Tag Archives: Washoe County

Seven Battleground Counties to Watch on Election Night

Same original author as the earlier piece (Chris Palko) but an election night spin on each county with few repeats.  This guy does good work. Lots of smart info:

Looking for some shortcuts when it comes to projecting which candidate has the edge Tuesday night? Once returns start coming in, turn your focus to these seven counties—they will be small scale indicators of that state and national results:

Prince William County, VA
Virginia will be one of the first states to report results on Tuesday night, and Prince William County is the most important county there. Romney needs to win the county to win Virginia. George W. Bush and Bob McDonnell were able to win the county rather solidly. There has been an influx of immigrants in the past decade, and as a consequence it has a somewhat more Democratic lean than before. This will also be a good check to see if the Romney and Obama campaigns’ assumptions about the demographics of the electorate are correct.

Lake County, OH
This is the closest county in the most important state. Lake County is the eastern suburbs of Cleveland and the best gauge for how the entire state will vote. In 2004, Bush won the county by the same margin as he won the state. Obama ran a bit worse than his state percentages in 2008 but was able to win.  Watching Lake County is the best shortcut for projecting Ohio results on election night.

Bucks County, PA
In the critical suburban Philadelphia area, Chester County is most likely going for Romney and Montgomery and Delaware Counties will go for Obama. The swingiest of them all is Bucks County, north of Philadelphia.  Monday’s Romney rally that garnered some 30,000 supporters was held here for exactly that reason. In 2004, Bucks went for John Kerry by three percentage points, the exact same margin as the rest of the state. It has trended right in the past few years, as Republican Pat Toomey won the county 53 percent to 47 percent in his 2010 Senate race. Romney has to keep the margins close in suburban Philadelphia, and he has to win Bucks to do so.

Jefferson County, CO
In a heavily polarized state, the Denver suburbs hold the balance of power. Jefferson County, along with its suburban neighbors, voted for Bush in 2004 by small margins and then flipped to Obama in 2008. Romney had one of his most memorable campaign rallies at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is in Jefferson County. Whichever candidate wins this county is going to win Colorado.

Washoe County, NV
The dynamic of Nevada politics is Democratic Clark County against Republican outstate areas, with Reno in the middle. For Romney to win Nevada, he has to win Washoe County. In 2004 and 2008, it matched the state percentages for Bush and Obama. A win here doesn’t guarantee Romney a victory in Nevada, but it is a necessary component.

Racine County, WI
Racine County is slightly more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole. Bush narrowly won it in 2004, while he barely lost the state overall.  Even so, anything more than a narrow Romney victory would augur well for him in a county that is a representative blend of urban, suburban and rural areas. It’s also worth watching due to the potential gains in Southern Wisconsin that could accrue with Paul Ryan, their congressman on the ticket. The potential for adding independents and some Democrats, who have voted for Ryan for years, to the Romney column could be decisive in a close state.

Oakland County, MI
The county that Mitt Romney grew up in is worth watching for a few reasons. First, if Romney wants to pull an upset in Michigan, he must win Oakland County. Second, it is precisely the sort of northern affluent suburb Republicans have had problems with at the presidential level for the past 20 years. Gains here would be indicative of Romney strength in other affluent suburbs in key states and a significant difference between a winning Romney coalition and the previous winning coalition that George W. Bush assembled.

Washoe County Final Day Closes Strong, GOP Ahead by a Nose

In a nearly dead even final day, the GOP cast five more ballots than the Democrats in Washoe County. Total ballots cast were 14,234 by far the largest of the cycle as expected. Republicans cast 5348 while Democrats cast 5343. The Independent/Other category definitely made their presence felt casting 3543 ballots. With this being the final day it seems more instructive to look at the aggregate totals and compare them to the 2008 results.  Although Democrats carried the in-person early vote by 641 ballots, most everything else about this performance was bad news.  Of the three groups only the Democrats had a lower turnout than 2008 bolstering the argument of reduced enthusiasm for the party. At the same time their differential over Republicans was 11,337 fewer than the 2008 margin. Republicans increased their ballots cast 8485 and 4.5pp of the overall total. The Independent/Other segment increased its vote total 4270 ballots and 2.3pp of the overall total.  As was the trend throughout the early voting, the increased Independent/Other vote may well be the deciding factor in Washoe County and the state as a whole. Republicans still lead in the aggregate early voting count thanks to absentee voting and mail-in ballots although they had hoped to add to this lead by greater performances from in-person balllots.

