Published Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 | 8:28 a.m.
Updated Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 | 11:28 a.m.
Republicans lost ground to the Democrats in the urban counties on the largest and last day of early voting Friday, surely giving Democrats hope that a surge to blunt the GOP momentum could carry over into Election Day.
The GOP still maintained a lead relative to registration in urban Nevada, but Democrats kept it to under 4 percent. When the rural data is in, as well as Washoe absentees, the statewide turnout advantage for the GOP is expected to be closer to 3 percent. In 2006, after Election Day, the GOP had a 6 percent turnout advantage, but the Democrats did not have a 5 percent edge in statewide registration, as they do now. And upwards of 65 percent of the overall turnout already has occurred.
The Democrats have nearly a 9 percentage point edge in Clark County (25,000 votes) – that’s almost 4 percentage points under their registration edge. To put this in perspective, in the last competitive race Sen. Harry Reid had -- against John Ensign in 1998 (he won by 400 votes) -- Reid won Clark County by less than 7 percentage points. And Reid lost Washoe County 12 years ago – although by a small margin – and that northern, urban county could be key: Is Sharron Angle holding her home base or is she hemorrhaging Republicans, as some polls have shown? If Reid wins Washoe County, he could blunt large losses in rural Nevada, which will make up 15 to 20 percent of the overall tally. Election Day will be pivotal in Washoe, which usually turns out greater than Clark – the northerners lag behind in early voting but turn out in greater percentage numbers on Election Day. It’s harder to tell this year because the early voting totals are so high, but Washoe turnout Tuesday is going to be pivotal.
The total turnout in the last two midterms was about 59 percent, so the rural counties will bring it up by having turnout percentages that generally are over 60 percent and some over 70 percent. How large a percentage the rurals are of the overall turnout also will be key.
If you look at the blizzard of numbers below, what stands out is that the Republicans are up over 40 percent already in urban Nevada and their advantage gradually diminished as early voting ended. Is it reasonable to assume that the enthusiasm in the GOP started early and is now tapped out? Or will they still come out in force on Tuesday? The GOP usually wins Election Day, but it now appears as if as much as two-thirds of the turnout already has occurred, so it will only have a marginal impact.
Here are some numbers, to put this all in perspective:
Makeup of the early voting electorate:
D: 46.3 percent (actual registration is just under that)
R: 37.6 percent (actual registration is 33 percent)
Rest: 16.1 percent (actual registration is about 20 percent)
Past midterms and overall turnout:
2006: 56 percent
2002: 57 percent
2006: 63 percent
2002: 58 percent
Total Clark early voting percentages relative to registration:
Democrats: 35.6 percent
Republicans: 39.6 percent
Total Clark with mail ballots added (Democrats now have a 2,300-ballot lead):
Democrats: 39.9 percent
Republicans: 44.6 percent
Independents/others: 29.5 percent
Total urban early vote:
Democrats: 147,286 (34.9 percent)
Republicans: 127,487 (38.5 percent)
Total urban early vote (including absentees in Clark):
Democrats: 161,881 (38.4 percent)
Republicans: 139,717 (42.2 percent)
For numbers geeks:
Friday: Dems, 16,315 Rs, 11,733 rest, 6,102
Early: Dems, 119,372; Rs, 96,541 rest, 42,415
Mail: Dems, 14,595; Rs, 12,230 rest, 3,914
Combined: Dems, 133,967 Rs, 108,771 rest, 46,329
Ds: 27,914 (32.4 percent)
Rs: 30,946 (35.6 percent)