by Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent, October 18, 2022, Updated November 3, 2022
Updated, 11/3/22, 9 AM
Good morning, faithful readers.
Twelve days of early voting in the books, and I think it’s safe to say now after years of watching these numbers/trends: The Dems are in trouble in Nevada.
The reason is simple: Mail is way down in Clark County from 2020, and the numbers are just not big enough to boost the Clark firewall after the GOP wins in-person early voting every day.
Large (relatively speaking) in-person turnouts on Wednesday in both urban counties, which helped the GOP hold its own amid a still-lagging mail turnout. Clark was a combined plus 1,000 ballots for the Dems, who lost a couple of hundred ballots in Washoe. Not great, Bob!
It’s far from over, but consider:
The Dems now have a 1.5 percent lead statewide, which is half of what their reg lead is in the state. It’s about 7,000 ballots out of 476,000 reported. (It’s actually slightly lower than that because I don’t have updated numbers for Douglas and Carson, two of the Big Five rurals — Lyon, Nye and Elko are the others — that make up almost 80 percent of rural registration.)
That is a thin margin for error, and if the mail doesn’t pour in, the rurals will continue to play an outsize role. The math is inexorable, folks:
Clark Dem firewall: 24,000
Rural GOP lead: 18,400
That’s only a 5,600-ballot difference.
The Clark firewall is only 7.4 percent, more than 2 points under the Dem reg lead there. It was 47,000 at the end of early voting in 2018; it’s very unlikely the Dems get even close to that by the end of tomorrow.
This is not looking much like 2018 anymore, unless it is 2018 in reverse: The Dems have a small statewide ballot lead after Friday, but the winds are blowing against the party of the president, so the Election Day trends go the other way four years later.
And remember: If the rurals are voting as they usually do, the actual vote lead there is larger for the GOP, maybe as high as 22,000 votes. So even if the firewall lead translates into a concomitant vote lead — a big IF this year — that would be only a 2,000-ballot lead for a Democratic candidate there right now.
And that would mean – drum roll, please – Washoe is the decider.
The Dems lost ground in Washoe on Wednesday — the lead there now is about 1,500 votes, or about 3 percent. That’s not a lot of margin of error, either, even if the Dem ballot lead translates into an actual vote lead, which ain’t necessarily so.
You can see now that if the Dems don’t hold their own with indies, they are going to lose unless there is substantial R base bleeding. Sure, that’s possible, but have I mentioned the margin for error?
Let me show you the models now, and you can see the gap slowly closing even in the more optimistic scenarios (although if Dems are actually winning indies, that’s a different story):
—If both parties were to hold 90 percent of their bases and tie among indies, the Dem candidate would win 48.1-46.9. 1.2 percent, Dems.
—If the Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base than Dems and indies are tied, it’s 46.9-46.2, Repubs. .7 percent, Repubs.
—If Repubs win indies by 5, and bases hold, it’s 47.5-47.3, Dems. .2 percent, Dems.
—If Repubs hold 5 percent more of their base and win indies by 5, it’s 49.3-45.5, GOP. 3.8 percent, Repubs.
—If Repubs win indies by 10, and bases hold, it’s 48.0-47.0, Repubs. 1 percent, Repubs.
—If Repubs have a 5 percent base advantage and win indies by 10, it’s 49.6-45.4 GOP. 4.2 percent, Repubs.
So the Dems are now winning in only two of the six models, and one just barely. Sure, you have to buy certain assumptions, and they are bound to be off a bit. But if they are not off any more than a bit, this election is slowly moving away from Dem candidates.
(Yes, I know some have terrible opponents and some may be able to get more crossovers. But — and this is the phrase of the day — they have no margin for error.)
I want to return to a metric I have been talking about for almost two weeks: The Dem urban lead:
The current number is actually 41.6-35.4, so closer to 6 percent and that is as big a danger sign for the Dems as anything else. If they can’t push that lead above 7 points, that will be cause for a lot of teeth-gnashing among the Dem campaigns up and down the ticket.