Contrast between 2012 and 2008 in-person early voting

2012 Final Tally 2008 Final Tally
Dem – 45043 (40.4%) Dem – 47895 (47.1%)
GOP -44402 (39.8%) GOP – 35917 (35.3%)
NP – 22062 (19.8%) NP – 17792 (17.5%)

Overall we see that 2012 had little relation to 2008 in that the competition was far stiffer this time around with Republicans giving as good as they were getting. Although hopes for a Washoe win from in-person voting were dashed due to strong late performances by Democrats, the full cycle performance was stellar especially when contrasted to a woeful 2008.

2012 Early Vote Trendlines by Party

2008 Early Vote Trendlines by Party

Another Day, Another Washoe County Win for Republicans in Early Voting

For the fourth consecutive day Republicans outpaced Democrats in Washoe County in-person early voting.  Republicans cast 3613 votes for a 39.4% share while Democrats cast 3429 ballots for a 37.4%.  The expected Thursday ramp-up increased turnout 19% over the Thursday result with 9162 ballots cast. Republicans now trail in-person early voting by 646 ballots. But the net gain of 184 ballots extends Republicans overall lead with the combined absentee and mail-in early ballots.  The aggregate Washoe lead now stands at 375 more ballots cast by Republicans than Democrats, a far cry from the 12k advantage Democrats enjoyed in 2008.  Washoe’s going red people … get used to it.  If Romney is winning a majority of the Independent vote and the Clark GOP keeps its close . . .

Big contrast in the running tallies

2012 thru Day 12 2008 Through Day 12
Dem – 39700 (40.9%) Dem – 43357 (47.86%)
GOP – 39054 (40.3%)
GOP – 31711 (34.99%)
NP – 18202 (18.8%) NP – 15570 (17.18%)

We see the election over election change in Democrat turnout is down -3657 ballots while the change in GOP turnout is up +7343, a net 11,000 gain for the GOP versus 2008. The enthusiasm gap continues to grow in Washoe County and Democrats are on the run in Reno. Having erased Obama’s early vote advantage, this type of swing will go a long way to erasing Obama’s overall ~23k vote Washoe County win in 2008, half of which came from the early vote.

Three-in-a-Row in Washoe County for Team Nevada

Another strong day for the GOP up north casting 3128 ballots compared to 2841 for the Democrats.  Total ballots cast were 7679, down about 1300 day-over-day supporting the evolving story that the expected second week blow-out was not in the cards after the strong first week performance. Despite the muted second week performance thus far the final two days should will almost certainly see a nice pick-up in activity.  Most concerning is the Democrats performance since this is their strength and enthusiasm questions continue to mount.  Although in my count, today’s net gain for the GOP only shrinks the Democrat lead to 830 for in-person early voting, this net gain nearly erases the overall lead Democrats held going into today when including absentee and mail-in ballots.  An all-around great day for Team Nevada in Washoe County.

Big contrast in the running tallies

2012 thru Day 12 2008 Through Day 12
Dem – 36271 (41.3%) Dem – 38329 (48.89%)
GOP -35441 (40.3%) GOP – 26913 (34.37%)
NP – 16082 (18.3%) NP – 13161 (16.79%)

We see the election over election change in Democrat turnout is DOWN -2058 while the change in GOP turnout is UP +8528, a net 10,586 gain for the GOP versus 2008. Do you know what an enthusiasm gap looks like? Well now you do. Having erased Obama’s early vote advantage, this type of swing will go a long way to erasing Obama’s overall ~23k vote Washoe County win in 2008, half of which came from the early vote.

Another Solid Washoe Early Voting Win for Republicans

For the second straight day during the most important time of early voting, Republicans notch another victory expanding on yesterday’s win.  In Tuesday early voting Republicans cast 3700 ballots versus Democrats 3360, a 340 ballot margin. Aggregate ballots cast were 120% the 2012 weekday reflecting the expected week 2 turnout, unlike Monday.

Other than the odd spike on Sunday (the lowest turnout day of 2012), the contest has been largely evenly matched after the typical strong start by the Democrats.  Early voting has been a back and forth battle in Washoe County but during the most important time period Republicans have greatly stepped up their game. The Independent/Other turnout remains an important segment in the 2012 early voting and remains the great unknown whether they will fall to Romney or Obama. The strong reversal in Republican fortunes the last two days show has increased the growth rate of Republican turnout versus Democrat turnout to 3.2% versus the models 2% heading into this week.We are working without our models for now (I’d ask for a Hurricane Sandy exemption) but between the turnout below expectations thus far and the increased growth rate, Republicans are poised to meaningfully turn the tides on Democrats in Washoe early voting this year. The gains of the last two days continue to eat into the Democrats ballot advantage that stands as 1117 ballots.



