Washoe remains important, too. The Dems lead there is now under 5,000 – the GOP is starting to shave that every day.

For perspective, the GOP has a slight reg edge there, and at the end of early voting/mail in 2016, the Dem edge was 1,000. So they are still ahead of their pace in Washoe, and the county has leaned more Dem the past two cycles – Clinton won there as did Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Jacky Rosen.

So where are we?

My guess is after the rurals come in, the Dem statewide lead will be in the 52,000 range, give or take. It was 45,000 at the end of early/mail in 2016. The extrapolated figure (250K new voters) would be 54,000.

I will know more later when the SOS posts, but the overall turnout in early/mail voting is on track to be two-thirds (or even more) of the overall vote, which is par for the Nevada course. That's why I am tracking votes left so I can better project what could happen on Election Day.

I want to re-emphasize what I have said from the beginning, all: This is an apple year, and the rest have been oranges. Or is it an orange and the rest have been apples?

The Dems still have a significant lead in the state -- probably about 5 percent -- but it is far from over, especially with the GOP filing several lawsuits to suppress the mail count, the uncertainty of the next few days and the mystery of Election Day turnout.

Deeper dive coming later.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 10 PM, 10/27/20

Remember I told you the pattern has been that the GOP does best on the 10th and 11th day of early in-person voting?

The Tuesday numbers look very much like the Monday numbers -- gain of about 5K combined in Washoe and Clark.

Let's see what the mailbag brings overnight and tomorrow.

Clark firewall could be as low as 67K and statewide lead could be down below 50K. Dems lead in Washoe still a robust 5K, but dropping.

To meet 2016 metrics at end of early voting, Dems would need 54K statewide and 88K in Clark -- they are not on track to get either with three days left.

That NYT poll may show 6-point Biden lead, but I doubt the Dems are sleeping well tonight.

Until the morrow...

Updated, 7:25 PM, 10/27/20

Quick update before the evening wait for Clark and Washoe:

No new numbers from SOS yet, but I have updated my Votes Left chart, which also shows that Clark (66.5 percent) and the rurals (12.5 percent) are just below their percentage of the state's registration while Washoe (21 percent) is just above. (I am still stunned at how much of Washoe already is in.)

Still plenty of votes left -- 937,500, or 54 percent of active voters. The Dems turnout edge is now down to 2.7 percent, about half of what it was a week ago. But the GOP usually has that edge and will need it by the end for Trump to win.

Here are the numbers:

27-Oct
County Total Left Turnout D left R left O left
Clark 1,205,222 677,812 43.8% 249,527 174,786 239,666
Washoe 303,756 135,890 55.3% 38,599 45,824 49,141
Lyon 39,993 23,179 42.0% 3,786 10,820 8,156
Douglas 38,752 18,454 52.4% 3,097 9,902 5,268
Carson 37,277 19,053 48.9% 4,600 7,824 6,504
Nye 33,852 20,748 38.7% 4,164 9,685 6,618
Elko 25,059 15,486 38.2% 1,844 8,157 5,075
Churchill 15,734 8,310 47.2% 1,062 4,370 2,705
Humboldt 8,714 5,746 34.1% 759 3,184 1,696
White Pine 5,236 2,905 44.5% 493 1,542 812
Storey 3,604 1,928 46.5% 331 935 664
Lander 3,291 1,607 51.2% 220 837 508
Mineral 3,120 1,816 41.8% 424 747 606
Lincoln 3,024 1,975 34.7% 251 1,303 392
Pershing 2,812 1,486 47.2% 234 769 451
Eureka 1,135 690 39.2% 40 811 162
Esmeralda 558 374 33.0% 54 215 95
Total 1,731,139 937,459 45.8% 309,485 281,711 328,519
% 54.2% 48.5% 50.2% 64.0%

The latest Clark deep dive (before today's numbers, of course) shows the Dems losing points off their leads in key districts:

CD3 (Lee):

120,500 have voted early

GOP+19,000

120,000 people have voted by mail

Dems+32,500

Overall: Dems+13,500 out of 240,500 who have voted

5.5-percent lead (down a point and a half from last update)

47 percent of active voters have voted, so more than half the vote is in.

CD4 (Clark part, which is 85 percent) (Horsford):

84,000 have voted early

GOP+7,500

82,000 voted by mail

D+29,000

Overall: D+21,500 out of 166,000 who have voted

13-percent lead (down 2 points from last update)

43 percent of active voters in, so about half the vote

SD5 (Woodhouse)

Early: 20,000

GOP+2,700

Mail: 19,000

D+6,000

Overall: D+3,300 out of 39,000 who have voted

8.5 percent lead (down 1.5 points)

46 percent of active voters have voted, so more than half the vote is in

SD6 (Cannizzaro)

Early: 20,000

GOP+2,500

Mail:21,000

D+6,500

Overall: D+4,000 out of 41,000 who have voted

10-percent lead (down a point)

More later when I get today's urban numbers...

Updated, 11:50 AM, 10/27/20

A new update and a new poll, so let’s get started:

The SOS has new numbers, and they show a slightly bigger Washoe advantage for the Dems, meaning more mail has been processed. The Clark numbers are not up to date on SOS site, but I will use the updated ones I have. So:

I still think the conservative estimate (before we get more mail votes) is a Clark lead of 70K for the Dems. The SOS says the Washoe lead is 6.6K. Statewide Dem lead with Clark adjustments is about 52,000 – that’s well above the same point in 2016 (32,500) and even if adjusted with the greater number of registered voters this cycle (40,500), it’s still significantly better. That's also a 6.5 percent ballot lead, about 2.5 points above registration.

It appears (adding the missing Clark numbers) that about 800,000 people have voted. That’s 46 percent or so of active registered voters, which means well over half the vote is in. If turnout is 80 percent, it may now be close to 60 percent in. If it’s 85 percent, it’s still 55 percent.

Even if turnout is 90 percent in Washoe, which would be astounding, more than 60 percent of the vote is in. It may be closer to 70 percent if it’s a normal turnout.

The numbers give or take the mail delay and tardy rurals:

333,000 (Ds) to 281,000 (Rs) to 186,000 (nonpartisans and others).

Let’s plug those into the models:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45.

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

It may not be exactly any of these splits, of course, but one will be close to correct.

27-Oct 90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90-90-40/50 90-90-50/45 90-90-45/50
Biden 397,450 406,750 388,150 406,750 397,450
Trump 353,250 343,950 362,550 353,250 362,550
Rest 49,300 49,300 49,300 40,000 40,000
Biden 50% 51% 49% 51% 50%
Trump 44% 43% 45% 44% 45%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Victory margin 44,200 (Biden) 62,800 (Biden) 25,600 (Biden) 53,500 (Biden) 34,900 (Biden)

So if indies are evenly split, and neither candidate loses more than 10 percent of his base, Biden is up by 6.

Which brings me to the latest NYT/Siena poll, released this morning, that shows....Biden by 6. Some thoughts:

----The crosstabs actually show Biden and Trump tied with indies. QED.

----The crosstabs show Biden up 9 in Washoe. Seems unlikely, but even if it is half that, it’s game over for Trump. He needs to be even in Washoe at worst.

----The poll has Biden by 12 in Clark (51-39) and Trump up by 27 in the rurals (60-33). Both seem reasonable.

----Two years ago, Dems here dunked on this NYT/Siena poll after the election because it showed Dean Heller up by 2 (dead heat) right before the election that saw Jacky Rosen win by 5. Many polls have a Dem bias when done in Nevada, but the internals here look pretty good (D +4 in reg, although self-ID). The Repubs better hope the survey doesn’t have a GOP bias this time!

I still prefer turnout data and models over polling numbers at this point, but this survey is not some goofy outlier. It’s right where the race has been in public polling for a long time.

More later….

Updated, 7:00 AM, 10/27/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types.

The Clark firewall dipped slightly to 70,000 after I downloaded the mail file this morning. The Dems lost 3,800 in in-person voting and gained some but not all of it back in mail, so they lost about 1,000 off the firewall. This never happens, although my caveat is the mail file seems to update under no known algorithm.

But we have to use the numbers we have, and these are the latest: Dems lead by 90,650 in Clark mail and GOP leads in in-person voting by 20,650.

About 530,000 Clark County voters have cast ballots, or 45 percent. That's about equal to the number of early/mail voters who cast ballots for the entire 2016 election. More than half of the eventual vote is in.

Let me show you what the Dems lead in Clark looks like compared to 2016 after 10 days:

You can see that despite the dip, the Dems are still well ahead of the 2016 pace, even if you extrapolate for the 200,000 new voters. As I have told you, the 10th and 11th days are traditionally the GOP’s strongest days in Clark County, so maybe that pattern is holding in 2020.

But I caution you: With the erratic mail-counting – I think it’s a staffing issue more than anything – and the uncertainty of Election Day turnout (that’s why I am tracking votes left), I can’t say for certain that any trend exists. You’d still rather be the Dems, but the smart ones on both sides know this is far from over.

The statewide Dem lead also will fall after the rurals are tallied. The Dems lost 1,400 off their lead in Washoe on Monday, and surely will lose a few thousand in the rurals after Monday’s totals. My estimate is that the statewide lead is now about 53K or so. I’ll have a more accurate number later.

So what does this mean?

I still think the Dems want to be well above 80,000 by the end of the week in Clark; if not, the race could be close. The Washoe number – Dems plus 6,000 – still looks good for them (it was 1,000 after early voting was complete in 2016), but the GOP took a chunk out of it Monday. At the same time in 2016, the Washoe lead was 2,300 voters; Washoe has about 15 percent more voters than four years ago, so the Dems are still well ahead of that pace even if you extrapolate.

It’s all about the indies, too, and if they break for the Dems in Washoe, Biden will win by a few points there, and that’s almost surely game over. But rural indies lean right, and if turnout grows there, the race could get interesting.

I don’t put much stock in polls right now – I prefer to look at the actual turnout – and this one that shows Biden by 9 isn’t even finished yet as you can see,. (Update: They decided to close out the poll on the 23rd despite what the site says.) But: If Biden is winning indies by 6, he will win Nevada.

I’ll put the latest numbers into the models once the SOS updates. More later….

Updated, 10:45 PM, 10/26/20

GOP beat Dems in in-person voting by 3.8K in Clark and 1.4K in Washoe, so net loss in urban Nevada of 5.2K for Dems.

We will see what the mail brings -- Dems back up or GOP on comeback trail.

Remember that 10th and 11th days usually good for GOP in Clark early voting. Maybe that pattern holds?

I'll update everything tomorrow, but good day for the Republicans...

Updated, 7:10 PM, 10/26/20

Update on the key congressional and state Senate races:

CD3:

108K have voted early

GOP+16,100

114.500 people have voted by mail

Dems+31,700

Overall: Dems+15,600

7-point lead (down a point from last update)

43 percent of active voters have voted, so about half the vote is in

CD4 (Clark part, which is 85 percent):

76K have voted early

GOP+5,300

78K voted by mail

D+27,750

Overall: D+22,450

15-point lead (down 2 points from last update)

40 percent of active voters in, so getting close to half the vote

SD5

Early:18.3K

GOP+2,2K

Mail: 18K

D+6K

Overall: D+3.8K

10 percent lead (down 2 points)

43 percent of active voters have voted, so about half the vote is in

SD6

Early: 17.8K

GOP+2.1K

Mail:20.5K

D+6.2K

Overall: D+4.1K

11-point lead (about the same)

45 percent of active voters have voted, so at least half the vote is in

So the pattern may begin of seeing these leads in these congressional and state Senate districts slightly shrink every day over the last week. If they don’t, the Dems almost surely will hold these seats because of the votes they banked.

One interesting thing: In the race for Joyce Woodhouse’s seat, early votes now exceed mail.

These are synecdoche for the election in Nevada: Dems have amassed large leads in ballots (yes, the indies are a wild card), so it’s only a question if the GOP can get enough votes out late to overcome them.

I’ll report on Clark and Washoe today when I get them. Remember that in a normal year, the 10th and 11th days of early voting are the GOP's best in Clark County vis a vis the Dems. Let's see what happens...

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 5:15 PM, 10/2620

For a change of pace, some voter registration news:

The Republicans almost kept pace with the Democrats in Nevada voter registration this month. They have lost about 2,500 to the Dems in Clark and 200 in Washoe, but made up all but 800 in the rurals (+1,900 for the GOP there).

There appear to be more than 1.8 million active voters in Nevada and the Dems have a nearly 90,000-voter lead. That is almost identiical to the spread on Election Day 2016.

But, remember two things:

--There are 250,000 or so new voters since 2016. So while the raw votes are the same, the percentage lead is reduced by about a percent.

---There are 75,000 inactive voters still on the Clark rolls, and that reduces the Dem lead by about 13,500. (So its not quite 1.8 million truly active voters.)

I count on those inactive voters not voting in all my models and reduce the reg figures accordingly.

Here's what the official numbers are:

County Dem IAP Libertarian NP Other Republican Total
Carson City 11,039 1,951 465 7,654 303 15,831 37,243
Churchill 2,618 807 177 3,244 102 8,774 15,722
Clark 520,600 55,392 11,307 313,135 14,092 364,934 1,279,460
Douglas 8,674 1,745 412 6,772 211 20,900 38,714
Elko 3,766 1,236 319 5,545 166 13,946 24,978
Esmeralda 80 45 10 89 7 324 555
Eureka 81 70 7 177 5 795 1,135
Humboldt 1,351 415 85 1,778 59 5,019 8,707
Lander 507 156 27 617 18 1,964 3,289
Lincoln 508 162 11 414 14 1,912 3,021
Lyon 7,969 2,388 515 8,822 339 19,918 39,951
Mineral 889 193 29 680 19 1,305 3,115
Nye 7,718 2,194 337 6,909 267 16,410 33,835
Pershing 541 128 25 563 11 1,539 2,807
Storey 799 212 54 735 28 1,776 3,604
Washoe 106,487 13,806 3,840 68,494 3,595 107,221 303,443
White Pine 1,058 294 41 982 30 2,820 5,225
Statewide 674,685 81,194 17,661 426,610 19,266 585,388 1,804,804

And here are the changes in October:

County Dem IAP Libertarian NP Other Republican Total
Carson City 153 39 7 159 12 214 584
Churchill 40 29 13 165 12 211 470
Clark 16,500 3,003 370 13,192 969 14,075 48,109
Douglas 133 37 11 174 24 318 697
Elko 103 48 17 340 38 518 1,064
Esmeralda 2 1 0 12 -1 8 22
Eureka -3 1 1 8 2 20 29
Humboldt 32 19 5 95 6 168 325
Lander 9 7 3 12 2 68 101
Lincoln -3 6 1 2 1 52 59
Lyon 124 52 12 355 30 471 1,044
Mineral 23 2 0 48 3 20 96
Nye 115 62 5 309 36 357 884
Pershing 8 1 1 23 1 37 71
Storey -2 0 1 16 3 11 29
Washoe 2,727 532 146 2,549 166 2,498 8,618
White Pine 0 14 1 26 7 77 125
Statewide 19,961 3,853 594 17,485 1,311 19,123 62,327

Sixty-two thousand new voters this month. And look at those indie numbers. They are going to tell the tale here, I'd guess.

The SOS just updated voter numbers again, but the Sunday Clark numbers are not in there yet.

More later...

Updated, 3:45PM, 10/26/20

Quick update with a reader suggestion (I love you all!) to show what the comparisons to the 2016 Clark firewall look like if it is extrapolated to account for the 200,000 additional registered voters -- a 20 percent increase. So I plotted a curve with a 20 percent increase, and:

So , as you can see, even if you account for the 20 percent increase in new voters, the 2020 lead is still well above what the Dems had at a comparable point in 2016. The question is whether with their new emphasis on mailing it in, they can get the late-week boost as they did four years ago.

Updated, 2:20PM, 10/26/20

SOS has updated with some rurals and I have added what we know about Washoe/Clark:

735K or thereabouts have voted; that’s 43 percent. (In 2016, total early/mail voting after two weeks was 780K, or about 54 percent of active voters; to match that this year, with a quarter of a million new statewide voters, that total would have to be 931K.)

If overall turnout is 80 percent – slightly above 2016 – that means more than half the vote is in. If it’s 85 percent, it’s almost exactly half.

The Dem firewall in Clark is 71K; the statewide lead is about 58K and that Washoe lead is just under 7.5K. GOP up in rurals by 20.5K. So not much change.

The Clark lead is 14 percent, slightly down from last update, still 3 points above voter reg; the Washoe lead is just under 5 percent, or 5 points above reg.

Here’s what the 2016/2020 Clark comparison looks like – remember that the lead is not as great as it might seem because of the 200K additional county voters, so 71K in 2020 would be about 57K in 2016. Still ahead of pace.

And here’s the early vote in Clark comparison:

So where are we now with half of the vote or so in?

