Nevada's Early Vote: Political Posturing and Forecasting

In Nevada, early voting started on Saturday. Democrats, their cohorts, and the posturing pundits make ample entertainment as they digest two days of voter totals and force them into their narrowly designed modeling.


Here in Las Vegas, I’ve seen every sports handicapper do the same maneuvers. I just watched a local pub try to imagine how Tom Brady was going to overcome the Kansas City Chiefs’ insurmountable lead without ample time on the clock. Not to shade other sports fans, but some do make us suffer their rhetoric, until, with 17 seconds left on the clock, I dare to reflect it back at them: “So, can Tom Brady still do it?” 

With a Vegas-esque habit of using sports and gambling analogies in politics, I can tell you some didn’t check the point spread in this election. 

Voter Turnout

In the first two days of voting Clark County has had a 60% decrease in turnout. This had already been predicted but through the use of weather analogies.

On Saturday, the Guardian reported on the sentiments of Latino voters, especially regarding economic impacts:

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Melissa Morales, founder of Somos Votantes, a non-profit focused on encouraging Latino voter participation.

Yeah, I know. That’s what I wrote two weeks ago.

(Read More: Nevada Is the Perfect Political Storm and This Is Not a Drill)

NBC ran this headline: Nevada Democrats see signs of nightmare scenario: Latino voters staying home. Luckily, Masto didn’t take my free-of-charge observation that her all-in on abortion campaign was missing the mark, especially with Hispanic voters’ (estimated 20 percent of all voter turnout for midterms) top concern being the economy. 


NBC’s tagline reads:

“It’s what’s keeping me up at night,” said Melissa Morales, president of Somos PAC, which backs Cortez Masto.

In short, I have been talking about low voter turnout, the Latino vote, and messaging … and I was right as rain. I even correctly forecasted the idioms; not to rain on anyone’s parade.

Now, the local meteorologists, I mean media-ologists, are spitting into the wind to justify the numbers. The Nevada Independent reports the Clark County conditions:

—Turnout is way down. Some of it – much of it maybe – may be because of inclement weather in Clark County over the weekend. But it also may be true that even more voters – Democrats, Republicans and non-major party voters – will vote by mail this cycle.

How small is turnout? In 2020, after two days, more than 50,000 voters had cast ballots in person in Clark; in 2018, that number was almost 54,000. In 2022, that number is about 20,000. So in-person turnout, after two days in Clark, is about 40 percent of what it was the last two cycles, weather not permitting.

Mail is also way down, although we have to consider that they may just be counting it slower this cycle. It’s always hard to tell. But in 2020, the first batch was more than 100,000; the first one this cycle is about 40,000. Again, that is a huge difference.

Forget the weather: Is this a sign of mail coming in later or is turnout going to be much lower than the 1.2 million or so voters statewide many had anticipated? We still don’t know.


Well, following the weeks of media discussion about low turnout – followed by a low turnout – they point to the elements.

Mail Ballots

But, after feeling under the weather about voter turnout, the mail ballot counts broke two-to-one for Democrats – a fact only worth promoting with your head in the clouds.

The Nevada Independent reporter writes:

NEWS: This is a large batch of mail ballots and Dems are crushing Repubs in Clark County almost 2 to 1. Very similar to what happened in 2020: Early voting has slight edge to GOP and then Dems obliterate the lead. These are significant numbers after two days.

This leaves the independent votes, of Ralson’s own veneer of affiliation, as a big question mark. But, we aren’t in the dark. A poll published Sunday by American Greatness showed nonpartisan voters are giving incumbent Governor Steve Sisolak (D) a frosty reception and breaking for the Republican candidate, Joe Lombardo, by plus 24 points. The remaining 16 percent of the nonpartisan vote was not known.


So, let’s brainstorm. I subtracted 16 percent from the number of nonpartisan mail ballots and applied 54 percent and 30 percent of the remainder to the GOP and Dem votes, respectively. The new totals were GOP 14,789 (37%) and Dems 21,815 (55%). This makes it a 17-point spread, favoring Democrats, down from the previously reported 23-point lead. That margin of 17 points, is faced with 16 points of unknown, undecided, or third-party votes. Still, they should break for Republicans, citing Lombardo’s advantage. It’s hardly the heavens opening up for Democrats. In betting terms, that’s a push. In weather terms, it’s thin ice. Remember, early mail-in ballots in a county considered a blue strong-hold is not a portion of the vote totals Republicans expect to win.

Early In-Person Voting

Early in-person voting is often for retirees and senior citizens, favoring Republicans. Here’s The Indy’s analysis of the early vote in Clark:

Clark cumulative early vote:

Total: 19,257

D – 7,171 (37.2 percent)

R – 8,591 (44.6 percent)

O – 3,495 (18.1 percent)

So the raw R lead is about 1,400 votes. The Rs ended up winning early voting in Clark County in 2020 after losing the first two days by smaller margins than they have in past cycles. The final in-person early vote margin was 30,000 votes for the GOP, or about 7 percent. That is, about what it is today in percentage terms.


Throwing caution to the wind, the Republicans are winning the in-person early vote and are on par with last cycle’s outcome, meanwhile, this is a midterm election. And, that’s without the silver lining of the nonpartisan votes. Plain as day, Republicans aren’t expected to outright win Clark County, while it’s a breath of fresh air if we do. The idea is to not get blown out of the water, and let the rural counties carry Republicans through.

Come hell or high water, Republicans turn out on election day. Nevadans of every affiliation can take a rain check on a cause for celebration; this is the calm before the storm.


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