Strong Monday Early Voting for GOP in Washoe and Clark Counties

Washoe County (thanks to Paul8148 for the data)

A Washoe County win for the GOP casting 2859 ballots versus 2705 for Democrats achieving a net 164 ballot gain. This is huge for the GOP as they needed to reverse the slide in Washoe and they did so with gusto. The overall turnout was below our expectations but that is more concerning for Democrats as questions regarding voter enthusiasm have continued to creep into their early vote results.

Clark County (thanks to vnClark for the data)

The gap in all-important Clark County narrowed dramatically on Monday with Democrats casting 14,113 ballots and Republicans casting Republicans 12,492 — by far the best comparative for Republicans in 2008 or 2008. This performance compressed the % contribution to 42.8% for Democrats and 37.9% for Republicans.  The two day move for Republicans is fantastic news for Team Nevada and bodes well during this big final week of early voting. The turnout was below our model’s expectation but the steep climb from Republicans would give a strong boost to expected growth that we will update after Tuesday’s numbers.

Charts expected later.

Washoe County Sunday Early Vote: For the GOP the Treand is Not Your Friend

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.

Clark and Washoe Counties Saturday Early Voting Holds Steady

So much news going on today it’s been tough to keep up with everything.  Lucky for you guys the Jets are the 1pm game and I switched out of using them as my knockout pool pick so I can catch up on Nevada early voting.  I’ll keep it brief since I’m tweaking the model after today’s numbers come in and the new Washoe model nailed the Democrats # for Saturday although only I know that :).

The takeaway for both counties is two-fold.

First Republicans are keeping pace with their performance relative to Democrats this year whereas in 2008 Republicans steadily gained throughout the early voting. The Republicans started out at a much higher base in early voting versus 2008 so this is by no means disastrous.  But if Republicans were going to meaningfully put Obama’s chances of winning Nevada in peril before election day we would like to have seen steady improvement throughout the first week. As we reported earlier, the numbers in Clark County are expected to move in the GOP’s direction starting Monday as the early voting booths which rotate in location move to more Republican-friendly locales so we’ll watch for that closely.

Second, the Independent vote continues to contribute a greater percentage of the overall early voting.  This may be the more surprising development among all the early voting stories.  If Mitt Romney is winning this group by the large margins showing up in recent polling, this may more than make up any deficits among the early ballots cast.  We’ll be watching Independent polling closely to see how this plays out.

Clark County Saturday October 27 early voting:

Democrats cast 14422 ballot on Saturday, almost exactly as our model expected.  Republicans cast 9655 ballots or 67% of the Democrat vote which was below our expectations. The aggregate lead for Democrats is 42,699 approximately -10,000 less than in 2008 at the same juncture.

Washoe County Saturday October 27 early voting:

Democrats cast 2991 early ballots on Saturday versus Republicans who cast 2833 ballots or only 95% of the Democrats total which was below our expectations.  Overall Democrats lead by 1198 ballots cast, approximately -7000 fewer than the 9093 lead they enjoyed at this point in 2008.

Washoe Friday (Oct 26) Early Vote, Democrats Cast 21 More Ballots

Give both sides credit for consistency, they are battling it out neck and neck in the early vote in Washoe County. For the second straight day the vote differential was essentially even with Democrats again nosing ahead by a handful of votes.  On the day Democrats cast 2218 ballots and Republicans cast 2197 ballots, 99% of the Democrats total. There was a -35% drop-off from Thursday in the aggregate vote which did not occur in 2008 so I’m wondering if there was a local event or holiday that decreased the turnout.  First snow day in Tahoe?  Free garlic fries at Pluto’s? Where’d everybody go?    The differential between Democrats and Republicans obviously remains about even but the Independent/Other category remains on the march up another 0.2pp.  With each passing day the Independent vote increases in importance especially with Romney racking up gaudy margins among this group around the country.

With even results little changes in the overall picture.  I’ll probably apply some major tweaks to the model over the weekend to more accurately reflect this year’s turnout ahead of next week’s ramp-up into the end of early voting. The aggregate differential is 1040 versus 1019 yesterday and -6900 less than the 7940 differential at the same point 4 years ago.