Dems are doing slightly better than 2016 so far, with all the usual caveats – mailing it in, odd patterns, possible GOP Election Day surge.

Here is an updated Votes Left table:

26-Oct
County Total Left Turnout D left R left O left
Clark 1,204,068 709,968 41.0% 260,897 187,962 248,430
Washoe 303,443 149,443 50.8% 43,167 51,187 53,080
Lyon 39,951 26,349 34.0% 4,212 12,870 8,893
Douglas 38,714 20,585 46.8% 3,501 11,265 5,856
Carson 37,243 21,178 43.1% 5,177 8,891 7,019
Nye 33,835 20,970 38.0% 4,186 9,847 6,673
Elko 24,978 16,341 34.6% 1,938 8,775 5,299
Churchill 15,722 9,036 42.5% 1,161 4,844 2,870
Humboldt 8,707 5,739 34.1% 759 3,184 1,696
White Pine 5,225 3,175 39.2% 537 1,723 868
Storey 3,604 2,052 43.1% 354 1,002 698
Lander 3,289 1,751 46.8% 231 939 541
Mineral 3,115 1,905 38.8% 455 781 635
Lincoln 3,021 2,068 31.5% 291 1,338 413
Pershing 2,807 1,685 40.0% 263 892 503
Eureka 1,135 705 37.9% 41 822 165
Esmeralda 555 371 33.2% 54 215 95
Total 1,729,412 993,321 42.6% 327,224 306,537 343,734
% 57.4% 51.2% 54.6% 67.0%

Dem turnout (48.8 percent) is still a few points ahead of R turnout (45.4 percent). Remember Dems have about a 4-point statewide registration edge, so that’s why their percentage leads are larger now. They always expect the GOP to end up with a 1 or 2 percent turnout advantage, which is why both registering voters and banking early votes is their strategy every cycle. (The registration gap is large enough so that even with half the vote in and a 3.5-point turnout edge, the Dems still have more voters left who have not voted than the GOP.)

You can also see that two-thirds of indies have yet to vote. But not as many of them will if past is prologue – for instance in 2016, the mix was 40 percent Dems, 36 percent Rs and 24 percent indies.

Clark is at 67 percent of the turnout, just under its actual reg percentage; Washoe is at 21 percent, a few points above; and the rurals are at 12 percent, right at their reg number (although, as always, some have not been updated yet by the SOS). I still think the GOP wants to get the rurals up to 14 percent of the overall vote, and a slightly higher percentage of rural voters usually cast ballots on Election Day (33 percent vs. 30 percent for the rurals), so it’s possible.

More from Day 10 when I get it….

Updated, 6:20 AM, 10/26/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types.

Quick early morning update

No Washoe report from Sunday yet.

New Clark mail batch offset 1,300-vote loss by Dems in in-person Sunday, but not by much. Firewall is just under 71K. Possible big batch of mail will be put into file today, but definite slowdown over the weekend.

I'll have more later.

Updated, 10PM, 10/25/20

Clark posted. Very low turnout today, GOP wins by 1,300 votes. Clark firewall down below 69K before mail counted.

Updated, 9:45 PM, 10/25/20

The SOS updated this evening.

Not much change from what I told you -- I have a slightly more up to date mail ballot count in Clark, but close enough: 69K vs. 70K for Clark firewall, 55.6K vs. 57K for the statewide Dem lead because SOS had some new rural numbers.

I may update again this evening if Washoe and Clark in-person come in before I shut my eyes....

Updated, 3:45 PM, 10/25/20

Some new mail in Clark extends the Dem firewall to 70K. Statewide: 57K

I'd estimate close to half the vote is in.

Clark mail: Dems+85K

Clark in-person: GOP+15K

Remember that the Dems had a 73K firewall in 2016 by the end of early voting. But extrapolate that to 20,000 with 200K new Clark voters on the rolls and the analogous number would be 88K.

So the Dems keep building, but here’s the bottom line:

We are not that far from where we were at the same time in 2016, if you extrapolate for 2020 voter reg and turnout. Dems are still a bit above where they were four years ago in combined mail/early voting, but the patters are still difficult to nail down.

No more updates yet today from SOS, but:

I am going to add the new Clark mail for purposes of the models, and you notice a few things.

About 465K have voted in Clark. So that 70K firewall is a 15 percentage point lead, or about 4 points over the actual reg edge.

Statewide, the lead is about 8 percent of the 700K or so who have voted. That’s almost twice what the Dem reg lead is in percentage terms.

So the Dems have a substantial lead, even as they are not gaining quite as much in mail with every batch, erratic though the updates may be.

Here’s the Clark County lead now compared to 2016:

The difference between the 70K firewall right now and the 44K Clark firewall at the same time in 2016 is quite large, although, as I said, there were 200,000 fewer voters in 2016 in Southern Nevada. But even if you make it comparable, 2016’s lead would be 58,000, so it’s still a substantial increase.

If you are looking for patterns in early voting (join the club!), check out 2016 vs. 2020:

You can see there were 2016 weekend turnout dips, too, which may be counterintuitive but nevertheless is so. The upswing in turnout during the second week usually comes during the last five days, with it reaching a crescendo on the last day as both parties try to make a statement.

Will that happen this year – and will it be diminished by those three days after that until Election Day, when more mail will come in, and Nov. 3 turnout?

I still think the Dems, because of the additional voters this cycle and because Election Day could be larger than usual, will not be comfortable if they don’t have a lead well over 80K in Clark by Saturday. The Republicans just want to keep the margins down every day to slow the growth and hope a massive Election Day turnout can make up for the Democratic banked votes – in this way, this year is like many others.

I still think Washoe, where the Dems still have a substantial lead 7,500 ballots, or 5 percent in a county where the GOP has a slight lead), well over what they had in 2016 (it ended up at only 1K), could be the key. This is not your grandfather’s Washoe, and if Biden can do there what Hillary did (win by a little), it’s almost impossible for Trump to win.

---The latest on those six rurals with the significant populations (the other nine are pretty tiny) shows the GOP has a 17K lead there, and is leading 51 percent to 28 percent. It’s going to get much bigger than that, and I think we still have to calculate Trump winning by at least 60K in the rurals. (If that projection is wrong, it’s bye bye GOP.

---Finally, here’s what the model looks like with the new numbers plugged in if the election were held today:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45.

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

25-Oct 90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90-90-40/50 90-90-50/45 90-90-45/50
Biden 353,110 361,460 344,760 361,460 353,110
Trump 304,490 296,140 312,840 304,490 312,840
Rest 43,400 43,400 43,400 35,050 35,050
Biden 50% 52% 49% 52% 50%
Trump 43% 42% 45% 43% 45%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Victory margin 48,620 (Biden) 65,320 (Biden) 31,920 (Biden) 56,970 (Biden) 40,270 (Biden)

You can see the victory margins have not changed much, if you scroll down to see previous models; only the percentages have.

Even if Trump wins indies by 10 here and holds 90 percent of his base, he is still down by 4. You maybe should give some wiggle room for the bases, but they will be close give or take 2 or 3 points.

Bottom line: Biden is winning here right now, by at least 4 and perhaps by more. The Republicans have closed the percentage gap because even though the Dems have been increasing their raw vote lead, it has been diminishing relative to the number of votes that are in – i.e a 56,000 statewide lead is much different in percentage terms with 500,000 votes counted than a 57,000 statewide lead with 700,000 counted.

This week is going to be something to watch.

It’s far from over.

More when I have it….

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 9:15 AM, 10/25/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are after eight days of early voting:

Looks as if the SOS did update last night, but it did not pop through (for me at least). The latest -- and I am going to add Clark in-person/mail (which I now have):

Clark County Dems firewall: 66,000 (44,000 at this time in 2016)

Statewide Dems lead: 54,000 (31,000 at same time in 2016)

The percentage leads are slightly above 2016 -- remember there were 250,000 fewer voters four years ago:

Dem lead is 8 percentage points (43-35); it was 7 points at this time in 2016.

Clark lead is 15 points (46-31); it was the same four years ago at this time (47-32)

(Remember mail Monday could change this.)

So I predicted Saturday after the rurals were added, the statewide Dems lead would be about 55K. And...voila!

Not much change from Friday, although I always caution that the mail comes in batches and very little likely to be processed over the weekend. Here are some numbers/context -- and I will update charts and tables later (remember all my apple/orange caveats because the patterns are so different this year):

Total voted: 670K (just under 40 percent of active voters)

For contrast, 780,000 cast ballots by early/mail voting for the entire election in 2016. That was more than two-thirds of the vote. A comparable number this year would probably be about 1 million voters (depends, of course, on turnout).

Raw vote leads:

Clark: Dems+66K

Washoe: Dems+8K

Rurals: Rs+20K

Percentage of turnout:

Clark: 67 percent (2.5 points under actual)

Washoe: 21 percent (3 points above)

Rurals: 12 percent (.5 points under)

Still more rurals to come in, but two thing:

No. 1 -- Percentage leads right now are not that much different from same point in 2016. Caveat: Mail delay.

No. 2 -- I still think Dems want to be well over 80K in Clark and 54K statewide in their leads to feel confident going into Election Day, especially when R turnout may be higher than usual.

One smart reader reminds me that yet another difference this year is that after early voting ends Friday, mail could still be pouring in from Dems over the weekend and into Election Day. Might add to whatever lead they have after Friday. Luckily, I can track that....

Still a lot of time left. More later when I have it.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 7 PM, 10/24/20

No SOS update today -- I feel like a man without nourishment -- so can't definitively update statewide outlook with rural numbers.

I did get a deeper Clark breakdown and the underlying fundamentals for the Republicans in key down-ticket races are shaky right now. Let me emphasize: A lot of people have voted in Clark County (426,000, including 231,000 by mail and 195,000 in seven days of early voting), at least 40 percent and perhaps closer to half of all who will vote this cycle in Southern Nevada. But there are still 800,000 or so Clark County active voters who have still not voted, so nothing is set in stone.

But, consider these numbers underneath the 67K-ballot firewall the Dems have in Clark:

CD3 (Lee): D+16K, down slightly from last update. 8-point lead. About 40 percent of the vote is in.

CD4 (Clark part) (Horsford): D+22K, slightly up from last update. 17-point lead. Also close to 40 percent in.

SD5 (Woodhouse): D+3.7K, slightly higher than last update. 12-point lead. Again, about 40 percent in.

SD6(Cannizzaro): D+3.7K, slight decrease. 11-point lead. More than 40 percent of the vote is in.

The story is the same in nearly every key Assembly district, too: Republicans are building up sizable margins in early voting, but they are getting overwhelmed by the mail numbers. You can see the gap slowly tightening in the amount of mail vs. the early numbers, but two questions are fundamental to this election:

No. 1 -- Can the Dems keep doing this in the email?

No. 2 -- Will there be enough votes left on Election Day for the GOP to catch up?

Unless there is more crossover going towards the GOP than usual in Nevada, from top to bottom, if both parties get out their voters, the GOP will always lose here. But if they can hold their own in Week 2 of early/mail voting and win Election Day by a lot, they can still win almost any of these races from top to bottom.

I may update later with Clark and Washoe if they report....

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 8:30 AM, 10/24/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are:

Clark County firewall: 67,000 Dems lead (includes returned mail)

That’s a 7K increase since Friday morning’s update. Much more mail was processed in Clark on Friday and again overwhelmed the GOP advantage in early voting. To wit:

Dem mail advantage in Clark: 81,000

GOP early voting advantage: 14,000

So one week of early voting is in the books, and here’s where we are – caveat that rural numbers are not in yet from Friday, and those almost certainly will reduce the Dem lead by a few thousand ballots:

The Clark firewall for the Dems is way ahead of the pace for the first week in 2016 – 27,000 ballots bigger, or two-thirds. They are almost where they were at the end of the two weeks in 2016, which was 73,000. I still think with 200,000 more voters on the rolls, the fat lady won’t start singing unless the Dems get well above 80,000.

For Washoe, where Dems lead by 8,300, I’ll repeat what I said last night: At the end of a week in Washoe in 2016, the Dems had a 2,500-vote lead. They are triple that pace this year. In 2016, after two weeks, the lead was 1,000.

An urban Nevada lead of more than 75,000 at this points is formidable. After the rurals come in, that means the statewide lead is about 55K or so — that's 10K above where it was at the end of early voting in 2016 and about where the Dems would want it to be this cycle because of all of the new voters.

No matter what happens in the rurals, the GOP needs to reverse this trend in the urbans or it is sayonara.

Still plenty of time and plenty of votes to go – I’d guess we have about 35-40 percent in now after all votes are tallied from Friday. But the chart below shows you what is happening:

A couple of things: I rounded for both years for convenience. Also, the mail for this cycle is coming in batches and reporting depends on how often staff can get ballots entered into the system. The totals can be different depending on when you download the mail file, and the dates on the ballots received may be a little off because of when they were uploaded.

You can see that another data guy, John Samuelsen, has the trend slightly different but the stark differences (and of course where we are right now) are the same. (His research on age of who has voted is worth noting – his findings mirror other places where a lot of young people are voting already.)

Not sure if SOS will update over the weekend, but I will let you know.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 10:25 PM, 10/23/20

GOP won Clark by 3,500 in early voting for the third straight day -- won by 3,000 on Tuesday. Don't have mail yet.

GOP won Washoe by 1,800, but lost mail so gained only 700 on Dems and trail by 8,300.

Perspective: So net loss of 4,200 today in urban Nevada by Dems, but no Clark mail counted yet. And, of course, we know the Dems will lose by thousands in rural Nevada today.

At this time in 2016, after one week of early voting, the statewide Dem lead was 28,500. It's going to be significantly higher than that this year, probably in the high 40s. It ended at 45K in 2016.

At this time in 2016, the Clark Dem firewall was about 40,000 votes. This year: About 60,000. It ended at 73,000 after two weeks in Clark four years ago.

At the end of a week in Washoe in 2016, the Dems had a 2,500-vote lead. They are triple that pace this year. In 2016, after two weeks, the lead was 1,000.

But I repeat what I have been saying: We have never seen an election like this with the GOP winning early voting by these margins every day and the Dems mailing it in as no party ever has. It's much less predictable, and the comparisons to 2016 may not be apt.

Soon we will know if patterns are really patterns. Still rather be the Dems with those large leads, but this is far from over.

Watch this space.

Updated, 6:50 PM, 10/23/20

So let’s dive into the latest numbers and show you what they mean:

After six days in 2016, the Democratic lead statewide was 26,000. It is more than twice that now (56K).

I still think the Dems would want to be at 54,000 a week from today. That’s 2,000 under where they are now.

In Clark after six days in 2016, the number was 36,000 for the Dems, on their way to 73,000. They are at 63,000 now and probably want to be well over 80,000 by the end of early voting.

The GOP goal is to erode those leads over the next week. They will almost surely win early voting every day. If they don’t, that is a blue flag.

Turnout was 23 percent after six days in 2016; it is 29 percent this year. (It ended up being 77 percent four years ago; I expect it to be well above 80 percent this year, maybe even 85 percent.)

There have been 304,000 mail ballots returned so far. The Dems are up, 53 percent to 24 percent, or 86,000 ballots. In 2016, fewer than 80,000 mail ballots were returned for the entire election.

Yes, a bit of a different year, folks.

The percentages of the overall turnout:

Clark: 64 percent, almost 6 percentage points under its actual percentage of active voters.

Washoe: 22 percent, about 4.5 points above its reg numbers.

Rurals: 14 percent, about 1.5 points above its actual numbers.

----Not much has changed in the model of voters who have cast ballots, with the usual assumptions. Trump is losing Nevada right now by double digits or close to it unless something very weird is happening.

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45.

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

23-Oct 90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90/90/40-50 90/90/50-45 90/90/45-50
Biden 266,476 272,054 260,899 272,054 266,476
Trump 218,505 212,927 224,083 218,505 224,083
Rest 31,397 31,397 31,397 25,819 25,819
Biden 52% 53% 51% 53% 52%
Trump 42% 41% 43% 42% 43%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Victory margin 47,971 (Biden) 59,127 (Biden) 36,816 (Biden) 53,549 (Biden) 42,394 (Biden)

----The SOS made some adjustments to the Washoe/Carson counts after a data entry error that affected yesterday’s chart of Votes Left. You will see some of those changes below.

The Democrats' turnout edge remains above 5 percent – 35.9 percent to 30.8 percent. Thirty percent of active voters have cast ballots now. If you figure about 1.5 million Nevadans will vote, that means more than a third of the eventual electorate has cast ballots.