As for turnout, the problem for the Ds becomes evident when you see that Clark is turning out at nearly 3 percent below its actual share of state registration. The rurals are right at registration, and Washoe is about 3 points above.
Washoe.: The Decider.
Overall turnout is just under 26 percent. If you saw my turnout extrapolations, I suggested that 650,000 after Friday’s balloting would be a lot, and it looks as if that number may indeed be high. There is no reason yet to believe turnout will get much past 60 percent, which means about 43 percent of the vote is in.
Maybe the Rs are cannibalizing their vote in the early going, and Election Day will not be so GOP-friendly. But that’s a lot for the Ds to hope for at this point. And if they thought Barack Obama could change the dynamic here for the Ds, the real hope and change now lies with the GOP.
More when I have it.
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Updated, 11/2/22, 6 PM
Let us discuss the question of overall turnout and what it will be. Here is an extrapolation devoutly to be wished:
We now have 430,000 people whose ballots have been reported. That’s 23 percent.
With the unpredictability of mail processing in Clark, this is not an easy task. But let’s try:
Clark in-person vote has consistently been at 10-12,000 a day. Let’s take the high side and say 12K a day for the next three days. That’s 36K. Let’s assume maybe there is a surge and say it gets to 45K. (I want to be off on the high side here.)
Clark mail was 18K Tuesday. Let’s say it is the same the remaining thee days — that’s 54K. Again, let’s go high and say 70K.
Washoe in-person has been about 3,000-3,500 a day. Take the high side and that gets us to 10.5K over the next three days. Let’s say it’s actually 15K.
Washoe mail has been about 5K a day, but was 8K on Tuesday. Let’s take that number and say we get 24K through Friday. And let’s say, for the sake of this extrapolation, it makes it to 35K.
Finally, the rurals: A little harder to read because of incomplete data, but let’s say it’s 3K a day, maybe 5K. So 15K by end of Friday. Let’s call it 25K.
So add up these very high projections and you get:
I think these are off a bit, but hard to believe it gets higher than this: The total is 190K on top of the 430K we have, and that is 620K. Let’s go up one more time and say it ends up being 650K.
So that would mean turnout was 35 percent at the end of early voting.
I do all of this numbers-pumping to show that even if it is 35 percent, and even if significant mail pours in after Friday – and it might – that would take a turnout of 460,000 people, or 25 percent, after the end of early voting to get to 60 percent turnout. Let’s say 75,000 are mail ballots that come in after Friday, which would mean 385K on Election Day to get to 60 percent.
That would be 21 percent. Possible? Sure.
Here is Election Day the last few cycles:
2020 (first year mail ballot sent to all voters): 11 percent
2018: 34 percent
2016: 31 percent
2014 (red wave year): 44 percent
This year doesn’t look anything like 2014 or 2020 – at least not yet – and it is closest to 2018. So does it seem reasonable that 21 percent could turn out Tuesday? Maybe.
I just get the sense so many people are mailing it in that it will not be that high. But maybe there is a horde of Republicans just waiting for Tuesday.
My estimates on remaining early in-person turnout range from relatively conservative – 124K – to quite expansive – 220K. Let’s split the difference and say it is 175K. That would be a total of 605K, or 33 percent. if 75K more mail ballots came in, making it 680K, that would mean you need 400K-plus on Election Day to get to 60 percent, or 22 percent.
I know, I know: Too many numbers, give you the bottom line!
All of this simply illuminates how important Election Day turnout could be this time in deciding races, as could the number of mail ballots that come in AFTER Nov. 8. (Ugh)
I still think 60 percent is a good educated guess. But I will track this every day and possibly revise the estimates above.
It’s hard to understand for people wanting certainty and twits and partisans on Twitter tendentiously misreading, but we just don’t have enough data yet. But we can have fun with numbers, can’t we?
We will soon, I hope…