Washoe Early Vote Finally Posts with Democrats Casting 36 More Ballots

Interesting day in Washoe with the two parties casting almost identical numbers of ballots, Democrats 3431 versus Republicans 3396. For trend watchers this may be disappointing but a Republican turnout at 99% of the Democrat vote is better than any day in 2008. While we would hope for a straight line of continually increasing Republican gains, the reality is it will be an up and down affair (must resist Kate Upton reference) throughout the early voting. Democrats are fairly stable with their turnout while Republicans peaked on Tuesday and have steadily fallen back towards the Democrat’s level. The key will be whether this downward slope is a trend or an aberration. The aggregate ballot lead for Democrats stands at 1019, down from 7161 at the same point in 2008. Similar to what we are seeing in Clark County, the Independent/Other category remains on a slow but steady upward march. This group could be the key in the election if Romney is seeing near the double-digit leads he is enjoying in national polls and some state polling.

The Washoe model

We waited a day to make changes to our assumptions and that was the right call. With the relatively flat day-over-day result the 2012 rate of growth between the Republican turn out and Democrats is 4.1%, higher than our initial estimate of 3.85% that we’ve been using but well off the 7.1% as of yesterday. At the same time the steady Democrat turnout confirms the overestimation of Democrat enthusiasm this cycle so we are adjusting the expected Dem turnout to 3358 from 3985 until the expected ramp-up turnout starting next week. We are modeling the ramp-up as the turnout % relative to the day 1 result but it may be wiser to estimate week two turnout as a percent of the prior week’s average turnout. We’ll think about that over the weekend after we get Friday’s results and tweak accordingly. As it stands with a new growth rate in GOP turnout of 4.1% relative to the Democrats turnout, Republicans would have a final early vote lead in ballots cast of 5793. This compares with a 11,978 ballot advantage Democrats enjoyed heading into election day in 2008.

Finally away from Washoe, I have one hell of a source regarding Clark County early voting:

Just wanted to update you on Clark’s numbers. We should start seeing movement towards [the GOP] next week. The thing the press doesn’t pick up on is that most of the early vote locations are mobile so they move from supermarket to supermarket, community center to community center for a 1,2 or 3 day period. Starting today and next week we start getting locations in our strong areas so the results should narrow.

Something to keep an eye on going forward.

Did I just bury the lede?

3 Straight Wins in Washoe County, Nevada for Republicans in Early Voting

For prior day’s post on Washoe early voting see: Washoe County Early Vote Shocker and Back to Back Washoe County Wins for Team Nevada.

In 2008 President Obama built insurmountable leads in early voting such that even if John McCain had competed heavily in Nevada, he would have had no chance to overcome the Obama early voting ground game.  2012 continues to be a very different story.  After being shut out in 2008, Republicans have now won 3 of the 5 early voting days in Washoe County. Today’s Washoe report shows Republicans casting 3541 ballots versus Democrats 3310 ballots.  This continues the trend of Republicans eating into Democrats overall lead which now stands at 983 more ballots cast. At this juncture in 2008 Democrats had an early voting advantage of 6353 ballots cast, a -5370 ballot difference. Note that the entire remaining advantage  is from the day 1 lead of 985 ballots and since then Republicans have averaged 0.5 more ballots cast than Democrats per day. Here is the current trend of Republicans and Democrats % of the overall early vote:

A couple interesting things about this chart. The Republicans make up of the total early voters has flattened out around 42.5% but the Democrats continue to see marked declines as a % of the overall vote dropping at a rate of 2% per day since early voting began. Although Republicans captured much of this vote on Day 2, it has been the Independents/Other parties capturing much of the Democrats decline increasing its vote % by 0.8pp per day on average. This only heightens the need for Mitt Romney to really gain ground with the Independents to neutralize a decided advantage Obama enjoyed with this group in 2008.

In actual ballots cast the Democrats are slightly outpacing their 2008 turnout at this juncture totaling 16,792 versus 15,469 — an 8.6% increase or 1323 ballots. Republicans on the other hand are dramatically outpacing their 2008 performance. Ballots cast by Republicans thus far total 15,809 compared to 9116 in 2008 — a 73.4% increase or 6693 ballots.

The Washoe Model

Right now my model is overstating Democrat turnout. The average daily turnout for Democrats after Day 1 is only 66.2% of the Day 1 result and not the 86.6% expected based on 2008 results. The overall opportunity for Republicans to make gains is greater going forward based on what appears to be a definite enthusiasm drop-off in early voting by Democrats when you look at both Clark and Washoe County. The model did however practically nail the Republican % of the Democrat vote predicting 107% when in actuality it was 108%. This was based on the assumption of a 3.85% daily growth rate from 2008. The 2012 daily growth rate for Republicans as a % of the Democrat vote is 7.1%. I’m going to wait one more day before tweaking the model even with the overstated Democrat turnout because adjusting the rate of change for Republican growth can have a disproportionate impact on the model. Since today’s results were largely in-line with the model’s growth rate another day’s data would be meaningful in increasing the accuracy of new assumptions. As it stands the model expects Republicans to have a nearly 9000 early vote advantage heading into election day. In 2008 Democrats cast 11,987 more ballots in early voting than did Republicans. This would be a 21,000 ballot swing in a county President Obama won overall by 22,791 votes.