23-Oct
County Total Votes left Turnout D left R left O left
Clark 1,200,151 869,348 27.6% 325,778 245,143 289,863
Washoe 302,420 189,566 37.3% 57,048 66,834 64,694
Lyon 39,872 28,346 28.9% 4,625 14,063 9,363
Douglas 38,683 22,764 41.2% 3,951 12,612 6,083
Carson 37,221 23,915 35.7% 5,926 10,253 7,667
Nye 33,740 25,128 25.5% 5,097 12,255 7,607
Elko 24,889 17,264 30.6% 2,158 9,308 5,558
Churchill 15,659 10,078 35.6% 1,311 5,581 3,088
Humboldt 8,676 6,300 27.4% 847 3,560 1,824
White Pine 5,213 3,430 34.2% 582 1,892 921
Storey 3,606 2,220 38.4% 383 1,107 730
Lander 3,278 2,041 37.7% 260 1,154 598
Mineral 3,101 2,040 34.2% 487 852 681
Lincoln 3,013 2,227 26.1% 308 1,456 445
Pershing 2,799 1,822 34.9% 287 986 530
Eureka 1,132 740 34.6% 42 847 177
Esmeralda 551 397 27.9% 56 236 102
Total 1,724,004 1,207,626 30.0% 409,146 388,139 399,931
% 70.0% 64.1% 69.2% 78.0%

This chart will become more and more important as we get towards the end to see how many votes are left for Election Day. You can see that despite their turnout advantage, the Dems still have more voters left than the GOP, which likely will have a significant edge on Election Day.

----Some deep dives based on latest granular Clark data:

CD3: D+18K. 10-point lead. A third have voted.

CD4 (Clark part): D+21K. 18-point lead. About 31 percent have voted.

SD5: D+3.5K. 13-point lead. Just under a third have voted.

SD6: D+3.9K. 13-point lead. About 37 percent have voted.

So the GOP needs help in the last week of early voting in all of these places, and maybe in Scott Hammond’s district, too.

So that’s where we are on the eve of the second week of early voting, folks. The Democrats continue to look good, but the Republicans are hopeful they can cut into these leads. They won’t be able to do it all on Election Day, so they will want to make progress in the next seven days. We will know a lot more after this weekend’s voting where we are headed.

Updated, 3:30 PM, 10/23/20

Quick update because of crazy day, friends.

I spent a good part of my day waiting for the good, hardworking folks at the SOS to fix an obvious data entry error (been there, done that) that showed an inaccurate count for Washoe. I'll do another post later, but here are the latest numbers (minus some rural updates that will reduce the Dem advantage):

Statewide Dem lead: 56K. That's 45 percent to 34 percent. The Dems voter reg lead in Nevada is 4 percent.

Clark: 63K Dems lead

Washoe: 9K Dems lead

Rurals: 16K GOP lead

Nearly 30 percent of actiuve voters have cast ballots.

If you want to know why the GOP sued in Clark over mail ballots: The Dems lead 108,000 to 38,000.

More later with more context, comparisons, turn of phrase or two....

Updated, 7:45 AM, 10/23/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are:

Clark firewall: 60,000 Dems lead (includes returned mail)

I want to be conservative here, as usual, so first let me say that it appears very little mail was processed in Clark or Washoe on Thursday. It’s possible that there has been a dramatic slowdown, although that seems unlikely.

However, I can only use the data I have, and it shows the Dems have a just under 70,000-ballot lead in mail in Clark and the GOP has about a 10,000-ballot lead in early voting.

In Washoe, the Dem lead in mail is 17,000 and the GOP lead in early voting is about 8,000, so the Dems lead there by 9,000 votes.

That’s a combined 69,000-vote lead in urban Nevada for the Democrats, which is still robust. But the GOP gained in both areas on Thursday because so little mail was processed, and it had been overwhelmingly favoring the Democrats.

Once the rural vote comes in for Thursday, I would guess the Dems statewide lead could be down to 50,000 or so.

With the staggered reporting of mail and in-person, and the different times the rurals and urbans report, it is difficult to get a handle on it.

Bottom line: If the Dems have about a 50K lead, that is still greater than the 45,000-ballot lead they had at the end of 2016 voting, although less than an adjusted lead of 54,000 they would need to match it, considering all of the new voters on the rolls since four years ago.

The real question as we head into the last day of the first week of early voting is whether the GOP can continue to subtract from the Dem lead every day or whether enough mail votes will come in to help the Dems build on the votes they have already banked. If the GOP does continue to subtract from the Dems lead for the next week, this is going to be very close.

If there is any pattern developing – and because this year is so different, I am cautious – the last four days of early voting show the Dems losing ground every day, getting about 9,000 or 10,000 votes a day with the GOP at 12,000 or 13,000. Been pretty steady since Monday, as you can see.

Last day of the first week (of two) of early voting today! I’m here for you all, tired but operating on adrenaline and caffeine.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 10:15 PM, 10/22/20

Republicans won in-person voting again in Washoe and Clark -- by about 1,300 in Washoe and 3,600 in Clark. So a net gain of about 5K in urban Nevada.

I don't have new mail numbers for Clark and the Washoe mail numbers show only about 80 ballots counted, which is odd but possible.

So:

Washoe lead for Dems is down to 9,000. It was 1,000 at the end of two weeks of early voting in 2016, when Clinton won by 2,700 votes there.

Before the latest mail is tallied in Clark, that means the firewall is reduced to about 56K or so. I think the Dems want it to be over 80K before Election Day.

Today's in-person numbers:

Clark:

D - 9,046

R - 12,602

O - 6,487

Washoe:

D - 1,575

R - 2,833

O - 1,222

So what does this mean on the eve of the last day of the first week of early voting?

We still don't have clarity, or even definitive trends in this upside-down year after six days of early voting -- other than the Dems banking tens of thousands of mail votes and the GOP winning early voting the last few days and preventing a Dem runaway.

I'll say it again: This is far from over. Almost a third of the vote is probably in or maybe a bit more, but we just don't know if this pattern will continue.

The Democrats had a 36,000-ballot lead in Clark at this time in 2016 and it would double by the end of early voting. So they are well ahead of that pace so far, but the voting patterns are so different because so many Dems are -- wait for it again -- mailing it in, and the GOP is winning the early vote day after day.

I have been watching this stuff for a long time, as have others, and I don't know anyone who feels confident in any trends or patterns. My mantra this year remains the same:

Need. More. Data.

See y'all tomorrow.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 4:20 PM, 10/22/20

Those charts I promised:

Votes Left:

22-Oct
County Total Left Turnout D R O
Clark 1,199,012 926,279 22.7% 350,073 265,065 303,518
Washoe 302,259 183,827 39.2% 54,901 66,090 62,007
Lyon 39,837 28,311 28.9% 4,625 14,063 9,363
Douglas 38,667 25,006 35.3% 4,466 13,968 6,470
Carson 37,199 19,817 46.7% 5,096 8,090 6,584
Nye 33,704 25,832 23.4% 5,194 12,755 7,750
Elko 24,831 19,426 21.8% 2,510 10,835 5,899
Churchill 15,640 10,941 30.0% 1,454 6,136 3,272
Humboldt 8,663 6,795 21.6% 926 3,888 1,925
White Pine 5,211 3,581 31.3% 610 1,985 953
Storey 3,603 2,328 35.4% 408 1,162 761
Lander 3,271 2,186 33.2% 282 1,254 628
Mineral 3,100 2,136 31.1% 510 902 705
Lincoln 3,009 2,305 23.4% 349 1,483 459
Pershing 2,794 1,904 31.9% 298 1,047 545
Eureka 1,126 776 31.1% 49 871 188
Esmeralda 551 506 8.2% 56 236 102
Total 1,722,477 1,261,956 26.7% 431,807 409,830 411,129
% 73.3% 67.6% 73.0% 80.1%

I should note that the votes left divided by party will not quite add up to the aggregate votes left because counties have been adding voters all along and I don't have the partisan breakdowns. (This will change on Nov. 1 when the SOS reports.) But they are close.

So about a third of Dems have voted, and the Dems have a 5.4 percent turnout edge.

And putting the latest numbers into the models -- still looks ugly for Trump:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45.

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

22-Oct 90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90/90/40-50 90/90/50-45 90/90/45-50
Biden 239,948 244,966 234,930 244,966 239,948
Trump 192,633 187,615 197,651 192,633 197,651
Rest 28,049 28,049 28,049 23,032 23,032
Biden 52% 53% 51% 53% 52%
Trump 42% 41% 43% 42% 43%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Victory margin 47,315 (Biden) 57,351 (Biden) 37,279 (Biden) 52,333 (Biden) 42,297 (Biden)

More later....

Updated, 2: 50 PM, 10/22/20

Washoe has been updated, and most of the rurals are in (Nye, Lyon and Elko are not, and they would reduce Dem lead a bit more):

Dem lead now at 55K statewide. Note: This includes all returned mail ballots, not all of which have been verified (but most will be).

More than a quarter of active voters (460,630) have cast ballots, which means we are probably approaching a third of the vote being in. Nearly 40 percent of active voters in Washoe are in! It's possible that nearly half of those who are going to vote in Washoe have voted.

Revised with new numbers (still lagging almost 30K of Clark mail):

Percentage of turnout:

Clark: 59 percent, which is about 10 points below what it will be if it's close to 2016

Washoe: 26 percent (8 percent higher than 2016)

Rurals: 15 percent (2.5 percent higher than 2016)

The GOP lead in the rurals is now up to 49 percent to 30 percent -- and it will get higher (already is probably 20-plus percentage points once Nye and Elko are added). Raw ballot lead there is 14K. (Reminder: Trump won the rurals by 58K in '16.)

Tied up this afternoon, but will try to update those two tables from Wednesday very soon....

Updated, 12:30 PM, 10/22/20

The SOS has updated, sans some rurals and Clark/Washoe early/mail from Wednesday and (so add a few thousand votes for the Dems to these totals depending on when they updated the mail number). Here’s where we are:

Statewide: Dems have a 59,500-ballot lead (it’ll be above 60K once the Clark/Washoe number is updated). That’s 14 percent. The Dem voter reg advantage is 4 percent, so they are 10 percent above that.

Note: These numbers are skewed a bit by the lack of rural reporting. Once they report, it will reduce the Dem statewide lead by a few thousand votes.

The statewide lead at the end of early voting in 2016 was 45,000; after five days it was 25,000; it’s more than double that this year. If you adjust for all of the new voters, the analogous number this year for the lead after two weeks would be 54,000.

So the Dems are ahead right now (59,500) of where they would want to be to match 2016 by the end of early voting (54,000) a week from tomorrow. The GOP believes it can win the vote statewide from now on, which would make the margin manageable, theoretically. So it ain’t over…

I think the adjusted goals for the Dems to feel comfortable going into Election Day are a 54,000 statewide lead and about 88,000 in Clark. Only caveat here is if the Washoe lead stays pretty large – it was Dems +1,000 at the end of early voting in 2016 and is 11,000 now) – then the Clark firewall does not have to be as large as 88K.

The GOP won early voting by 2K in Washoe and 3,600 in Clark on Wednesday. The Washoe site finally updated, and it appears the GOP gained about 500 votes. If the Republicans keep up that pace in urban early voting, and mail continues to slow, they will cut into the Dem lead. If.

The preliminary totals (I used the updated Washoe numbers) before the late afternoon update:

Turnout: 427K, or 24 percent

Clark: Dems +58K (actually closer to 63K when new mail/early is counted)

Washoe: Dems +10K

Rurals: GOP +9K

Percentage of turnout:

Clark: 64 percent (now only 5 percent below what it was in 2016 election overall)

Washoe: 22 percent (4 percent higher than 2016)

Rurals: 14 percent (1.5 percent higher than 2016)

If the rurals are 14 percent of the vote by the end of the election, that means Trump could win there by a significantly higher number than his 58K victory in 2016.

Hope to have more complete numbers later today and will update tables I posted Wednesday.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 9 AM, 10/22/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are:

Clark firewall: 63,000 Dems lead (includes returned mail)

Statewide: No Washoe numbers from Wednesday yet (I am told they are posting any minute), so will update when they show up (my guess is once Washoe/rurals come in, it will be close to 60K)

I see a lot of irrational Democratic exuberance (sorry, Alan) on Twitter about the numbers, albeit not from Dems who get it and are cautious. Let me be blunt: This is far from over.

Sure, you’d rather be the Dems, who, as usual, are banking votes before Election Day, although with a different voting method (mail) this cycle.  But even though the lead is quite large – the firewall is double what it was in 2016 in Clark after five days and only 10,000 short of what it ended as after two weeks in ‘16, consider:

In 2016, there were about 1 million voters in Clark County. So a 73K lead was 7.3 percent of those voters. In 2020, there are about 1.2 million voters, and 7.3 percent of that number is 87,600.

I am not so sure that the Dems will be confident with a 73K lead going into Election Day this year, even though it was in the 70K neighborhood the last two presidential cycles when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton won. The caveat here is Washoe, where the Dems have done well enough (Clinton won by a point) to really hurt the GOP statewide.

I am sure smart Dems know that while they look good right now, there are nine days left of early voting and if the mail slows down (it already has, although it continues to more than make up for the GOP in-person leads every day, more than doubling it Wednesday), the Republicans could keep the firewall number at a level that gives them a shot.

Rural turnout – and margins – also could still be important. I’ll have more on that later. It could help the GOP reduce the Dem margins day by day.

About 330,000 voters in Clark have cast ballots so far, which is more than a quarter of active voters and may be close to a third of the turnout in Southern Nevada once all is said and done.

The real question, as it always is in presidential cycles here, is this: Can the Dems bank enough votes before Election Day so that Nov. 3 can’t change the outcome in the presidential contest? They did that in the last three cycles, but this is a different year with all the mail (and the GOP threatening to sue over it) and we don’t know if Election Day, usually a third of the vote, will be much larger this cycle and/or a big win for the GOP.

I’ll know more when I have…more data.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 11 PM, 10/21/20

GOP won the day in Clark early voting again, with numbers not so different from Tuesday:

D -- 9,323

R -- 12,899

O -- 6,338

So a 3,600-vote GOP win cuts into the 60K Clark Democratic firewall, pending mail ballot tabulating. It was 33K at this point in 2016.

Until the morrow...

Updated, 4:30 PM, 10/21/20

I am going to use the latest SOS update to show you where we are officially. This will be very conservative, i.e. not using the returned mail ballots but only the accepted ones. (This shaves 10K off the Clark County firewall, leaving it at 50K and not 60K because not all of those returned ballots have been accepted for counting yet, although most will be.)

So:

20 percent of active voters have cast ballots. If turnout is 80 percent, a quarter of the vote is in. If it’s 90 percent, 22 percent is in.

The Dems have a 55,000-ballot statewide lead under this conservative scenario. That’s 46 percent to 32 percent.

Every county but the biggest (Clark) and the smallest (Esmeralda) are over 20 percent now. Clark is at 16 percent under this snapshot.

What do these numbers mean?

A few scenarios if we stopped and the election were held right now with these numbers:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45.

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

21-Oct 90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90/90/40-50 90/90/50-45 90/90/45-50
Biden 190,225 194,096 186,354 194,096 190,225
Trump 147,361 143,490 151,231 147,361 151,231
Rest 21,842 21,842 21,842 17,971 17,971
Biden 53% 54% 52% 54% 53%
Trump 41% 40% 42% 41% 42%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Victory margin 42,865 50,606 35,123 46,736 38,994

So you can see even under the most favorable scenarios, Trump is losing by double digits in Nevada. You see the work Team Trump has to do, too, although there is still time to change this dynamic.

I have also updated the Votes Left table to show you what is happening:

County Total Left Turnout D R O
Clark 1,197,860 992,818 17.1% 380,802 286,708 318,837
Washoe 302,142 206,464 31.7% 63,307 74,991 67,454
Lyon 39,750 31,356 21.1% 5,374 15,750 10,059
Douglas 38,651 27,391 29.1% 5,048 15,339 6,918
Carson 37,159 23,100 37.8% 6,019 9,804 7,270
Nye 33,668 25,796 23.4% 5,194 12,755 7,750
Elko 24,801 19,396 21.8% 2,510 10,835 5,899
Churchill 15,605 11,552 26.0% 1,544 6,583 3,381
Humboldt 8,640 6,772 21.6% 926 3,888 1,925
White Pine 5,189 3,855 25.7% 679 2,158 1,007
Storey 3,598 2,484 31.0% 448 1,249 795
Lander 3,259 2,312 29.1% 298 1,356 648
Mineral 3,091 2,289 25.9% 563 983 733
Lincoln 3,000 2,390 20.3% 370 1,534 481
Pershing 2,791 2,124 23.9% 345 1,185 583
Eureka 1,124 846 24.7% 57 925 198
Esmeralda 548 503 8.2% 71 299 133
Total 1,720,876 1,361,448 20.9% 473,555 446,342 434,071
% 79.1% 74.1% 79.6% 84.6%

Dems have a 5.5 percent turnout advantage (25.9 - 21.4); because of their registration advantage, they still have more voters left out there. In Clark, which continues to lag in turnout compared to the other counties, the Dems have 100K more voters left than the GOP.

