Republican Early Vote Continues to Gain in Clark County, Nevada

Update: Deepest apologies.  I’ve been staring at too many spreadsheets lately and made a major screw-up.  The previous version of this included the election day tallies in the early vote calculation which is why there was such a large spike on the final day.  The numbers below have been corrected.

In 2008 Barack Obama won Nevada by 121k votes. Nevada is unique to most states in that it is really no more than 3 areas, Clark County (Las Vegas), Washoe County (Reno) and everyone else in between. In 2008 Clark accounted for 67% of the vote, Washoe accounted for 19% of the vote and the rest of the state accounted for 14%. President Obama won Clark by 123.7k and Washoe by 22.8k but lost the rest of the state by 25k (effectively cancelling out Washoe).  For these reasons Clark County gets the lion’s share of attention although Washoe gets its fair share.  The increased focus on early voting also shares this focus with Republican’s chances of carrying Nevada depend greatly on their ability to stay close in Democrat-heavy Clark (“minding the gap’), while trying to flip Washoe back into the GOP fold and running up leads everywhere else.

Greatly assisting the Democrats’ win were huge margins in early voting turnout. By election day in 2008 the Democrats’ aggregate advantage over Republicans was 83,633 ballots cast, 69% of their final margin. We know a cast party ballot doesn’t necessarily mean it was cast for that party but for simplicity sake we assume each side has the same base and crossover support. The key for Republicans obviously will be to “mind the gap” in early voting where Obama achieved most of his success. Early voting in Nevada only started a couple days ago and after the first day of returns I created a rather crude model for how the rest of early voting could go based on the 2008 historical information.  Although the model was basic, assumptions were honest based on precedent and conservative based on the available data.

The assumptions were as follows:

  • Democrat turnout after Day 1 would average 97% of the day 1 result consistent with 2008
  • Republican turnout as a share of the Democrat turnout would increase it at a rate of 2.4 percentage points (pp) every day consistent with 2008

After Day 1 our model expected the Democrat advantage in Clark County heading into election day would be 81,786, below the 86,607 margin in 2008.  This would eat into Obama’s overall margin by approximately 4%.

We now have the Day 2 results for Clark County and my conservative assumptions have proven to be just that.  Rather than a 2.4pp increase in the day-over-day change in Republican vote proportional to the Democrat vote, it jumped 13pp.  Additionally Democrats saw a steep drop-off  in the day-over-day change in turn-out falling -29pp in Day 1 while Republicans only trailed off by -11pp.

By simply plugging the new actual #s into the model and changing no other assumptions, we now crudely forecast a final early vote margin in favor of Democrats of 76,963. This is 4,823 less than yesterday and 6670 less than 2008 — an 8% decline.

Not shown in the charts is that in raw #s the aggregate lead of Democrats on Day 2 in 2008 was 16,385 versus today where it is 13,295 — a 3090 actual ballot decrease in only the first two days of early voting.

We see after two days of early voting in Clark County Republicans are slowly eating into what proved to be Democrats’ insurmountable lead in 2008. This is all before considering the two other segments of Nevada where all indications show Republicans greatly outstripping their 2008 efforts. If anyone has Washoe’s 2008 daily early voting #s by party I’d be happy to run them as well. [Thanks to one hell of a guy, I have the Washoe #s] Two days of early voting doesn’t mean Nevada will flip from blue to red, but Republicans are clearly on the right path towards “minding the gap” in Clark County.


  1. John Fisher
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well done! This will be quite fun (hopefully) to track over the next 14 days.

  2. MikeN
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The problem is Republicans declined rather than improved.
    What if you freeze D at the new 13013? That would take away 58000 votes.
    If you give Republicans 10% declines each day, they lose 120,000 votes.

    • housebroken dad
      Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I believe that’s consistant with how 2008 turned out. Day 2 they went down but then each day after that either held steady or increased their total number of votes.

    • Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Wow MikeN you sure are a sour puss. Please click on the original link to get a sense of how the early vote #s trend from 2008. Yes there is a dropoff after day one but it bounces around after that. I hope you were mostly kidding with that comment because extrapolating that way has no basis in reality unlike the assumptions I outlined,

      • damien
        Posted October 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        I think it might be Ralston lol

      • Posted October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        LOLOLOL … Ok, that’s funny … MikeN is now forgiven 🙂

      • MikeN
        Posted October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        Your original estimate was for vote gains each day.

      • MikeN
        Posted October 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        OK, I see now that day 2 was down 5%, but then a big jump in day 3 that then drops down by half. I’ll give Republicans two days to show some gains.

  3. J
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Keith – I’ve included my email in the field below. Shoot me a message for Washoe County Numbers

  4. Kevin
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The major concern I have for Nevada is SEIU is contracted to run the voting machines.

    No wonder Harry Reid keeps getting reelected.

  5. Dave
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Going to put Day 3 voting in…. looks like Reps are gaining…. only about an 18K lead and your projection was 20K

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] Backer provides an excellent analysis of the current status of the Nevada early voting.  The bottom line is that the current trajectory […]

  2. […] previously created a crude model for early voting in Clark County and thanks to a helpful reader are able to construct a similar model using Washoe’s 2008 […]

  3. […] 2012, on the first day as I outlined in my prior Clark County post, the GOP solidly outpaced their Day 1 2008 performance.  Impressively they built on that in Day 2 […]

  4. […] Day 2: Republican Early Vote Continues to Gain in Clark County, Nevada […]

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