Back-to-Back Washoe County Wins for Team Nevada in Early Voting

Last night’s Washoe County win was such a big deal that I stayed up until ~3am to get that post out.  Now we have today’s #s and it’s another big win for the GOP. Republican turnout was 3954 ballots cast compared to 3782 by the Democrats. I have to say my crude little model is at least in the ballpark with these numbers. Clearly wrong but not absurdly. The big miss is obviously the combined improvement by the GOP and sub-par performance by the Democrats. The Republican estimate was 3592 (low by 10%) and the Democrats estimate was 3985 for Democrats (5% too high). But that level of conservative assumptions was inherent in a model predicated on 2008 trends where the comparative advantage for the Democrats was enormous then and dramatically changed today.  What can I say, I like conservative models (you do know Kate Upton’s uncle is a GOP Congressman, right?).

The full saying is once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend but does anyone see a trend here?

This is really eating into the Democrats lead in Washoe.  It is down to 1214 ballots cast versus 5465 in 2008, a 4251 ballot cast improvement for the GOP. The rate of change in GOP improvement has been 8.6% per day this cycle and my model only assumes a 3.85% improvement. At a 3.85% growth rate from here on out the GOP would have an advantage going into election day of ~9000 ballots cast versus the deficit of ~12000 in 2008 — enough to basically swing Washoe with no crossover votes. For fun, I punched in the 8.6% rate of change and the GOP would have a 20,000 ballot advantage by election day. I’ll wait one more day to plug in a new rate of change but Team Nevada is getting it done in 2012.  Major kudos.

Washoe County Early Voting Shocker

The vaunted Obama Ground Game has been slain … at least for one day in Washoe County, Nevada.  Republicans outpaced Democrats in ballots cast on day 3 of early voting in the 2nd most important county in Nevada with Clark County clearly the top dog. Washoe made up 19% of the Nevada vote in 2008 and was  carried by President Obama 55 to 43 — a total of 22, 791 votes.  If Mitt Romney is going to win Nevada he must flip Washoe back into the GOP column which was won by George Bush in 2004, 51 to 47. If he can not do this, there is little reason to believe he will achieve success in the far more difficult terrain that is Clark County. Early voting was the secret weapon of the Obama 2008 campaign and in Washoe alone 11,987 more ballots were cast by Democrats than Republicans during this time which would have accounted for 52.6% of his final vote margin.

We will stipulate up front, when it comes to ballots being cast versus actual votes, there is a leap of faith involved. Neither candidate will secure 100% of their base  but for analysis purposes we will hold this as a constant. We do know the candidates get over 90% of their party’s vote so for simplicity we may refer to a ballot cast as a vote despite the very real crossover vote as well as the Independent vote, both of whom broke decidedly for Obama in 2008.

That said, the early vote in Nevada has been a tale of two elections.  The GOP in 2008 was nowhere to be found in Nevada and it showed in early voting as well as the election day ballot box. Not only did President Obama achieves an early vote advantage in Washoe County, on election day also outpaced John McCain in ballots cast that day. 2012 is a completely new ballgame and Washoe County is changing the narrative. In just the first three days of early voting, Washoe shaved 3052 ballots off the Democrats advantage versus 2008.  That’s over 25% of Obama’s entire advantage in the county during the last election. And worse for Obama, the trend from 2008 was a slow Republican start that steadily gains steam while the Democrats start strong and fade into the close.

This chart shows the 2008 % makeup of the two parties ballots cast versus the total over the 14 days of early voting:

As you see, there is an aggressive convergence between the two parties heading into the final day of early voting.  Democrats start strong but fade while Republicans gain steam. And this was in a campaign where an underfunded  John McCain had largely ceded the state in these final weeks.

This time the GOP is under no such disadvantages and it already showing in only the first days of early voting.   For the Monday October 22 early voting, Republicans cast more ballots than Democrats in Washoe County — an unheard of proposition considering the alleged indomitable strength of the Obama ground game as well as the disarray of the Nevada state  GOP party.  It looks like the shadow party, Team Nevada, has a few tricks up their sleeves…Here is how the same chart looks after 3 days in 2012:

Republicans begin the early voting season at a higher point than 2008 eating directly into the Democrat advantage as Independents were mostly constant election-over-election.  Opening with a 10.3 percentage point (pp) gap, the Republicans quickly closed the deficit taking the lead on Day 3 of early voting neutralizing Obama’s great advantage that went a long way towards him carrying Nevada in 2008. This is a watershed moment for Nevada Republicans who have seen their fair share of let’s say “unique” candidates as well as office holders recently.  If the GOP can keep anywhere near this pace of trend for the early voting season, President Obama may be in far deeper trouble in Nevada that his over-generous internal models predict.