In the six rural counties that really matter, the ones with significant populations, the Rs now have a 47 percent to 31 percent lead. Even though the “others” in those counties will substantially break for the GOP, that is not overwhelming. It could get there, though.

There are still 1.4 million eligible voters who have not cast ballots. It's an unpredictable year. Nothing conclusive yet!

----One quick note to say that the big numbers in Clark for Dems are, of course, trickling down. Even though the GOP is winning early voting in key districts, the Dem mail turnout is overwhelming (3 to 1) in the two key congressional districts and those two key state Senate districts (3 to 1).

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 12:25 PM, 10/21/20

The news for the GOP looked promising in both urban areas Tuesday with in-person voting counts. But the updated mail counts paint a grim picture after four days of early voting. The facts:

The updated SOS page does not have the most current Clark numbers on returned ballots – I didn’t believe reports I was getting so I checked the cumulative file myself:

Ds – 93.5K

Rs – 32K

O – 37K

So a 61.5K lead in returned ballots (remember some of those will be rejected, but the lead won’t change much). Early voting is about even between the parties so far, so in essence the Clark firewall is more than twice what it was at this time in 2016 — and within 12K of what the final firewall was at the end of early voting.

The different ways mail ballots are counted is frustrating when trying to get a clear picture, but the data file does not lie, and again, I checked it myself. (Even the SOS has the firewall in Clark at 50K, which is large for this point. The difference probably is as simple as when they pulled the Clark ballot file. It is constantly updating.)

The Dem lead in Washoe is now 11K, so the overall urban lead for Dems is 72.5K.

The rurals are starting to come in, and the GOP is, as expected, starting to pile up votes there. The SOS shows it at about a 9K lead for the GOP now in rural Nevada.

So the statewide Dem lead is 63,500. At the end of early voting in 2016, it was 45,000.

(The SOS, which does not have the updated Clark mail numbers, has it at 51,000, which is still a 14 percent edge. It’s actually larger than that. Pro tip: Trust me above all on numbers! I’m obsessed enough to always have the most up-to-date ones. And I always confirm and reconfirm.)

The Dems are ahead by more than 2 to 1 in mail. Nearly twice as many people have voted by mail as they have in-person, where the GOP leads by 13,000 votes statewide.

More than a fifth of the people who are going to cast ballots in this election have voted. It might be closer to a quarter of the vote, depending how high turnout is.

And I want to repeat again, and probably not for the last time: We don’t really know yet where this is going. Maybe two-thirds will vote before Election Day, per usual, just with a different mix of methods (mail more than in-person). Maybe not. And we don’t know if this pattern – does four days a pattern make? – will hold for the full fortnight.

Luckily, you have me to track it.

I’ll have some charts and models later, if I can.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 7:45 AM, 10/21/2020

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are with the data I have – and I am hampered by a lack of mail ballot returns from Clark and rural early/mail numbers:

Clark Dem firewall: 41,000

Washoe Dem lead: 11,000

Statewide Dem lead: 48,000 (estimated after rurals come in)

Remember these numbers will change once I get more, later this morning, I hope. This is the best available data I have.

----Continue to keep in mind that this is an upside-down year – even in the red wave of 2014, the Republicans did not win Clark the way they had prior in the last two days in early voting. On the other hand, the Dems have never swamped the GOP in mail the way they have this cycle, which has much more than offset the in-person losses.

So far.

The mail ballots seem to have slowed down, but it’s unclear if it’s just a tabulation slowdown or an actual change in volume. Again, we will know more later.

----I am amused by those who incessantly hector me on Twitter to tell them WHAT THIS MEANS. I am always conservative in this effort, as those of you know who have read this blog in past cycles. I make predictions when I feel confident – we are far from that moment, especially in this upside-down year where nothing is as it was before.

One of the key questions is whether two-thirds of Nevadans will still vote before Election Day, as they usually do, but perhaps with a different mix of methods – i.e., many more mail ballots than usual. Here’s a comparison:

Through Day 4 in 2016, 230,000, or 16 percent, had voted early or by mail.

The raw vote turnout number is significantly higher this year (waiting for more data to see how large it is), but the percentage of voters who have cast ballots is very similar. The Clark Dem firewall is a little less than twice what it was at this time in 2016, but this year, instead of gradually adding to it, the pattern (so far) has been for the GOP to nibble away at it in early voting.

----One thing seems clear: The GOP will need to keep winning early voting to be competitive here. We are only four days in, and the in-person numbers in Clark are close. But in both urban counties, the raw vote leads for the Dems are much larger than they were at comparable times in 2016 – that’s why the GOP needs to whittle away at that every day and hope the mail volume decreases.

Here’s the latest 2016/2020 comparison on early voting in Clark, and you can see the last two days were pretty similar:

Two days does not a pattern make. But the last two days, the Dems have been in the neighborhood of 9-10,000 ballots and the GOP in the ballpark of 12-13,000. If – IF – that were to continue for the next 10 days, that would be a net gain of as much as 30,000 for the GOP. It could be offset by mail votes, but that’s also unclear right now.

----One big difference this year is that Clark turnout relative to the rest of the state is way down – I showed that in an earlier post. Washoe turnout is way up – about a third of the vote has been cast there already, (even if the turnout turns out to be super-high overall). Clark is about 12 points lower than what its usual percentage of the turnout is – that is an opportunity for both parties, but more so for the Democrats because of their huge registration lead.

If you are wondering if there is a difference between Election Day turnout in the three areas of the state, here’s what it was in 2016:

Clark: 233K (30 percent)

Washoe: 62K (23 percent)

Rurals: 49.5K (33 percent)

----The importance and predictability of the Clark firewall is worth a comparison, too: When it was 73,000 in 2016, when the first numbers popped up on Election Night, a count of all those early/mail ballots, Clinton’s lead in Clark was 64,000. So it is pretty predictive. That lead slowly grew to 82,000, which was more than enough to offset Trump’s 58,000-vote win in rural Nevada.

----Finally, there was a poll released this AM that showed Biden up 9 in Nevada. I don’t like the party breakdown – 37-27, Ds – and the Hispanic number (21 percent) seems a tad high. But even if you weight it correctly, Biden is still up 6 here. I take all polling with a grain of salt, especially once I have data to analyze, but I report that for what it’s worth because it is in line with most other reliable polls.

More when I have it…. 

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 6 AM, 10/21/2020

Clark posted Tuesday in-person voting overnight (still waiting for mail):

D -- 10,512

R -- 13,568

O -- 6,211

GOP pushes Dem firewall in Clark down towards 40K, but caveat is I have not seen a mail update yet.

I'll do another post later this morning.

Updated, 11:25 PM, 10/20/20

Clark not in yet, and I am sleepy, so:

Washoe early vote:

D - 2,264

R - 4,136

O - 1,609

Washoe mail:

D - 1,411

R - 619

O - 518

Washoe cumulative mail/early so far:

D - 38,787

R - 28,010

O - 17,904

So: Net gain of 1,080 for the GOP; Dem lead now at 10,777. The Democratic lead in Washoe after four days of early voting in 2016 was 3,000.

28 percent of active voters (84,701) have cast ballots, which probably means about a third of the Washoe vote is in.

Pace of mail has slowed, early vote has picked up. Let's see if that trend, which should help the GOP, continues.

Reminder that at end of early voting in 2016, Dems had a 1,000-vote lead in Washoe and Clinton won by 2,700 votes.

More tomorrow.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 2:30 PM, 10/20/20

Minor SOS update with rurals reduced the Dem lead a bit:

281K total ballots cast: 16 percent

Mail: Dems+54K

In-person: GOP+7K

Statewide Dem lead is 47K or 48-31.

More detail later....

Updated, 12:15 PM, 10/20/20

The SOS has updated both of its key pages, here and here. Here’s what we know:

----About 280,000 ballots have been cast – this includes all returned mail and in-person. That’s nearly 16 percent of active voters. This does not include an update on mail from Clark County, though. The Democrats have a 48,000 raw ballot lead in the state, or 17 points. The percentage lead is dropping (hello, rurals and in-person voting!), but the raw ballot lead is increasing. It was 45,000 after two weeks in 2016.

----The Clark firewall is at 44,500 – it was 73,000 after two weeks of early voting in ’16.

----In 2016, Clark was 69.5 percent of the vote, Washoe was 18 percent and the rurals were 12.5 percent. Right now, those numbers: Clark, 56 percent; Washoe, 28 percent; rurals, 16 percent. So Clark is way underrepresented now if turnout is comparable to 2016 – or other years. And Washoe, where nearly a third of those who are going to vote may have voted already, is way overrepresented. Keep an eye on Clark as its percentage grows – if the Dems keep crushing it in mail in Clark and the GOP can’t make up for it in early voting, the lead will become very large. But the large number of voters also gives the GOP an opportunity — through early voting and/or on Election Day — to cut into the margin.

----Mail ballots returned compared to early voting is 2 to 1. (It’s also 2 to 1, Dems over Repubs.) This never happens, so it’s a very different pattern. How different? In 2016, it was early voting by a 9 to 1 margin. Just so you know, the mail ballots accepted for counting – those not awaiting signature verification or curing – have about the same percentages between Ds and Rs.

----Tale of two states:

Urban Nevada = Dems +54K

Rural Nevada = Rs +6K

----It’s still unclear how much of the total vote will be eaten up before Election Day. It’s usually two-thirds, but with the Dems mailing it in and the GOP wedded to in-person voting, that may change. It may be part of the reason Clark is so far down – Republicans usually win or do very well on Election Day. They may need a landslide this year, which could happen if many wait until Nov. 3 to vote.

----The percentage of non-major-party voters is about 22 percent. In 2016 at the end of the election, that number was 24 percent.

Quick look at key Clark races down-ballot – remember these do not include a day of early voting/mail tabulation:

CD3: Rs +1,500 in early voting; Ds +16,000 in mail.

CD4 (Clark part): Ds +1,600 in early voting: Ds +14,000 in mail.

SD5: Rs +1,500 in early voting; Ds +3,000 in mail

SD6: Ds +4 in early voting; Ds +3,200 in mail.

So the Ds have big leads in all of these, thanks to the mail ballots.

Still tons of votes left – low double digits in voters turned out so far – so nothing is set in stone. But I wonder if Republicans are getting worried about the likes of state Sen. Scott Hammond, whose district was not thought to be in play but where Dems have a more than 2,500-vote lead right now.

 More later….

Updated, 7 AM, 10/20/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are:

Clark firewall: 42,000 Dem lead (13 percent of active voters have cast ballots)

It was 73,000 after two weeks of early voting in 2016.

Statewide: 52,000 Dem lead (without rurals from Monday, 13 percent of vote in)

It was 45,000 after two weeks of early voting in 2016.

So the statewide lead will be diminished a bit once the rurals come in, but a 54,000 lead in urban Nevada because of the mail explosion is something. Let me show you how this compares to 2016 in three charts:

This shows early voting in the last two cycles:

This is mail in the last two cycles:

This shows combined the last two cycles (only two days this year):

You can see that GOP early voting this year is not that different than 2016, but the Dems have fallen off as they have mailed it in. The question is if the Dems can keep this up in mail.

A quick look at a question I have been getting a lot: Which way do the non-major party voters lean?

Scroll down and you can see some modeling I have done. Generally, I think Trump needs to win others by double digits to have a chance here. Exit polls in 2016 showed he won them by 13, but remember these are self-identified indies, so I'm not sure how accurate that is. But: He clearly had to do well among indies to come within 2.5 points in 2016 because of the Dem registration advantage.

Polls this year, for what they are worth, are not consistent. The NYT/Siena poll showed Biden up 5 with indies while CBS showed Trump by 7 with indies.

Generally, indies in rural Nevada are very conservative while the urban ones lean more left. That's one reason I am keeping a close eye on rural turnout — Trump needs to run up the score there as he did last time with a record-setting 58,000-vote victory. Most of those votes are not in yet.

There are more indies than ever in Nevada, and they could make the difference.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 10 PM, 10/19/20

Clark in-person from today is in:

R – 12,865

D – 10,844

Others – 5,898

So weird to see GOP crush it in early voting in Clark. But that's because Democrats are -- yes, I'll continue to say it -- mailing it in.

Dem lead in mail is massive, so shaves 2K off lead and it is still at 42K in Clark -- an increase of 6K votes since this AM's update. It was 24K at this point in '16.

Waiting for Washoe....

And it just came in -- a quarter of active voters have now cast ballots there:

GOP+1,700 in in-person

Democratic - 2,299

Republican - 3,987

Other - 1,436

Total - 7,722

Combined mail/in-person:

Democratic - 35,112

Republican - 23,255

Other - 15,777

Total - 74,144

Dems up by just under 12K. Net gain of 600 by GOP for the day.

Urban lead in Nevada: 54K. It was about 74K at the end of early voting in 2016.

I still think the rural tsunami is coming.

See you tomorrow, faithful readers.

Updated, 8:00 PM, 10/19/20

Waiting for Washoe and Clark early voting from today, but Clark mail came in:

Dems gained 8.5K ballots since the last update -- 11,000 to 2,500. It is 60 percent to 19 percent in mail. Dems lead by 2,000 in early before today's voting.

So:

The raw ballot lead is now 44,000K -- a 30 percentage point lead.

Reminder: After two days in 2016, it was 18K on the way to a 73K Dem lead after two weeks in Clark. But this is a different year, as I have said, using whatever fruit analogy you like (apple-orange-pineapple).

So many more mail votes than usual and 155,000 have already cast ballots in Clark; in 2016 at this time, it was 84,000. So almost twice as many, mostly because mail started a week before early voting did.

Something's gotta give. Hard to believe this pace will keep up.

Lots of votes left. Only 13 percent turnout of active voters.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 4:20 PM, 10/19/20

As usual, my timing was impeccable. The SOS updated as I posted this, although not too many votes added. Only additions I see are from Washoe (Dems lead down to 12K) and a handful from Nye.

So:

160K mail ballots have been accepted for counting, and Dems lead 53 percent to 35 percent, or 45,000 ballots. Of all mail returned (175,000), the lead is the same. Overall, it is 49 percent to 29 percent, or about 44K statewide.

Republicans lead in-person on SOS site by a little more than 1,000, but that is not up to date. It does not include yesterday's Clark in-person, but that doesn't change much.

221K voted, 12.5 percent.

Updated, 2 PM, 10/19/20

While we wait for numbers, time to take a look at turnout by county and how many votes are left:

County Total Left Turnout D R O
Clark 1,191,349 1,076,171 9.7% 423,767 315,191 337,253
Washoe 301,430 236,070 21.7% 75,394 86,866 73,810
Lyon 39,607 34,725 12.3% 6,018 17,941 10,736
Douglas 38,565 31,635 18.0% 6,129 17,852 7,654
Carson 37,152 28,397 23.6% 7,573 12,620 8,204
Nye 33,571 28,387 15.4% 5,726 14,359 8,302
Elko 24,649 22,225 9.8% 2,978 12,712 6,535
Churchill 15,561 13,293 14.6% 1,866 7,690 3,737
Humboldt 8,607 8,031 6.7% 1,188 4,664 2,179
White Pine 5,178 4,408 14.9% 805 2,408 1,195
Storey 3,606 2,977 17.4% 572 1,520 885
Lander 3,249 2,773 14.7% 376 1,674 723
Mineral 3,081 2,654 13.9% 690 1,140 824
Lincoln 2,995 2,596 13.3% 412 1,676 508
Pershing 2,780 2,269 18.4% 372 1,290 607
Eureka 1,120 1,025 8.5% 72 1,059 232
Esmeralda 548 518 5.5% 73 310 135
Total 1,713,048 1,498,154 12.5% 534,011 500,972 463,519
% 87.5% 83.6% 89.3% 90.3%

Some thoughts:

---So 12.5 percent of active voters have cast ballots. (My usual caveat that some mail will be thrown out.) Dems have a significant turnout lead so far -- 16.4 percent to 10.7 percent. The Dems have 34,000 fewer voters left to turn out.

----The Washoe turnout is really something. Remember the Dems have a significant lead there right now -- 13,000 ballots or so.

----I am struck by how many votes are left in the half-dozen of the larger rural counties and just how many are Republicans. If you look at the current numbers there, the GOP rural tsunami is coming -- they just don't like mail. To wit:

Lyon: Dems+600

Douglas: GOP+400

Carson: Dems+300

Nye: GOP+12

Elko: GOP+300

Churchill: GOP+300

Let me show you how illusory that is for the Dems: The GOP now leads in those six counties by a combined 100 votes. In 2016, Trump won those six counties by -- wait for it -- a combined 46,000 votes.

The Rs have not yet begun to turn out in the rurals. The deluge cometh.

