The expected Sunday early voting drop-off occurred in Washoe County with only 4326 total ballots cast (57% of the 2012 weekday average). Democrats cast 1932 ballots while Republicans cast 1519, for a 413 ballot advantage.The reality for the GOP is they are going to need to reverse the trends in early voting if they expect to meaningfully outpace Democrats in 2012. As it stands Democrats have a 1611 advantage in partisan ballots cast in 2012, down from 9376 at the same point in 2008 — a -7765 election-over-election reduction. The second week of early voting is expected to be at least 1/3 higher than the first week in Washoe so there are plenty of opportunities to not only make-up ground but quickly pass the Democrats. At this juncture until the GOP strings together a couple day-over-day wins in early voting they can only take solace in the tremendous reduction in Democrat advantage from 2008 but not a full reversal into a GOP advantage as was hoped for at the onset. One trend however does offer the GOP a reason for optimism. The Independent/Other turnout continues to climb in overall make-up of aggregate ballots cast. We’ll have to see a few more polls to confirm this is good for Romney, but if he continues to carry this group by sizable percentages he may well have more banked votes than we realize at this point.
The Washoe Model
We are going to administer some “final” tweaks to the Washoe model and do much the same for Clark County. Many of the model’s original assumptions were made using only one day’s actual data plus a few trends gleaned from the 2008 results. We now have 9 days data of actual 2012 turnout which gives us a better sense of what is actually happening on the ground in Nevada. Therefore we are going to use the 2012 weekday average Democrat turnout (3115) from last week as the base for the expected ramp-up in 2012 turnout during the coming week. The daily ramp-up percentage will be the differential between the 2008 first week average daily gross turnout (6639) and daily 2nd week gross turnout (Mon: 117%, Tues: 140%, Wed: 153%, Thur: 184%, Fri: 165%). With dramatic increases in turnout throughout the second week it becomes that much more imperative for Republicans to outpace Democrats during the stretch run. The expected daily growth rate of the GOP turnout is the toughest figure to get a handle on. After coming out of the gate strong the subsequent fade makes putting a reasonable number here with any certainty nearly impossible. Excepting the Sunday results with its unusually small sample-size out outlier negative growth, the rate of change in the GOP’s performance is low (+2%) but at least positive. We will leave it at that for now but may adjust after Tuesday’s data is released. With these new assumptions, the model expects the Democrats to end early voting with a 1126 advantage in ballots cast — down from 11,978 in 2008.