The Washoe Model — predictive value low (at this point), illustrative value high

We 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 early voting numbers. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we simply mimicked the Clark model for Washoe based on the first day’s data. Using such limited data makes the models far less reliable for predictive purposes but still valuable to illustrate comparisons between the two elections.  The forecasting value is inherently low based on only one election’s data (2008) and one day’s voting (2012).  It is like extrapolating a heavily Democrat precinct’s data nation-wide in a Presidential election.  It tends to lead to wrong conclusions, right President Kerry?  But the model is very helpful for tracking purposes because deficits can signal signs of trouble while election-over-election advantages can indicate one party is making waves that could upset an election’s results. Over the next day or two we will tweak both models to make them more predictive than simply illustrative.

Washoe County had some similarities to Clark County in that after a slow start, Republicans gained steadily on Democrats throughout the early voting — only Washoe started from a higher base:

From this we see the average rate of change over the 14 days of early voting is a 3.85% average daily increase in the Republicans % of the Democrat vote almost reaching parity by election day. We use this as a basis for our growth assumption of Republican turnout relative to Democrats in our 2012 model. Although I use conservative estimates in my models to help offset the low predictive value we see quickly the Republican outperformance causes problems for the model on only day 3.

Democrat turnout estimate

Looking at the 2008 actual early vote #s, Democrat turnout after Day 1 in Washoe County averaged 86% of the day 1 result:

Plugging the 3.85% Republican growth assumption and the Democrat turnout at 86% of its first day total, our model is as follows:

If you look at the left-bottom row you will see that Day 2 of the model came close to forecasting the Republican % of the Dem vote.  The model expected the GOP to improve to 82% of the vote and the actual results were 81% of the Democrat vote.This success wouldn’t last long.

From day 1 to day 2  we see a sharp drop-off in turnout. This was unsurprising and consistent with 2008 since it falls on a Sunday.  The major difference was Day 3 when 2 important things happened — one predictable, the other not so much.  The GOP kicked it into overdrive and increased their turnout on Monday over 1000 votes.  This was consistent with 2008 when the GOP increased its Day 3 turnout nearly 1200 votes.  What didn’t happen was a bounce-back by the Democrats .  After a big splash on Day 1 and the expected Day 2 drop-off, Democrats only improved their turnout only 572 ballots day-over-day, dramatically lower than  2008 when their Day 3 turnout increased nearly 2200 ballots. This lead to Republicans outperforming the Democrats in early voting for the first time in either election — a preposterous proposition were you to predict turnout based solely on reputation.

Although aggregate numbers are up election-over-election, the poor day 3 turnout puts Democrats far below their 2008 pace while Republicans outstrip their 2008 pace by leaps and bounds which is where the model is of some help.  For Democrats to proportionally meet their 2008 turnout, they need to average 3985 ballots cast every day until election day.  Making matters worse for the Democrats, their turnout #s they were surprisingly steady with the noted exceptions of Sundays.  Over the 7 subsequent regular days following the Sunday drop-off Democrat turnout only fluctuated between 3100 and 3600 each day before ramping up in the finals days of the early vote. So far they have woefully failed to meet that level in the two days  since the early voting kickoff. If the Democrats are already performing below that band, they could be in for some trouble in the coming days if these new turnout results form new upper or lower bounds for them.

Republicans, on the other hand have nearly doubled their 2008 turnout over these three first days of early voting and clearly have momentum and history on their side. They have already cut 3052 ballots into the Democrats lead and if past in prologue, we can expect even more surprises in early voting returns from the Silver State.  As I said up front, the above model is more illustrative than predictive at this juncture.  As you can see it predicts net gains for Republicans of only 2727 ballots cast  but that was based on the GOP not catching up to the Democrats for another 4 days.  Unfortunately for my crude model, but good for the GOP, in 2012 the Nevada Republicans started strong and shocked most every election watcher surpassing President Obama’s vaunted ground game on only the third day. If this is a sign of things to come, Nevada’s 6 electoral votes may just end up in Team Romney’s column.

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.