The question is if the urban mail will continue to flood in for the Dems to counteract it.

More later....

Updated, 7:50 AM, 10/19/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are:

Clark firewall: 36,000 Dem lead (11 percent of active voters have cast ballots)

Statewide: 44,500 Dem lead (12 percent of vote in)

So the Clark firewall is about half of what it was (73,000) after the entire two weeks in 2016, and the state lead is already where it was after two weeks in 2016.

In 2016, after two days, 85,500 people had cast mail and in-person ballots in Clark and the lead was 19,000 for the Dems, or 52 percent to 30 percent. This year, after two days, 137,000 have cast mail and in-person ballots in Clark, and the lead is nearly double 2016 in raw numbers, although the percentages are not as different: 53 percent to 26 percent.

Whether this year is the apple or the orange, the point is made, and I resort to Stephen Stills: There’s something happening here, and what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Because of the explosion in mail balloting, 12 percent of active voters have cast ballots. Even if the turnout is 90 percent, which would be unprecedented, that means 13 percent of the ballots already have been cast. (Not all have been accepted, but even if you ignore those for now, it doesn’t change the math much.)

Let me show you how different this year is compared to 2016:

In 2016 after two days of early voting, 92,000 people had cast ballots statewide in person; this year, when all the numbers are in, it will be about 62,000, give or take. So it is down by a third.

In 2016, the total number of mail ballots cast for the entire election was 80,000; this year, it is already more than twice that – with two weeks to go!

In 2016, about nine times as many people voted early in-person in toto compared to those who voted by mail; this year, four and a half times as many people have voted by mail as in-person.

One quick note about extrapolating what the Clark firewall has meant the last two presidential cycles:

In 2016, when it was 73,000, Hillary Clinton ended up winning Clark by 80,000 votes (11 percent).

In 2012, when it was 71,000, Barack Obama ended up winning Clark by 100,000 votes (15 percent).

We don’t know what Election Day will look like this year – Republicans usually do well and may do even better this year – but even using the lesser multiplier of 2016, the Clark firewall is a pretty good indicator of what the actual margin will be.

Consider: If 1 million voters turn out in Clark County – that would be turnout above 80 percent – that means the Dems would want to win by 100,000 votes, or 10 percent, to feel comfortable. So they would want the firewall to be at least 80,000 this cycle, maybe more. (There are almost a quarter of a million new voters in Clark since 2016.)

I think Republicans are confident they can cut the margins by winning in-person almost every day. Maybe. But even if they do, can they win it enough to cut the mail margins in the urban areas, which have been huge for the Dems so far? (The Dems have a 13,000-ballot edge in Washoe, and despite the GOP win in in-person – 600-plus votes – on Sunday, the Dems lead by almost 2 to 1 in combined ballots. The Dems only had a 1,000-ballot lead after early voting in 2016, and that was enough for Clinton to eke out a win there. Washoe is a real problem right now for the GOP.)

I’ll add more numbers later and a chart or two if I have time, but my assessment right now:

I’d rather be the Dems, but let’s wait a bit before saying the pattern is immutable.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 10:30 PM, 10/18/20

Final update of the evening with Clark early voting in:

D – 9,282

R – 9,143

O – 4,699

Total: 23,124

Last time it was this close in Clark early voting was during the red wave of 2014. But this is EXACTLY why this year is an apple and all others are oranges. With the explosion of mail ballots, the Dem firewall is 35K in Clark, about half of what it was at the end of early voting in 2016.

Early voting could be much less important than mail voting this cycle. That is, even if the GOP keeps it close every day, it won't matter if most Dems are voting by mail.

More tomorrow....

Updated, 9:45 PM, 10/18/20

SOS just updated, too:

The conservative numbers on mail ballots -- just the ones accepted (not including ones returned but pending):

53 percent to 25 percent, Dems.

45K statewide lead.

The Republicans have about a 500-vote lead in in-person voting, and that could grow as rurals come in.

The overall statewide lead for the Dems now, about 45K, is about what it was at the end of early voting in 2016. (Oranges, apples, etc.)

None of this includes Clark in-person today.

If you include all returned mail ballots, the lead doesn't change much.

More when I get Clark...

Updated, 9:15 PM, 10/18/20

Washoe numbers from today:

Democratic - 2,080

Republican - 2,664

Nonpartisan - 1,118

Total -5,862

Combined mail/early:

Democratic - 29,329

Republican- 16,878

Nonpartisan - 12,466

Total - 58,673

Nearly a fifth of active voters in Washoe have voted.

So the GOP was about +600 in the in-person vote but lost about 2,000 in mail ballots returned (some will be rejected). So net Dem gain of about 1,500 ballots.

Dems have about a 12,500 raw ballot lead in Washoe (minus whatever mail ballots are rejected). At the end of early voting in 2016, the Dems had a 1,000-ballot lead. Hillary Clinton won Washoe by 400 votes.

More when I have it.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 1:15 PM, 10/18/20

Quick dive into the current numbers and down-ballot effect:

CD3: The GOP actually beat the Dems by 500 votes out of 12,000 cast on the first day of early voting. Problem for GOP is that almost 50,000 votes in all have been cast (with mail ballots returned counted) and the Dems have a 2 to 1 lead. A little under 10 percent of the vote in. (Remember some of those mail ballots will not be accepted.)

CD4: The Dems won handily on the first of in-person voting – 1,300 votes among 8,400 cast. They lead by just under 3 to 1 in the Clark part of the district, which is 85 percent of the total, with just under 10 percent in.

SD5: The Republicans won in this key district by about 100 votes on the first day of early voting out of about 2,000 cast. But they trail by 3 to 1 with about 10 percent in.

SD6: The Dems won by only 50 votes out of 2,000 cast Saturday, but they have a 2.5 to 1 lead with about 10 percent in.

So the down-ballot effect, thanks to the mail ballots, is obvious in Clark. The real question is whether this could bring presumably safe GOP legislative seats into play. Too early to tell yet.

Only one day of early voting in the books, and only 10 percent of active voters in. So no trend yet, but you see that all the Dems have to do in some of these districts is just hold their own for the fortnight, and it’s game over.

Updated, 11:40 AM, 10/18/20

Clark is updated:

Total mail ballots received (not all accepted):

D -- 50,077

R -- 17,191

Others -- 19,707

That's a 33K-ballot lead (some will be rejected). Add that to the 2K in-person lead and it's a 35K lead in Clark.

114,000 people have cast ballots by mail or in-person in Clark. That's just under 10 percent.

Dems have a 54 percent to 24 percent lead.

It's still early.

Updated, 10 AM, 10/18/20

Of course Washoe posts right after I did.

GOP won first day of in-person early voting there by 500 (Dems won big there in 2016 on first day but did not have that mail lead), not much action on mail counting front and Dems still have 2 to 1 lead with 16 percent of the vote in:

D -- 23,821

R -- 12,779

O -- 10,127

Updated, 9:15 AM, 10/18/20

Good morning, fellow ravenous data types. Here's where we are:

Clark firewall: 32,000 Dem lead (9 percent of active voters have cast ballots)

Statewide: 40,000 Dem lead (9 percent of vote in)

Details (does not include Clark in-person on this chart):

Washoe still has not reported mail or in-person from Saturday, and Clark is two days behind in reporting mail ballots. I'll post those numbers when I get them.

I will try to start every day posting the statewide lead and the Clark County firewall status (Dem lead in most populous county that has protected them in three straight presidential cycles from losses in the rurals). I remind you of two things:

---Can't say it enough: This is an orange year; the rest were apples. The surge in mail voting has changed everything. The effect is already palpable: The Democrats won Clark by only 7 percentage points Saturday; in 2016, it was 28 percent. But they also already had banked a 20,000-vote lead in mail. We will see if some fine old cannibalizing is occurring as voting goes on.

---By the end of early voting in 2016, the Clark firewall was at 73,000 voters and Donald Trump had already lost. Assuming at least two-thirds of the vote comes in before Election Day, the Democrats will need at least that to feel comfortable. The Dem statewide lead in 2016 after early voting was 45,000.

One day does not a trend make. So holster your ecstasy or despair.

Having said all of that:

Tons of GOP votes in the rurals to come, 35,000 non-major-party voters have cast ballots and 13 days of early voting left. Miles to go before I sleep (I don't know about the rest of you....). But that's where we are.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 10:15 PM, 10/17/20

Don't have Washoe yet, but Clark saw about 27,000 turn out on the first day and the Dems won by nearly 2,000 votes (44-37). Those numbers are way down from 2016, when 39,000 votes were cast and the Dems won by 2 to 1 on the first day.

I actually thought all the pent-up demand might allow the GOP to win Clark. But they only lost by 2,000 votes and the Dems won the first day four years ago by 10,000 votes.

But remember what I have said and will keep saying: This year is an apple, and the others are oranges. The mail ballots, which already have exceeded 2016's, are changing everything.

The SOS site shows that Dems continue to do well with mail, leading the GOP by 37,000 ballots statewide in ballots that have been accepted. (They lead by 42,000 in all ballots returned, but some of those need signature curing or have not been verified yet.)

The SOS had only posted rural in-person voting -- Clark posted just now -- and the GOP crushed the Dems by 3 to 1. That amounted to about a 1,500-vote lead, but Nye, which has a fair number of voters, was not in yet.

So the Clark in-person essentially cancels the GOP lead in the rurals. So the mail lead of 37,000 is still important.

As a reminder, in 2016, after early voting was over, the Democrats had a 45,000-voter statewide lead; in Clark, it was 75,000.

So we wait for Washoe and any uncounted mail in Clark. I assume the GOP will win Washoe, but the question is by how much. They are losing by 10,000 in mail.

I don't put a lot of stock in just one day out of 14, in a regular year or in this anomalous one. My guess is the GOP hoped to win Clark today, but it also may be that Dems are cannibalizing what is usually the in-person early vote with their mail.

Need. More. Data.

More Sunday.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 6 PM, 10/17/20

We may not have any results until late tonight or early tomorrow from in-person early voting or mail dropoffs on the first day. So let me leave you now with this table that I will be constantly updating. The results below are the numbers I have through Friday.

I want to be clear that I will only be using mail ballots that have been accepted not just returned. That is the more conservative approach, although most of the returned ones will be accepted, I'd guess. But no reason to jump the gun.

I'm also using voter registration numbers reduced by the 75,000 inactive voters still on the rolls in Clark County because of a glitch. Those ballots almost certainly will be returned or thrown away or yelled about by Team Trump because those voters are not at there.

So this table will always be a conservative look at the state of play. As you can see, more Democratic voters are outstanding, but the GOP has about 4.5 percent more of its base that has not voted. Nearly 94 percent of active voters had not been counted in here yet.

It's early.

County Actives Left Turnout D R O
Clark 1,191,349 1,140,915 4.2% 456,732 333,361 350,862
Washoe 301,430 262,878 12.8% 85,210 97,170 80,498
Lyon 39,607 36,026 9.0% 6,372 18,564 11,080
Douglas 38,565 32,718 15.2% 6,399 18,478 7,841
Carson 37,152 35,134 5.4% 9,925 15,262 9,947
Nye 33,571 30,478 9.2% 6,366 15,293 8,819
Elko 24,649 22,831 7.4% 3,077 13,097 6,657
Churchill 15,561 14,164 9.0% 2,080 8,157 3,927
Humboldt 8,607 8,222 4.5% 1,229 4,787 2,206
White Pine 5,178 4,640 10.4% 869 2,548 1,223
Storey 3,606 3,137 13.0% 612 1,654 901
Lander 3,249 2,998 7.7% 427 1,819 752
Mineral 3,081 2,806 8.9% 740 1,215 851
Lincoln 2,995 2,727 8.9% 441 1,756 530
Pershing 2,780 2,647 4.8% 403 1,369 624
Eureka 1,120 1,025 8.5% 72 1,059 232
Esmeralda 548 531 3.1% 75 318 138
Total 1,713,048 1,603,877 6.4% 581,029 535,907 487,088
% 93.6% 91.0% 95.5% 94.9%

I'll update this table every day going forward so you can see how many votes are left.

Douglas, at 15 percent, is not surprising. Turnout there in 2016 was...94 percent.

Douglas, Lyon, Carson, Nye and Elko (and maybe Churchill) are the rural counties to watch. The others are generally too small to make a large difference. But if those five or six counties can increase their turnout and margins, Trump may have a shot here.

Here's what it looked like in 2016 with percentages and vote margins in parentheses and county turnouts:

Clark 52-42 Clinton (82,000) 75%
Washoe 46-45 Clinton (2,700) 79%
Lyon 67-26 Trump (10,000) 71%
Douglas 62-30 Trump (9,000) 94%
Carson 52-38 Trump (4,000) 92%
Nye 68-26 Trump (8,000) 72%
Elko 73-18 Trump (10,000) 78%
Churchill 72-20 Trump (5,500) 83%
Humboldt 70-22 Trump (3,000) 80%
White Pine 72-19 Trump (2,000) 81%
Storey 63-29 Trump (1,000) 86%
Lander 76-17 Trump (1,500) 81%
Mineral 59-32 Trump (500) 68%
Lincoln 78-13 Trump (1,500) 80%
Pershing 71-22 Trump (1,000) 79%
Eureka 85-9 Trump (650) 89%
Esmeralda 78-15 Trump (250) 73%
Total 77%

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 9:45 AM, 10/17/20

Welcome to the first day of early voting!

Here’s what to look for today:

----First and foremost, this year is an apple and all the rest are oranges. Probably. Unlike the past, every voter has a mail ballot and this likely will skew turnout patterns. 105,000 ballots already have been accepted, and Democrats start with a 31,000-ballot statewide lead.

----The key, as always, is the Clark County firewall. That is, can the Dems bank enough votes in the place where two-thirds-plus of votes will be cast to make everything else essentially moot? If a statewide candidate wins Clark by 10 percentage points, it is very difficult to lose. (Hillary Clinton won Clark by 10.5 points.) The Dems start with mail ballots accepted, with a 20,000-ballot lead – 30 percentage points. But it is so….early.

I have mapped the 2016 early vote for you below, but I really don’t think there will be much of an analogy. Just under half a million ballots were cast early in Clark in 2016. The Dems had about a 70,000-vote lead after the two-week period. It essentially was over for Donald Trump, then, and I said so.

----The usual pattern, as you can see in the chart, is a big first day, followed by a dropoff, until the end of the second week and then the last day often exceeds the first. I assume both parties will make a real effort today, especially the Republicans, who have pushed in-person voting over mail.

----New Washoe mail numbers just posted. Democrats continue to do very well, leading by more than 2 to 1, and almost 13 percent of active voters are in:

D -- 20,668

R -- 9,297

Others -- 8,587

Bookmark this space.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 4 PM, 10/16/20

A data avalanche today, friends, so let me dive in:

----The SOS has now parsed the mail ballots into the ones that have been accepted, the ones needing signature cures and the ones returned as undeliverable. Kudos to the SOS for putting up this page, where you can see all of the categories, including how many have been cured and how many are awaiting cures.

The best numbers to use now are these:

About 6 percent of active voters (105,000) have had their ballots accepted, and the Democrats have a 31,000 ballot lead statewide, and are ahead by 30 percentage points. The lead is almost entirely in Clark and Washoe because the rurals are about tied — that will not last, of course.

But let’s see what that number really means.

If turnout is 90 percent, about six and a quarter percent of the vote is in. If turnout is 85 percent, then about 7 percent is in. If turnout is 80 percent, then almost 7.5 percent is in.

So, whether you are bullish or bearish on turnout, the mail vote is substantial but not yet, perhaps, significant. As I have been saying in previous posts, let’s see how the Republicans do when early voting starts Saturday. (Remember the Dems won the early vote by nearly 30 percentage points on the first day in Clark in 2016, or about 2 to 1. Highly unlikely that happens Saturday.  55,000 turned out statewide and 39,000 in Clark in 2016 on the first day — I expect those numbers to be dwarfed tomorrow.)

----You can see there are about 27,000 ballots returned that have not been counted. Some of those are signature cures in waiting but others are at the verification stage. Numbers in those charts will change a lot, especially the undeliverable ballots in Clark because of those 75,000 or so inactive voters still on the rolls. On this page, you can see the 132,000 ballots actually received so far (not all are accepted), and there the Dem lead there is 39,000 ballots. But I am going to use the more conservative number of those accepted for voting, even though many of those other ballots eventually will be.

