28 October 2012

Nevada early voting update - Obama "lock" is close at hand



The early voting stats from Nevada are telling a very direct story, just as they did in 2008.


First, from the state SOS website: 1,257,621 Registered Active voters.

DEM: 526,986 (41.90%)
GOP: 436,799 (34.73%)
Am. Independent: 58,130 (4.62%)
Libertarian: 8,448 (0.67%)
Other: 6,773 (0.53%)
Green: 1,886 (0.12%)

Unaffiliated: 219,299 (17.43%)

Margin: D + 7.17%, +90,187 registered voters

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Now, onto the early voting.

Here are the stats, as of 10/27, 11:00 PST:   301,307 early ballots already turned in for the entire state. That is 23.96% of the state already. Early voting goes one more week.

Breakdown of those 301,307 votes, by party affiliation:

Dem: 138,934 (46.11% of early ballots, 26.36% of all registered DEMS in NV)
GOP:  109,035 (36.18% of early ballots, 24.96% of all registered DEMS in NV)
other: 55,338 -impossible to gauge according to minor parties.

Margin in early voting, by party affiliation: DEM +9.93%, +29,899 votes by party affiliation statewide.

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Why is Clark County (Las Vegas) so unbelievably important in all of this?

Of those 1,257,621 Registered Active Voters in NV,  851,803 (67.73% of the entire state) are from Clark County.

But the more important breakdowns are from Clark County itself:

Total early ballots, Clark County: 211,327

DEM (Clark County): 105,485 early votes of  390,277 = 27.03% of DEMS in Clark County, 12.38% of all voters in Clark County, 49.91% of all early ballots in Clark County.

GOP (Clark County): 67,549 early votes of 262,806 = 24.56% of  GOP in Clark County,  7.93% of all voters in Clark County, 31.96% of all early ballots in Clark County.

other (Clark County): 38,293 early votes - impossible to gauge according to party, but 18.13% of all early ballots in Clark County.

Margin: DEM +17.95%,  +37,936 votes in Clark County.

So, let's put that together:

The Democrats have a +7.17% voter registration edge in Nevada, but in the early voting statewide, they currently have a +9.93% edge. And in Clark County, which decides who wins Nevada, they currently have a +17.95% edge.

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Why is Washoe County so important?

Of those 1,257,621 Registered Active Voters in NV,  211,327 (16.80% of the entire state) are from Washoe County (Reno).

Washoe County is the 2nd largest county in NV. Together with Clark County, they account for about 85% (84.53%) of the statewide vote.


Total early ballots, Washoe County: 52,589
Total Registered Voters (Active), Washoe County:  211,327

DEM (Washoe County): 22,442 early votes of  52,589 = 42.67% of all early ballots in Washoe County.

GOP (Washoe County): 21,402 early votes of 52,589 =  40.70% of all early ballots in Washoe County.

other (Washoe County): 8,745 early votes - impossible to gauge according to party, but , 16.63% of all early ballots in Washoe County.

Margin: DEM +1.97%,  +1,040 votes in Washoe County.
In 2008, Obama won Washoe County by +12.63%.




If you combine the totals for Clark and Washoe Counties together, then:

Both counties together account for 84.53% of all registered voters in NV.

Clark / Washoe: 263,916, of  301,307 total early ballots = 87.59% of all early ballots.
In 2008, Clark and Washoe Counties accounted for exactly 80.69% of all votes cast.

DEM early ballots, Clark / Washoe combined: 127,927 / 263,916 = 48.47%
GOP early ballots, Clark / Washoe combined:  88,951 / 263,916  = 33.70%
Other early ballots, Clark / Washoe combined: 47,038 / 263,916 = 17.83%

Margin: DEM +14.77%,  +38,976 votes in Washoe County.



Of course, this does not mean that every registered Democrat is going to cast a vote for Obama, nor does it mean that every Republican is going to cast a vote for Mitt Romney. But even if the usual scenario happens, where each candidate gets 90% of his base, 3% from the other party, then the balance will be pretty much the same.

But it is telling that the spread in Clark County is already at DEM +17.95%.

In 2008, Obama won this county (Las Vegas) by  +18.99%.  Here is a 6-county study of Nevada, going back to 1960. If you look at the excel page for Clark County, you will see that Obama won the county with the second highest DEM margin in 48 years, after LBJ in 1964. But back then, Vegas was a smaller city. It now really is 2/3 of the state.  Kerry also won Vegas, but only by +4.85%, not enough to offset the rest of the state, but to make it a close race against Bush. Gore won Vegas by +6.59% and that also was not enough to offset the rest of the state. However, Clinton won Clark County by +8.98% and +9.34% in 1992 and 1996, respectively, and he very narrowly won the state both times.

So, the rule of thumb is this:  a Democrat needs about a +10 win in Clark and Washoe Counties combined in order to guarantee a win in the state (That would be about +12 in Clark and a draw in Washoe). Why?

54% (10 point spread, with 3rd party vote) of 85% (Clark/Washoe Countis) = 45.90% of the total popular vote.  In order to get to 50%, a Democratic candidate therefore only needs 4.11% from the entire rest of the state in order to win. That translates to about about 28% of the vote in other fourteen counties. That means that he can get creamed in all the other counties and still win the state. 

In short, a 12% margin in Clark County and a moderate loss in Washoe County makes it so that there are simply not enough votes, let alone Republican votes, in the remaining smaller counties to offset the difference.

The WALL STREET JOURNAL published something about this phenomenon in 2008 at the end of October. The numbers then looked very much like they do now.

If this kind of early voting progresses through this week, then by Friday, if Obama is still up by +17 or +18 in the early voting in Clark County, I can pretty much pronounce an Obama "lock" on the state. I am sure that the Romney statisticians are all too aware of this and for this reason, we have not seen Romney in Nevada very much.

Like I wrote, the votes have not yet been counted, but historically, the candidates have gotten about 90% of their base. Here are the exit polls from 2008 / and / 2004 for Nevada, to prove that point.



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