Nevada Early Voting is Starting and Day One Results Are Out

Early voting is a new phenomenon that is has great implications on the final election outcome.  Despite this, I don’t much enjoy blogging it.  The numbers get updated sporadically, there is an inherent uncertainty in what the requests or submissions actually mean and the sample sizes are really small.  This makes drawing conclusions not much better than just plain old guess work until a critical mass of votes have accumulated.  And by that time someone else has already done a better job analyzing the data than I could so I just leave it to them. One of the only reasons this blog has any popularity is I am doing the work major media outlets refuse to do which allows them to misrepresent the polls however they like (always against Republicans obvs).  That said, I know this is rightfully a big issue to a lot of people so I’ll provide some preliminary info and direct you to where you can check the numbers in the coming days for yourselves as you see fit.

Thus far 3 Nevada Counties have reported results: Carson County, Douglas County and Washoe County. Of this list we only care about Washoe County (Reno) because that is one of the Battleground Counties, it comprised nearly 19% of the 2008 Nevada electorate and Romney should flip it back after Obama carried it in 2008.  This is why yesterday’s endorsement of Romney by the Reno Gazette-Journal was so important. Endorsements may not persuade voters, but they are a clear indication of informed voter sentiment. And when they switch endorsements against an incumbent that is noteworthy.

This is much the same as all-important Clark County (Las Vegas) which accounted for over 67% of the total Nevada vote in 2008.  Obama will carry Clark, but it is the margin that will be key. Clark releases their first day data at 11pm Mountain time (1am EDT).

So we see the combination of Clark and Washoe account for 86% of the entire Nevada vote making the rest of the counties rounding error to what happens in those two population centers.  Every other county is also heavily Republican too so seeing advantages there don’t mean as much either.

Day 1 results are as follows:

Responses are by party registration, not their actual vote

2012 Washoe County: 9,638 votes

  • Dem 47.8% — 4607 votes
  • Rep 37.5% — 3614 votes
  • None/Oth 14.7% — 1417 votes

Thanks to commenter M. Remmerde we have the 2008 day 1 comparison for Washoe:

2008 Washoe County: 6,554 votes

  • Dems 59.64% –3909 votes
    Rep 25.45% — 1668 votes
    Other 14.91% — 977 votes

The Democrat advantage of 34 points on the first day four years ago is now on 10 points .  But just as interesting is the enthusiasm measure. The total early vote is up 3,084 but the Democrat vote increase is only 698 and the “Other” is up only 440.  Republicans on the other hand are up 1,946, 3x as much as the Democrats.  That type of enthusiasm and early vote ground game is quite similar to what we are seeing in Ohio.  It’s only day one but it’s nice to come out of the gates strong.  Heavily Democrat Clark County is the real test but expect incredible Democrat #s there just like Iowa.  They key for Republicans will be to fight their way back from now until election day to “mind the gap.”

Clark County: 33,204 votes, this is an increase from 25,100 in 2008

  • Dem 55.4% — 18,388 votes
  • Rep 28.9% — 9588 votes
  • None/Oth 15.7% — 5228 votes

Nevada expert Jon Ralston says the percentage split is similar to 2008.  No exact 2008 #s given.  UPDATE:  Getting word that Mr. Ralston may have shaded his color on the 2008 comparison. The current spread of ~26% is a big spread but I’m hearing it’s much smaller than the 2008 margin, much like Washoe County.  I still don’t have verifiable numbers so I’ll leave it at that for now (time for bed). If it is true, though, I will be very disappointed in Ralston.  As I say every time he is a big ol’ Lefty, but he always played it straight when it came to running the #s and analyzing data.  It doesn’t appear he did so in this instance.  As a matter of fact, he just tweeted out the 2008 Rep # was 5,733 which means this year they had a 67% jump in early voting.  That is huge. The gross increase in votes is 8,104. 3855 comes from the GOP and if we hold Other steady at 15.7% as a control their increase is 1287.  That leaves only 2962 of the increase for Democrats.  So the GOP picked up approximately 900 votes versus 2008 on Day 1 of early voting in a state with possible the least effective local party in the nation.