----I also have some new registration numbers for the first two weeks of October, and the Democrats are ahead by about 2,500 voters statewide. That’s not huge, but it could matter. Here are the changes in each county since the beginning of the month:

County Dem Indep. American Libertarian NP Other GOP Total % Change
Carson City 130 36 6 142 11 168 493 1.34%
Churchill 33 16 10 109 8 133 309 2.03%
Clark 12,663 2,160 253 10,066 947 9,301 35,390 2.87%
Douglas 110 30 9 150 26 223 548 1.44%
Elko 75 37 12 225 23 363 735 3.07%
Esmeralda 1 1 0 6 -1 8 15 2.81%
Eureka -2 0 1 6 2 7 14 1.27%
Humboldt 25 16 4 58 2 120 225 2.68%
Lander 6 5 1 9 1 39 61 1.91%
Lincoln -2 4 1 -2 0 32 33 1.11%
Lyon 89 34 8 230 17 322 700 1.80%
Mineral 13 3 0 36 1 9 62 2.05%
Nye 81 51 2 189 21 276 620 1.88%
Pershing 3 2 0 14 0 25 44 1.61%
Storey 2 0 1 14 1 13 31 0.87%
Washoe 2,118 415 116 2,069 143 1,744 6,605 2.24%
White Pine 2 6 1 19 5 45 78 1.53%
Statewide 15,347 2,816 425 13,340 1,207 12,828 45,963 2.64%
% Change 2.34% 3.64% 2.49% 3.26% 6.72% 2.27% 2.64%  

So almost 3,300 has been padded onto the Dem lead in Clark alone, which means the GOP basically won the rest of the state by about 800. Dems gained 400 in Washoe but lost by wide margins (but smaller numbers) in the larger rural counties.

The continued growth in nonpartisan registration, greater in percentage terms than either major party, is something to watch. NPs in the rurals pretty much vote Republican, which means President Trump can run up some numbers in rural Nevada.

No one has ever done what he did in rural Nevada (58,000-voter margin) and it could be bigger than ever this time. (Did that sound like him?)

I’ll keep an eye on early voting for everyone tomorrow. Could be a long day for election officials. They are great, dedicated people, so say a prayer for them.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 4:45 PM, 10/15/20

As I write this, 90,000 ballots have been returned (some will be rejected), which is 5 percent of active voters, and the Democrats have a huge lead: 30 percentage points and 28,000 ballots statewide.

Dems are even or winning in most of the rurals, which tells me a GOP surge during early voting is more than likely. But the Dems are doing now what they usually do in early voting – banking as many votes as they can. 

Take Clark, where the Dems have been ahead 3 to 1 or close to it the first two days of counting, and indies/third parties are turning out in greater numbers than Republicans. The GOP is barely a fifth of the turnout in Clark so far. A fifth!

The Dems are also ahead by 2 and a half (CD3) and three and a half (CD4) to 1 in the key congressional districts.

The numbers in those two critical state Senate districts in Clark: Dems have 3 to 1 leads in both.

This cannot last. None of it.

The Republicans will start to turn out in big numbers this weekend, I’d guess. The president’s visit is designed to juice turnout, and he needs it. The question is if the Democrats can keep pace with them.

----I’ll have more on early voting Friday. And even though this year is a completely different animal than any since I have covered politics with the big increase in mail balloting, thus skewing any comparisons to the past, here’s what happened on the first day in 2016 – quoting from that cycle’s early voting blog:

In Clark: Record turnout of 39,000, 6,000 above 2012. But with 150,000 additional voters, the percentage (3.8 percent) is about the same. The Democrats won 21,611-10,701. That’s 55 percent to 27 percent, almost identical to what it was in 2012. That means Democrats are turning out 12 points above their registration and Republicans are 2 points below theirs.

Statewide: The raw numbers, according to the secretary of state, combining early and mail ballots: 41,017-27,606. That’s 49 percent to 33 percent. Democrats are 10 percent above their registration numbers and Republicans right at theirs.

 ----The Clark registration numbers are now at Dems plus 156,900 (subtract the inactives and it’s about 143,500). That’s a gain of about 4,500 in a month. It has slowed a little, day by day, but Dems are gaining steadily. It will be interesting to see what is happening in Washoe and if the rurals can offset.

----I have been basing my modeling on what amounts to 79 percent turnout – or about 2 percentage points higher than 2016. My baseline projections are that 85 percent of each party’s base turns out and about 75 percent of indies/third parties. But what if it is 90 percent of each party’s base and 80 percent of others? That would be 84 percent turnout.

Here’s what that will look like – with a reminder of what each column means:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45.

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

90/90/80 turnout 90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90/90/40-50 90/90/50-45 90/90/45-50
Biden 709,556 729,556 689,556 729,556 709,556
Trump 652,111 632,111 672,111 652,111 672,111
Rest 92,719 92,719 92,719 72,719 72,719
Biden 49% 50% 47% 50% 49%
Trump 45% 43% 46% 45% 46%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Victory margin 57,445 (Biden) 97,445 (Biden) 17,445 (Biden) 77,445 (Biden) 37,445 (Biden)

So, truth be told: It doesn’t change much. Unless Biden hemorrhages from the base, and/or the Dems don’t turn out close to Republican turnout, Trump must win indies by 10 points or more to have a chance here.

More when I have it.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 4:45 PM, 10/14/20

The SOS has updated its page with those Washoe numbers I told you about, so here's where we stand statewide:

Dems: 54 percent

Repubs: 24 percent

Others: 22 percent

Three percent of registered voters have returned ballots, or about 52,000. The Dems have a 15,000-ballot statewide lead (before any ballots are rejected).

Updated, 2:45 PM, 10/14/20

Lots of data so far on returned ballots, but I am trying to get to the bottom of a discrepancy that appears to have screwed up this chart. The Washoe numbers are incorrect there, as is the description of what they represent on the Washoe site. (I have been spending too much time today pushing the SOS and Washoe folks to fix their data. I need a life.)

Those numbers on the Washoe site are cumulative (not daily as the site says) – I downloaded the data file to be sure – so the Dems have more than a 2 to 1 lead, but about 20,000 people have returned ballots, not the 30,000-plus on the SOS site.

That’s still an almost-7,000 raw vote Dem lead in a county with a slight GOP plurality (700 votes or so). And the Dems have about an 8,000-vote lead in Clark.

Despite the SOS discrepancy with Washoe (I will update you when I find out what happened), the Dems still have a 15,000 vote lead statewide or thereabouts.

Remember, though, that a certain number of these returned ballots will be rejected and sent to voters for signature curing or simply invalidated – likely to be a small minority, but I hope to have those numbers soon.

The turnout – 2 percent in Clark and 7 percent in Washoe – is still not enough to say it’s a trend. But I’ll keep an eye on it.

What we do know: Democrats are returning mail ballots and Republicans are not keeping pace. It’s 60 percent to 18 percent in Clark, and 56-23 in Washoe. Caveat again: Small samples.

In both CD3 and CD4, the Democrats have a 3,000-voter lead and only 8,000 and 6,500 ballots have been returned, respectively. Again, these are minuscule samples – less than 2 percent – of voters.

Which brings me to…

What we don’t know: Will Republicans too afraid to send in mail ballots thanks to presidential admonitions instead flock to early voting? That could change everything. We will know more starting Saturday. Check this space. 

If Republicans are not turning out in larger-than-usual numbers during the two weeks of early voting, they are in big trouble. But if they do, the president has a real chance here.

I’ll have data comparisons coming to show you what to expect in the next few days.

----Reminder from 2016: The Democrats had a 45,000-voter lead statewide after early/mail voting – 70,000 or so in Clark. Nearly 70 percent of the vote was cast before Election Day. Let’s see what happens in this very different year with a much different composition of ballots.

----Another 2016 comparison: I looked at the Nevada exit polls for 2016 and Donald Trump won indies by 50-37. Hillary took 90 percent of the Dem base and Trump got 88 percent of the GOP base. These were self-ID exit polls — that is, the numbers reflect what people said they are and sometimes they…lie.

But let’s suppose those numbers are correct. What would happen if those were replicated this cycle, when Dems have lost a bit off their percentage lead statewide?

The model below, like all of my models, takes into account the 75,000 inactive voters on the rolls in Clark and subtracts them, which helps the GOP by a net of 13,500 voters. They also do not yet account for the recent Dem surge in Clark, but they will soon. (Reminder: First column shows if both parties have 85 percent turnout; second shows if Republicans have 90 percent and Democrats have 85 percent.)

2016 exits 85-85 turnout 85-90 turnout
Biden 652,866 655,059
Trump 639,958 664,080
Rest 77,986 79,082
Biden 48% 47%
Trump 47% 47%
Rest 6% 6%
Victory margin 12,908 (Biden) 9,021 (Trump)

So you can see if Trump wins indies here by double digits, as your favorite data geek has been arguing, the race will be very tight in Nevada. Almost no polls have shown that — some have found the president with a small lead. So unless one candidate experiences a huge dropoff in base support, it’s safe to say Trump needs to win indies by at least 10 and perhaps more.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 5 PM, 10/13/20

We have some ballot return numbers from urban Nevada, and the Democrats are outpacing the Republicans in Washoe and Clark. But the numbers don’t mean that much because the sample is so small. The rural numbers have been updated, too.

These early mail return numbers seem to indicate that either Republicans here are instructing people not to mail their ballots yet or many partisans are affected by the POTUS scare tactics. Either way, seems awfully risky to put all of your eggs in the Election Day basket. I still think overall turnout will be sky high.

----The Clark surge slowed since I last posted. The Dem lead is at 156,600, with all the usual caveats. That's a gain of 100 since Monday. Let’s see Wednesday if the Republicans are holding them off now or if this is a one-day anomaly.

----That RJ poll released today showing a dead heat is an outlier – I have seen two other credible private polls showing Joe Biden up by double digits. I don’t know if they are correct, but a dead heat it is not in most polls.

The poll has some other anomalies, too – no cell phones called, 13 percent Hispanics. I would still like to plug the internals into the model as I have with the NYT/Siena and CBS polls, but the RJ has not released the crosstabs – or I can’t find them.

The story says President Donald Trump is up 4 among indies – if so, the race is not a dead heat. Biden would still be up a bit, depending on the turnout scenarios, as you can see below from previous modeling.

I’ll repeat what I keep saying: Trump can win here, but we don’t have enough actual votes yet to see where the race is going here. All the credible polling says Biden will win here, but I prefer ballot return and early voting numbers to use for projections.

More when I have it.

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 4 PM, 10/12/20

We have our first report of returned ballots from four small counties and….it doesn’t tell us much.

It appears Republicans are waiting until Election Day – or for early voting, which starts Saturday. The Democrats have a 250-vote lead out of about 5,500 returned, but the sample is small (about three-tenths of 1 percent of active voters).

Let me put it this way: The Democrats have a small lead in super-red Douglas County. If that were to last (it won’t), the Republicans would be extinct in Nevada. I am sure Republicans are just more patient than the Democrats, as they are elsewhere, too. Or they believe the Trump/Laxalt nonsense about mail ballots.

Once we start seeing the Clark County ballots, we will have a much better idea of where this is going.

Fun fact: In 2016, 72,000 mail ballots (6.4 percent of total) were returned – a quarter of that number had already come back last Friday. The Dems won by about 1,500 absentee ballots statewide in 2016.

----Speaking of Clark, the voter registration lead is now up above 156,500 for the Dems over the GOP. (My usual reminder: subtract about 13,500 off that for the inactives still on the list.) I will adjust my models soon to show this surge – 1,000 this week, 4,000 over the last month.

As I wrote in my newsletter this morning: At the close of registration for the 2016 general, when the Democratic sweep occurred, the Clark advantage was 142,263. In 2018, when the Dems swept again, it was 137,175. (So right now, it’s close to 2016 in raw numbers if you subtract the inactives, but there also were fewer registered voters.)

If you subtract the inactives, the Dems have an 11.6 percent lead in Clark now. Reminder: In 2016, it was 14 percent because there were 200,000-plus fewer voters. To get to 14 percent this cycle, the Dems would need to have a 175,000-voter lead. Not gonna happen, or even close.

So Democrats have a significantly diminished share of the vote in Clark in 2020, but the Republicans still are behind by double digits. And the Dems still have a chance to get to a 12 percent advantage in Clark.

You may have seen the report of the CBS poll last week on Nevada. I looked at the details and the crosstabs, and I have a few thoughts and a table:

----The CBS poll showed Joe Biden with a 6 percentage point lead, same as that recent New York Times poll (see my analysis of that below). But there are significant differences.

---This survey looks at registered voters, not likely voters. But the sample size (more than 1,000) is quite large.

----The demos generally look reasonable – 18 percent Hispanic, 52-48 female-male and 37-31 D-R (slightly Dem-friendly, perhaps). The party breakdown, however, is from self-identified (as opposed voter registration lists) Ds and Rs, which can be a bit off because people occasionally don’t like to self-ID with a party, which could make the indies cohort swell and skew the partisan breakdown.

----This survey uses online panels and then weights them. For what it’s worth, 538 rates the NYT/Siena polls as A-plus and the YouGov polls as B-minus. Also, for what it’s worth, CBS/YouGov had Nevada at Clinton plus 6 in mid-October 2016. (She won by 2.5.)

----So having said all of that, let’s see what the results look like if the crosstabs of the CBS poll are plugged into actual voter registration numbers. Note that I again have two models – one with both parties turning out 85 percent of their bases and another showing the Dems at 85 percent and the GOP at 90. I also have reduced the actual active voter numbers by the 75,000 inactive voters still on the rolls in Clark that helps the GOP.

Below is what it would look like, as the poll found, if Biden won Democrats, 93-6, Trump won Republicans, 90-8 and Trump won others, 50-44.

CBS 85-85 turnout 85-90 turnout
Biden 685,691 687,335
Trump 649,278 673,948
Rest 35,841 36,938
Biden 50% 49%
Trump 47% 48%
Rest 3% 3%
Victory margin 36,413 13,388

As you can see, Biden would win in both turnout scenarios, although the race would be very close if the GOP had a 5 percent turnout edge. (This is quite unlikely, but again shows what the Democratic registration advantage means, and I have yet to add the recent Clark surge.)

This also is a reminder that indies are key to the election here, and it essentially shows that Trump needs to win them by close to double digits to have any chance. That is why registration matters.

(By the way, pet polling peeve: Almost no polls of Nevada account for “none of these candidates” being on the ballot. It could matter.)

As always, email me with any questions at [email protected]. And if you appreciate this blog, please support our nonprofit.

Updated, 2:15 PM, 10/10/20

Bonus Saturday edition, all:

----I’m reliably told that statewide turnout so far is about 1 percent – about 17,500 mail ballots have been returned. No data yet from Clark, which just sent ballots out a few days ago. About 9,000 mail ballots have been returned in Washoe County. That’s about 3 percent of active voters there. Those ballots went out Monday.

No party breakdown yet, but I should have that early next week. In Washoe registration, Dems have cut the GOP lead by more than 200 voters in the last week to just under 700. Reminder: in 2016, when Hillary Clinton eked out a win in Washoe, the GOP lead was 4,000 voters over the Dems. This is not the Washoe County of Paul Laxalt’s time.

----The Dems have pushed their Clark lead close to 156,500 (with all of those inactives, reality is closer to 143,000). That’s a gain of almost 2,000 this week. At the close of registration for the 2016 general, when the Democratic sweep occurred, the Clark County advantage was 142,263. In 2018, when the Dems swept again, it was 137,175. (So right now, it’s close to 2016 in raw numbers if you subtract the inactives, but there were 200,000-plus fewer registered voters.)

----I told you Friday about the figures on voters defaulting to nonpartisan if they don’t choose a party at the DMV with the new Automatic Voter Registration law. Now I have learned that since January, 26,593 voters have actively selected nonpartisan status. And you can see from this chart, the surge that has occurred in the last two months:

Month NP chosen
January 3,800
February 3,157
March 2,559
April 1,420
May 1,710
June 2,334
July 2,435
August 3,967
September 5,211
Total 26,593

----Early voting starts a week from today. We will see if the Dems try to crush it there as they have done every presidential cycle in the last three (as opposed to pushing mail voting) and how much the Republicans are doing by mail to cut the gap. (Wouldn’t that be ironic/hypocritical?). The real story in Nevada voting every presidential cycle of the last three is that Dems banked so many votes during early voting so as to make Election Day essentially irrelevant in the White House contest. That’s why Donald Trump’s 2.5 percent loss last time was misleading; he was dead before Election Day.  It’s also how I knew in 2014 that the Dems’ performance was so anemic during early voting that a red wave was coming.

Follow this space for blow by blow, and support The Indy if you can.

Updated, 2:45 PM, 10/9/20

Lots of news for the blog today:

----TRUMP LEADS IN NEVADA!

OK, all; calm down. I do have some information on ballots already cast – it’s not much, and I will have more data next week.

I have learned that 3,000 ballots have already been cast in super-red Douglas County – that’s 8 percent of the vote already this far from Election Day. Remember, turnout in Douglas was – wait for it – 94 percent in 2016 -- and a 2.5-to-1 GOP registration edge.

I don’t have party breakdowns yet, but I think we can safely say most of those votes are for the president.

I bet Trumpworld is just fine with these mail ballots….

----The Dems continue to buttress the Clark County firewall. They are now just under 156,000 on their lead over Republicans, and they will probably gain about 1,500 this week in all.

----I have been wondering about what the Automatic Voter Registration law in Nevada has yielded, especially how many of the new nonpartisan voters were simply defaulted to that category because they did not choose a party. The chart below (SOS data) reveals a lot:

Month Total Existing % New % NP defaults % of new % of total
January 52,277 31,817 61% 20,460 39% 12,164 59% 23%
February 52,117 32,352 62% 19,765 38% 12,005 61% 23%
March 33,548 22,349 67% 11,199 33% 6,773 60% 20%
April 7,360 5,867 80% 1,493 20% 497 33% 7%
May 10,370 8,328 80% 2,042 20% 715 35% 7%
June 22,023 15,421 70% 6,602 30% 4,939 75% 22%
July 31,565 20,895 66% 10,670 34% 6,089 57% 19%
August 44,151 30,166 59% 13,985 41% 6,873 49% 16%
September 53,036 37,529 71% 15,501 29% 7,388 48% 14%
TOTAL 306,447 204,724 67% 101,723 33% 57,443 56% 19%

You can see that about two-thirds of those registered at the DMV were existing voters. About 100,000 are new voters and more than half – 57,000 – were defaulted to nonpartisan because they did not select a party.

The voters who defaulted to nonpartisan are sent a letter informing them, so some inevitably later choose a party.

AVR clearly was helping the Democrats before the pandemic, and you can see the drop in voters starting in April and then a record being set last month.

Interesting stuff.

And this is the place to come for interesting stuff!

Have a good weekend, all. Donate if you appreciate this blog. The Indy is a nonprofit and we can use all the help we can get.

Updated, 3:15 PM, 10/8/20

Ballots in all areas of the state are now being filled out and mailed, so I hope to have real vote numbers soon. Until then:

----The Dems in Clark County continue to surge. As I write this on Thursday, they have gained 400 on their voter registration lead since yesterday. They are up about 1,000 this week and 3,000 since mid-September. This is going to affect the firewall.

----A look at the Assembly races and numbers shows movement toward the Dems since 2018 in five key districts, as this chart shows:

ASSEMBLY D-R 2016 D-R 2018 D-R now
2 R+1,719 R+1,829 R+969
4 D+288 R+33 D+11
29 D+1,496 D+1,550 D+2,233
31 R+2,271 R+2,386 R+1,966
37 D+312 D+245 D+845

Remember what’s at stake here: The Dems have one more than a supermajority in the Assembly. The GOP goal is to get that number down from 29 to at least 27, so the supermajority is erased. They have a shot and have targeted two Dem freshmen:

District 2, where John Hambrick has retired, has seen the GOP advantage sliced in half, so the Dems think they have a chance with Radhika Kunnel. But Heidi Kasama is considered one of the better GOP recruits and has to be considered a slight favorite.

District 4, where Democratic freshman Connie Munk (she only won by 120 votes) is facing a rematch from former Assemblyman Richard McArthur, is the closest od the competitive districts in registration. McArthur is not considered a particularly strong candidate by many Republicans – they loaded up on his primary foe – but he clearly has a chance with that registration split against newcomer Munk.

District 29, where Democratic Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen is facing newcomer Steven Delisle, has had a 50 percent increase in the Dem advantage since 2018. She is a slight favorite.

District 31, where Democratic incumbent Skip Daly has a rematch with Jill Dickman, is a GOP district. Indeed, the Republicans thought this was locked last time. Daly may be a favorite, but barely.

District 37, where freshman Democratic Assemblywoman Shea Backus (she only won by 135 votes) is facing Andy Matthews, also has moved toward the Dems. But the registration is close and Matthews, part of the Adam Laxalt network, has raised a lot of money. This one is a toss-up.

It’s not unreasonable at all to see the Republicans knocking off Daley, Munk and Backus. But there is a lot of money coming in late for Backus, and even some Republicans think Matthews leans too far right for the district. McArthur, too, may be too conservative for that changing area.

If Joe Biden wins Clark County by a large margin, he could drag some of these Democrats across the finish line. But if he does not, the numbers say the Republicans could achieve their goal of being only slightly irrelevant next session.

Updated, 1:45PM, 10/7/20

So a lot to get through in this post, loyal readers, including the breakdown of inactive voters still on the rolls in Clark County and a new model using a new New York Times poll and its crosstabs:

----First, I have the exact breakdown of those 75,000 voters who are actually inactive because their ballots were returned in the primary but officials missed a deadline to actually deactivate them. Those numbers, which you can see below, I will subtract from the actual voter registration numbers for all of the modeling I do from now until the election because very few of them will actually vote. Inactive voters do not live at an address, so they are likely gone.

Here’s the table showing the breakdown, which reduces the Democratic edge by about 13,500 voters in Clark:

Americans Elect Party                  3
Democratic        31,408
Independent American          3,676
Libertarian              897
Natural Law                14
NO POLITICAL PARTY                  7
Nonpartisan        20,461
Other              744
Reform Party                  5
Republican        18,040
Tea Party of Nevada                13
The Green Party              124
TOTAL        75,392

----The NYT poll looks pretty solid. The 6-percentage-point Joe Biden lead is reasonable, up from a 4-percentage-point edge last month in the Times. The margin of error is 4.3 percent. The demographics all look pretty good – 4 percent Democratic registration lead (actual reg difference is 5 percent, although with the inactives noted above it is closer to 4 percent).

Some other interesting Biden v. Trump breakdowns I have obtained:

Clark: 53-36

Washoe: 51-44

Rest of the counties: 19-70

--

White: 41-52

Hispanic: 59-27

Black: 80-9

Suffice it to say, if Biden wins Clark by 17 points, it does not matter what the other numbers are. And if he is really up 7 in Washoe, that is extraordinarily bad news for the GOP and could put some down-ballot races in play. (I told you in a previous post that I think Trump could get 70 percent in the rurals, so I am not surprised to see that number.)

Let me show you what it looks like if you plug the New York Times results into two turnout scenarios — one that shows Democrats and Republicans each with 85 percent turnout and another that shows Democrats at 85 percent and Republicans at 90 percent:

NYT 85-85 turnout 85-90 turnout
Biden 673,531 674,901
Trump 593,315 618,807
Rest 103,964 104,513
Biden 49% 48%
Trump 43% 44%
Rest 8% 7%
Victory margin 80,216 56,094
Turnout
D 529,819 529,819
R 465,991 493,403
O 375,000 375,000
Total 1,370,810 1,398,221

You can see that with both candidates getting 93 percent of their bases and Biden winning others by 42-37, as the poll showed, Trump loses under both models – by 6 points in one and 4 points in the other. Unless something strange occurs, Trump is going to need to win indies by at least 10 points to take Nevada.

By the way, the Clark advantage continues to grow for the Dems. It is now more than 155,300 (without the inactives subtracted). The Dems appear to be gaining several hundred every day now. That is quite ominous for the GOP.

More when I have more….

Updated, 3:40 PM, 10/6/20

The Democratic machine in Clark continues to purr. The Dems just went over 155,000 in their Clark lead, and they now have more than 510,000 registered voters in the South. I wonder if they can keep up this pace.

Today, a look at the state Senate, where Democrats are one short of a supermajority but have two of their own seats in jeopardy. Perhaps the most important races outside of the presidential contest in Nevada this year – if you assume the Republicans are longshots in CD3 and CD4 – are the contests in the state Senate.

The only really competitive races – that is, unless something very strange occurs – are in Senate District 5, being vacated by Democrat Joyce Woodhouse, and Senate District 6, where Democratic Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro is seeking re-election.

The Democrats have registration edges in both districts, but Woodhouse (who won with less than 1 percent) and Cannizzaro (less than 2 percent) won close races in 2016.

Let’s look at SD5 first – here is what the voter registration looks like since Woodhouse defeated Carrie Buck, who is making her third attempt to win the seat (she was part of the effort to recall Woodhouse in 2018) and Kristee Watson, the Democrat:

The Dems have actually picked up 1,000 voters on their lead since 2016, but you can see the real spurt has been with indies/others, who now are almost as numerous as Republicans in the district. Buck came close against an incumbent last time, and Watson is an unknown, so she has a real chance despite the voter registration edge for the Dems. But so often how the top of the ticket performs affects these races.

(One caveat here and in SD5: Many Dem voters in Clark actually are inactive, so the margin probably isn’t as great as it seems. But it is still significant.)

In SD6, perhaps the most important race in the state this cycle, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent against the majority leader to help Republican April Becker. If Cannizzaro were to lose, it not only would bring the GOP closer in the upper house, it would send the Senate Democratic Caucus into disarray.

Here’s what the numbers look like there.

The Dems have similarly padded their lead since 2016 by more than 1,000 voters, and there has been a rapid increase in non-major party registrants. The indie/third-party vote is going to be key to these and other contests.

I could make a good case for Republicans having a shot to pick up both of these seats despite the registration deficits. I would say Cannizzaro’s fortunes (and Watson’s) are more in Joe Biden’s hands than their own.

By the way, the Dems think they can knock off Heidi Gansert in SD15 because the registration numbers are close to even, but that’s a long shot, I think. Let me put it this way: If Gansert loses, the Democrats are going to win EVERYTHING.

More when I have something to say. Don’t forget: Clark ballots go out Wednesday!

Updated, 3:30 PM, 10/5/20

So the biggest news since I last posted is the ongoing surge by the Democrats in Clark since the Culinary and others got back in the field. It has been dramatic almost every day. To wit:

Since the SOS posted those numbers for September, the Democratic lead has expanded from 153,241 to 154,819 (as I write this because Clark updates every hour). So they are up almost 1,600 this month already. There’s something happening here, and what it is is very clear.

I remind everyone: the lead is probably about 141,000 because of inactives not taken off the active rolls in Clark after the primary. But every one of those voters is almost surely a Joe Biden voter – they are not registering wishy-washy Dems. And if the race is close, what the Dems do in the final weeks could be important.

In Washoe, where the Dems had taken the lead before the pandemic, the GOP is maintaining a 1,000 vote lead as of Oct. 1. For perspective, the GOP led by 4,000 in Washoe when Donald Trump lost the county by a percentage point in 2016, the first sign that Dems would run well there statewide and a phenomenon confirmed by Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Jacky Rosen winning there in 2018.

If a statewide Democratic candidate holds his or her own in Washoe, it’s almost impossible for a Republican to win.

Just for fun, here’s a chart of Washoe registration trends – you can see what happened in 2008, when Nevada became a swing state and the Democratic machine registered 30,000 new voters at the caucus:

The numbers dip in the off-years, but it’s clear what has happened since George W. Bush won the state in 2004 when the Republicans had a 18,000-vote lead in Washoe and he won the county by 7,000 votes. When Barack Obama crushed John McCain here by double digits, he won Washoe by 13 percentage points. Mitt Romney cut that margin in half in 2012, and Trump lost by 3,000 votes in 2016.

The trajectory seems to be favoring the GOP in presidential years since 2008. But the voter registration numbers are not that robust for the GOP compared to four years ago.

Later this week, I hope to dive into some legislative district registration numbers.

Always feel free to email me with questions.

Updated, 3:10 PM, 10/2/20

Just to re-emphasize: It's important to note that there are about 275,000 more registered voters now than in 2016, so the Democratic lead is not proportional to what it was. The parties have each added about 77,000 voters since 2016 -- the GOP actually has about a 300-voter edge right now since Trump lost here. As I have said, a 6 percentage point lead in 2016 is a 5 percentage point lead now -- and actually closer to 4 percent because of the Democratic losses with inactive voters still on the rolls.

We will see if that makes a difference, and we will know more once votes start coming in.

Updated, 1:25 PM, 10/2/20

Here's a look at some voter registration trends in Clark County this year — Republican operatives were bragging on social media about gaining 7,000 on the Dems since March, without mentioning they had lost 12,000 before the point from which they measured.

Here's what the chart looks like for this year:

Some of the dips for both parties were because of list maintenance. But the bottom line is that so far in 2020, the Democrats have gained 5,000 voters statewide. They would have been much further ahead, though, had it not been for the pandemic shutting down the Dem machine. You can see the flattening in the chart.

As for where we are now compared to 2016, take a look at this chart:

Bottom line: There is not a large amount of difference in the difference between the Republicans and Democrats since 2016 — the lead is just under 90,000, as I point out below. There has been no great GOP registration program or surge. But the Democratic machine being shut off during the pandemic - it was turned on again about two weeks ago - and about 75,000 faux active voters (they are on the rolls but are actually inactive because of a missed deadline) have reduced the percentage lead for the Democrats.

The only real surge has been in independent/third party voters, which have relegated the GOP to also-ran status in Clark (behind the Dems and others) and have, as you can see, far outpaced Dem and GOP growth since 2016. They will control the election, from top to bottom.

Updated, 3:30 PM, 10/1/20

The SOS released new voter registration numbers Thursday afternoon. Some thoughts on what they show:

----60,000 new voters is a lot of new voters for one month. 18,000 Republicans and 15,000 Democrats. Indies outregistered them both — 19,000. The Democratic lead over Republicans statewide is now 88,500, or a little more than 5 percent.

However, let me again remind everyone that the Clark County Democratic lead is likely inflated by about 14,000 voters because of inactive voters accidentally kept on the active rolls — so the Dem statewide lead is probably closer to 75,000, or a little more than 4 percent.

For comparison, on Election Day 2016, the lead was 88,800, or 6 percent. That's not an insignificant difference.

----Here are the gains by the parties during the last month, county by county:

Clark: GOP+86 

Washoe: GOP+333

Carson City: GOP+229

Churchill: GOP+246

Douglas: GOP+393

Elko: GOP+454

Esmeralda: Dem+12

Eureka: GOP+24

Humboldt: GOP+176

Lander: GOP+43

Lincoln: GOP+57

Lyon: GOP+468

Mineral: GOP+32

Nye: GOP+459

Pershing: Dem+7

Storey: GOP+25

White Pine: GOP+71

So about three-quarters of the GOP gains in September came from rural Nevada while they increased their lead to about 1,000 in Washoe, the state’s swing county. (The GOP led by about 4,000 in 2016 when Trump lost Washoe.)

The Democrats only gained a little ground last month in those two rural counties because of routine list maintenance. It’s not significant.

So what does this all mean?

The Democratic machine started moving the needle in Clark again this week – the Dems have gained close to 1,500 in the last two weeks – but the GOP hopes to get the rural vote as high as possible, so the small county margins could be meaningful. Rural turnout (137,000 voters) was 13 percent of the vote in 2016, just under a point above its registration total, and Trump won the rurals by 58,000 votes while losing the state by 27,000 votes. (He lost Clark by 82,500 votes.)

Let’s do some math:

Trump garnered 65 percent of the rural vote last time, and I think it could easily be larger this cycle. Hillary Clinton took just over a quarter of the rural vote. It’s hard to believe Biden would go under 25 percent.

Let’s look at a GOP-generous scenario with rural turnout at 14 percent of the total votes cast and 1.5 million is the statewide turnout. (That means rural turnout would be 210,000.)

If Trump were to get 70 percent of the rural vote, and Biden were to get 25 percent, Trump would win the rurals by about 95,000 voters. That would be a phenomenal, unprecedented result.

Clinton got 52 percent of the vote in Clark and won by more than 10 points. It’s hard to believe Biden would do worse than she did, but let’s say he gets only 50 percent of the vote in Clark. And let’s suppose turnout in Clark also is slightly down and 1 million voters cast ballots. If Biden gets 50 percent and Trump gets 40 percent, the Democratic nominee would win Clark by 100,000 votes.

That means Trump would have to win Washoe by more than 5,000 votes to win. Clinton won Washoe by 3,000, but it's not impossible that Trump could win there.

But if Biden did as well as Clinton in Washoe, even under this near best-case scenario for the GOP in the rurals, the Democratic nominee would still win.

This is why juicing rural turnout to unheard of numbers is the key for the GOP, and it’s why the Democratic machine revving up again in Clark may be important if the race is close.

----Independents and third parties now make up 30 percent of the active voters in the state. And indies are like Republicans in rural Nevada. How they vote in Clark and Washoe will decide the race, I’d guess.

Updated, 3:00 PM, 9/30/20

A few words today about Nevada’s pair of supposedly competitive congressional districts now held by Democrats Susie Lee (CD3) and Steven Horsford (CD4):

CD3 is considered Nevada’s swing district, drawn 20 years ago specifically for then-GOP state Sen. Jon Porter and expected to become more Republican as suburban growth occurred. Indeed, Porter won the seat in 2002 and was re-elected twice. But the district has been held by three Democrats and two Republicans during its history, and the registration has remained slightly in the Democrats’ favor.

As you can see from the table below, the district has become slightly more Democratic since Lee crushed perennial contender Danny Tarkanian in 2018 – and the Democratic margin has grown there since January:

CD3 D R O D advantage
Election Day 2018 161,826 154,762 127,797 1.6%
36.4% 34.8% 28.8%
Beginning of 2020 166,709 155,801 135,690 2.4%
36.4% 34.0% 29.6%
Now 179,110 165,296 149,280 2.8%
36.3% 33.5% 30.2%

Still, President Donald Trump won the district by a point even as Democrat Jacky Rosen was winning the seat in 2016. So it was considered competitive this cycle. The GOP’s failure to recruit a top-tier candidate has left the party with ex pro wrestler Dan Rodimer, who would have to grab a significant portion of independent voters to win. Indies are now more than 30 percent of the registered voters in the district.

CD4 is a substantially Democratic district that encompasses parts of seven counties but 88 percent of the voters are in Clark. That part of the district is overwhelmingly Democratic – 50,000 more Democrats than Republicans out of 351,000. So if a Democrat can build up a substantial enough lead in Clark, the rural parts of the district essentially become irrelevant. The only time in its 10-year history that a Republican won was in an off-year, 2014, when then-Assemblyman Cresent Hardy upset Horsford.

I know Jim Marchant, this year’s GOP nominee. Jim Marchant is no Cresent Hardy. Hardy was a respected, veteran legislator; Marchant was in Carson City for one term and was never more than a backbencher.

As you can see from the table below, the Democratic edge has shrunk slightly since 2018:

CD4 D R O D advantage
Election Day 2018 160,678 124,101 106,761 9.3%
41.0% 31.7% 27.3%
Beginning of 2020 162,114 125,072 110,989 9.3%
40.7% 31.4% 27.9%
Now 170,155 131,630 119,633 9.1%
40.4% 31.2% 28.4%

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won this district by 5 percentage points as Ruben Kihuen was defeating Rep. Hardy by 4 points. Turnout is going to be huge this year in Nevada, so an underfunded, second-tier candidate such as Marchant would need a miracle to win. The only way a Republican can win this district -- all other things being equal -- would be in a low turnout year and one in which the rurals with their higher participation became more relevant. That’s how Hardy won.

I’ll start plugging in actual numbers when returned mail ballots start being recorded, perhaps as early as next week but at the latest by mid-October. I will be able to spot any odd trends right away. (I knew Horsford was in trouble in 2014 after just a few days of early voting, which starts Oct. 17 this year.)

----Update on Clark registration: As I write this, the Dems are up to 152,500 – an increase of 300 from when I posted Tuesday. The Dem machine is clearly humming along again in the homestretch.

I decided to redo the model by estimating what the deactivated voters during the primary – the ones that were placed back on the active rolls after a technical error – would do to the turnout models I provided in my initial post. Almost all of them will not vote because they are not at their last known addresses. It could make about a point of difference – compare to the first table below in the initial blog post.

A reminder of what the columns mean:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90/90/40-50 90/90/50-45 90/90/45-50
Biden 654,563 673,813 635,313 673,813 654,563
Trump 600,375 581,125 619,625 600,375 619,625
Rest 86,313 86,313 86,313 67,063 67,063
Biden 49% 50% 47% 50% 49%
Trump 45% 43% 46% 45% 46%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Margin 54,188 92,688 15,688 73,438 34,938

New statewide registration figures coming out tomorrow. I’ll tell you what they mean when I see them.

Note: This post was corrected at 3:45 PM to properly reflect the 2016 results in CD4. And also I corrected the CD4 spreadsheet (math errors are going to happen, and I appreciate my readers' vigilance) and Marchant's terms. He was there for even less of a cup of coffee than I recalled.

Updated, 3:45 PM, 9/29/20

A few quick notes this afternoon, loyal blog followers:

----If you are interested when ballots go out in Nevada -- Douglas County mailed theirs last week -- the secretary of state is tracking it here. Three more rural counties mailed today, three more mail Wednesday, Washoe County mails Friday, Clark County next week. The SOS will be tracking all the ballots as they come back, and I will tell you what those numbers mean.

----I will do some more modeling soon based on changing registration -- the SOS will post new numbers Oct. 1. I am going to use the SOS numbers, but I will also keep warning you of the caveat that they are slightly favorable to the Dems because the Clark numbers are artificially inflated because of voters rendered inactive after the primary. (They can vote if they are around, but the fact that their mail ballots were returned means they are likely gone.)

----The Clark firewall is starting to grow. It is up to a 153,200-voter lead for the Dems as I type this. I'll try to provide regular updates. But it's clear that the same third parties on the ground in 2016 and 2018 are back out there, surely wearing masks as they register voters...

Updated, 1:30, 9/28/20

The Democratic registration machine, sidelined for six months or so, appears to have kicked into gear again in Clark County as the Culinary and other groups are in the field. The fruits of their labor are beginning to show.

To wit:

The Democrats have once again surmounted 153,000 in their lead over Republicans in Clark County. They have picked up more than 500 voters since last week. That's not huge, but the Republicans had been gaining for a month or more. Remember, though, the lead is inflated by about 14,000 inactive voters because of a technical error by the Clark registrar -- those voters are on the rolls, but they are not expected to vote.

But the point is if the Dem machine, from the party to outside groups, is revved up again, that could make a substantial difference. Remember one of my mantras: Demographics are not destiny, but they matter.

In Washoe County, the Democrats, who took the lead before the pandemic but lost it once the Dem machine shut down, are behind by nearly 1,000 voters to the Republicans. Out of more than 291,000 total voters. Less than half a percent.

Washoe IS the swing county in Nevada.

More to come soon...


First post, published, 2 AM, 9/27/20

Elections are about many things — candidates, campaigns, issues. 

But, ultimately, elections are about math.

This maxim I have repeated year after year, and that is what this early voting blog has been about since its inception: Keeping everyone abreast of numbers to watch as Nevadans turn out to vote. They are remarkably predictive because so many voters in Nevada are in the habit of casting ballots before Election Day, and, frankly, because I have studied the trends and data for decades. I have learned to recognize trends, know where the votes are and make relatively accurate forecasts.

In 2014, I was able to predict the coming red wave – the Republicans swept the state – after only a few days of early voting. I thought that a couple of high-profile Democrats might hang on (Ross Miller for AG and Steven Horsford for Congress), but even they lost in huge upsets. The GOP took both swing congressional seats, all constitutional offices and swept into legislative supremacy.

In 2016, I declared Hillary Clinton had won the state a few days before Election Day. The Democrats had banked so many votes in early voting that even a potent Election Day performance could not save Donald Trump. Republicans did well on Election Day, which is why Trump only lost by 2.5 points. But it was over by the Friday before the election.

In 2018, by the end of early voting, I showed how uphill the climb was for Republicans. I knew that Dean Heller and Adam Laxalt were well behind, and it turned out to be as the data indicated. Election Day turnout could not save either one, and the Democratic sweep indicated by the data came to pass, almost resulting in a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature.

Math is not like candidates or their ads; it does not lie.

I share all of this not to brag about my oracular brilliance — well, maybe a little — but to show how this blog’s data collection and experienced analysis has proven valuable and accurate in the past. Of course, 2020 is different.

Probably. Maybe.

I am starting the blog early this year, before any vote totals are available, because of all of the uncertainty and because of all the noise created by the president and his accomplices about how the election will work here. I want to set some baselines and make a few data points clear before the volume of the static gets any louder.

Election officials in Nevada are some of the best in the country, and they are preparing for possible chaos. But they are used to dealing with a lot of voting before Election Day, although not usually because of mail ballots, which have gone out in Douglas County, will go out in a handful of others next week and will be mailed in Clark County on Oct. 7.

It’s possible as many voters will have done their civic duty before Nov. 3 as in past elections, just in a different way. Absentee ballots usually are less than 10 percent of the total; this cycle they could be half or more.

In case you don’t know, early voting is huge in Nevada. Here are the percentages of early votes (mail and in-person) from the last four cycles:

2012: 69 percent statewide – 61 percent early votes and 8 percent mail votes. (In Clark, where the Dems always try to build a firewall, it was 70 percent – 63 percent early votes and 7 percent mail.)

2014: 55 percent statewide – 48 percent early votes and 7 percent mail. (In Clark, it was 56 percent – 50 percent early votes and 6 percent mail.)

2016: 69 percent statewide – 62.5 percent early votes and 6.5 percent mail ballots. (In Clark, it was also 69 percent – 64 percent early votes and 5 percent mail.)

2018: 66 percent statewide – 57 percent early votes and 9 percent mail ballots. (In Clark, 65 percent -- 58 percent early votes and 7 percent mail.)

2014 was an aberration — a midterm election where the Democratic machine sputtered. But in the two presidential years and last cycle, the Clark firewall was enough for the Democratic top of the ticket and down-ballot to be successful. And in 2012 and 2016, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton won the state, the Clark early/mail totals exceeded two-thirds of the total vote.

So: With relatively few votes to be cast on Election Day, if the Democrats build up a robust enough Clark firewall during early voting, the GOP can’t win. Not all of those Democrats will vote for the nominee, but an overwhelming majority will, and that was enough in 2012 and 2016.

For those of you unfamiliar with or forgetful about how elections work here, Nevada is three regions when it comes to dissecting numbers: Clark (about 70 percent of total voters), dominated by Democrats; Washoe (about 18 percent of total), close in registration between the major parties; and the rurals (about 12 percent of total), dominated by Republicans. You can see from the chart below just how dominant Clark County is, moving from 68 percent of the total voter registration in 2012 to more than 70 percent now. Washoe and the rurals have both fallen slightly since 2012.

Part of the story this year, though, is how Democratic registration in Clark has not moved a lot in the last six months because of the pandemic. By now, the Democrats would have been destroying the Republicans every month, pulling out to an insurmountable lead. They are still way ahead, and the Republicans are essentially a third party in Clark as this chart shows:

But there are telling stats to keep in mind:

----The Democrats had a 134,000-voter lead in Clark a year ago. By mid-March, aided by a new motor-voter law and its own formidable machine, that number was 153,000. And then the pandemic hit. The lead is now 153,000 — essentially unchanged. But, in reality, it’s actually even lower — it’s just under 140,000 — because 75,000 Clark County voters were rendered inactive after the primary but technically stayed on the active rolls because the locals missed a federal deadline to remove them. The chart below shows it quite starkly — I have subtracted the de facto inactives to show the drop of the lead by about 14,000 voters:

----What does this mean? The Democrats are only slightly better off than where they were a year ago, but still have a double-digit registration edge in Clark County, even if you use the 140,000-voters lead (the more accurate metric). That is an 11.5 percent advantage.

For comparison: In 2016, the lead was 142,000, which is about the same in raw numbers. But the percentage – 14 percent – was significantly higher because there were fewer voters on the rolls. (Barack Obama had firewalls of 15 percent both times he won the state.)

Hillary Clinton won Clark County by 82,000 votes, or 10.5 percent. That is too close for comfort for most statewide Democratic candidates, who must win Clark by 10 percent to win a statewide contest.

Clinton won the state by 27,000 votes after barely winning Washoe County and losing rural Nevada by nearly – wait for it – 60,000 votes. Nobody has ever crushed it in the rurals as Trump did. (Romney won the rurals by 40,000 votes.) This is why voter registration is so important and why the pandemic has been an unexpected blessing for the Republicans here in terms of voter numbers.

The bottom line: The Clark firewall is not what it was, not because of the GOP machine but because the Democrats have been handcuffed — and because of the rise of independent/third party voters, who now make up 30 percent of the Clark County electorate. That is more than the GOP (29 percent), which has been relegated to de facto third-party status in Southern Nevada.

It would have been much worse without COVID-19 for the Republicans. Look at what the Democrats did in the last three months of the cycle in 2012 and 2016 in voter registration:

2012: 56,000-voter lead to 90,000-voter lead

2016: 72,000 to 90,000

The statewide lead now is about what it was the last two presidential cycles — about 90,000. That is about 5.5 percent. In 2012, it was more than 7 percent; in 2016, it was more than 6 percent.

----There is another metric to consider, which is the percentage of turnout in each area of the state. See what happened the last two presidential cycles:

2012 Statewide turnout Clark turnout Washoe turnout Rural turnout
Turnout 81.0% 81.0% 78.0% 82.6%
% overall turnout 68.1% 18.5% 13.4%
% turnout relative to registration numbers 0.4% -0.7% 0.3%
2016 Statewide turnout Clark turnout Washoe turnout Rural turnout
Turnout 76.7% 75.2% 79.4% 81.1%
% overall turnout 68.1% 18.7% 13.2%
% turnout relative to registration numbers -1.4% 0.7% 0.7%

Rural Nevada always turns out in greater numbers (by percentage) than the urban areas, and there is reason to believe rural turnout could be stratospheric this cycle. Douglas County, an ultra-red county in Northern Nevada, had 94 percent turnout in 2016! It is the only county to send out mail ballots so far, and my guess is nearly every voter in that county – and there are 37,000 of them, about 8,000 more than 2016 – will cast a ballot. That could matter. Trump won Douglas by 9,000 votes in 2016. He will win it by even more this time, I’d guess.

----One of the reasons voter registration is so important is that the Republicans almost always have an edge in turnout, usually slightly more than the Democrats here. That is why the Democrats work so hard to build up a registration lead. Let me show you what happened in 2012 and 2016:

2012 % overall % of base
Dem turnout 42.0% 81.6%
GOP turnout 36.0% 84.8%
Others turnout 21.0% 72.4%
Voter reg margins D R O
Actual registration 526,986 436,799 293,836
41.9% 34.7% 23.4%
Turnout relative to reg 0.1% 1.3% -2.4%
2016 % overall % of base
Dem turnout 40.1% 78.2%
GOP turnout 35.9% 82.7%
Others turnout 23.9% 67.7%
Voter reg margins D R O
Actual registration 577,679 488,861 398,279
39.4% 33.4% 27.2%
Turnout relative to reg 0.7% 2.5% -3.3%

You can see why the election was relatively close in Nevada in 2016: because of that difference in Democratic and Republican turnout relative to registration. The Democrats had banked enough votes before Election Day that even a robust Election Day performance was not enough for the GOP.

Will that happen this time? That’s what this blog is here to track.

----As the ballots get returned and especially after early voting starts Oct. 17, I will continuously model what the electorate could look like. Let me show you an example based on current registration and with some assumptions:

The table below shows five different scenarios if the election were held today and both parties turned out 85 percent of their bases and 80 percent of other voters turned out. Remember how many uncertainties exist because mail balloting substantially increases this cycle. But for the sake of argument:

The first column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and split others evenly, 45 percent to 45 percent.

The second column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-40.

The third column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-40.

The fourth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Biden won indies, 50-45

The fifth column shows what would happen if both candidates received votes from 90 percent of their bases and the other candidate got 5 percent of the others and Trump won indies, 50-45.

(One note on these initial models: They use registration figures including the inflated Clark County active voter figures -- I am going to get the actual number of de facto inactive voters in Clark and adjust future models accordingly.)

90-90-45/45 90-90-50/40 90/90/40-50 90/90/50-45 90/90/45-50
Biden 690,710 710,496 670,925 710,496 690,710
Trump 624,576 604,790 644,361 624,576 644,361
Rest 90,053 90,053 90,053 70,267 70,267
Biden 49% 51% 48% 51% 49%
Trump 44% 43% 46% 44% 46%
Rest 6% 6% 6% 5% 5%
Margin 66,135 105,706 26,563 85,920 46,349

So how could Trump win?

If he won indies by 20 points and both parties got 90 percent of their bases, here’s what would happen:

90-90-35-55
Biden 651,139
Trump 664,147
Rest 90,053
Biden 46%
Trump 47%
Rest 6%
Margin 13,008

That’s just a taste. Obviously Biden or Trump could get less or more of their bases, and others could turn out more or less than 80 percent. I will have many more permutations as the votes come in, and I can model more accurately based on the turnout and projected turnout.

But you can see why the registration edge matters because in those scenarios, Biden wins every time, and you can also see that how indies break matters so much — even if Trump were to win others here by 10 percent, if Biden holds his base, the president would lose as things stand today.

When ballots start getting returned, I will be updating this blog at least once a day and likely more than once. For now, I will add to it when I find something interesting such as registration changes.

This installment is focused on the presidential race, but I will have updates soon on the supposedly competitive congressional races and the legislative contests.

Feel free to email me at [email protected]. I will do my best to answer all questions.

Welcome to the early voting blog!

If you appreciate Jon's early voting blog posts, please donate to our nonprofit.

Comment Policy (updated 10/4/19): Please keep your comments civil. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, use an excess of profanity, make verifiably false statements or are otherwise nasty.
correct us
ideas & story tips