Now my #s are estimates based on holding “other” steady from 2008, but in that instance, we get the following for 2008 Day 1 #s:

  • Dem 61.4% — 15,426 votes
  • Rep 22.8% — 5733 votes
  • None/Oth 15.7% — 3950 votes

A 38 point spread in 2008 is now a 26 point gap in 2012.  That is a big deal if these #s prove close to correct.  Romney won’t win Clark but he needs to “mind the gap” which at least on Day 1 is exactly what he is doing. Great news for the GOP and Ralston is doing the dance of joy on behalf of the Democrats? I don’t know what is going on with him these day but he’s been unusually petty and partisan the last couple of weeks. It’s very unbecoming.  As someone who respects his work, I’m disappointed he put out clearly wrong information when he had every reason to know it wasn’t so.  Fool me once, shame on you …

Carson County: 1,109 votes

  • Dem 35.3%
  • Rep 49.1%
  • None/Oth 15.5%

Douglas County: 3,037 votes

  • Dem 27.7%
  • Rep 57.2%
  • None/Oth 15.1%

Obama +2 in Nevada — Suffolk University/KSNV

The latest from Suffolk University, who controversially announced they will stop polling North Carolina, Florida and Virginia because they believe those states are locked in for Romney, has the race neck-and-neck in Nevada.  President Obama leads by +2, 47 to 45 with 6% Undecided

President Barack Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 2 points in Nevada (47 percent to 45 percent, with 6 percent undecided), according to a Suffolk University/KSNV poll of likely voters in that swing state.  The poll is well within the survey’s 4.4 percent margin of error.   “After a strong debate performance, Mitt Romney is within striking distance of President Obama in Nevada,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.  “However, Obama’s big lead in Clark County – the state’s largest – has enabled his campaign to run up the score.  In Washoe County, the results closely align with the statewide numbers.”  Obama led 50-42 in Clark County and 47-43 in Washoe County.  However, in the remaining Nevada counties, Romney led 63 percent to 30 percent.  The Suffolk University/KSNV-Nevada poll includes all four presidential candidates who qualified for the Nevada ballot.  Independent Virgil Goode and Libertarian Gary Johnson polled 1 percent each.

Interestingly they gave you the two big County votes for Clark County and Washoe County.  We’ll go to the Nevada expert Jon Ralston for the takeaways:

The internals here show Obama only leading in Clark County by 8 points, which seems unlikley — he needs to win by double digits. He is still ahead because the survey shows he is ahead in Washoe by 4. If he wins Washoe by 4, he will almost certainly win the state.

This is a registered voter poll with party ID D +8 (Dem 41, Rep 33, Ind 23).  Not enough Independents in the survey.  In 2008 it was D +8 (Dem 38 Rep 30, Ind 32) and in 2004 it was R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26).  I’m going to stop blogging registered voter polls.  It’s a waste for any organization to do those at this juncture.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 47
Mitt Romney 45
Gary Johnson 1
Virgil Goode 1
Undecided 6

Quick addendum on Suffolk University polls:


Battleground Counties: Washoe County, Nevada

The Battleground Counties series makes a return as we head out west with Paul Ryan into Nevada and Washoe County. Although most of the population in Nevada rests in and around Las Vegas, once you head to heavily Republican Northern Nevada, Washoe County becomes the destination for politicians of all parties:

Washoe is the battleground county in the battleground state of Nevada. Rural Nevada is safe Republican terrain. Clark County is where 70 percent of the state population lives and where more Democrats thrive. So it’s Washoe County where the political wrestling is happening, a swing county in a swing state. “To boil it down, Washoe is probably the biggest target area of the state,” said Ryan Erwin, an adviser to the Romney campaign in Nevada.

Fast facts:

  • It is Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s home Northern Nevada turf
  • GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama were both in Reno [recently], addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention and sparring over national security
  • The Romney campaign opened a Reno “victory office” in late July
  • So far, more than $4 million worth of political TV ads have aired in the Reno market

The lay of the land

In 2008, Obama won Washoe on his way to his Nevada victory and the presidency, gaining 55 percent of the vote versus 46 percent for GOP presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. In 2012, Romney must beat Obama in Washoe to have a shot at winning Nevada and the White House. That is what former President George W. Bush did in his two successful Nevada campaigns, winning Washoe with a little more 50 percent of the vote in 2004 and just under 50 percent in 2000. James Smack, vice chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, said it comes down to this: For Republicans, Washoe is a must-win county while Democrats can afford to lose it and still win Nevada. “If a Republican is going to win the state, he has to win the 16 counties that are not named Clark,” said Smack, who also is the incoming Republican National Committeeman for Nevada.

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Democrat Perspective: Is Nevada Still a True Toss-up?

This is beginning to remind me of the “inevitable” re-election meme started by Obama surrogates in the media 6-9 months ago as if Obama was a shoe-in this November so why even discuss Republicans as credible challengers.  That all changed this Spring when the GOP settled on a nominee, Obama showed himself to be an economically incompetent paper tiger and every poll showed the race essentially tied.  Now the economy is only getting worse, the Obama gaffe machine is in overdrive, his campaign finances are a shambles and the $100 million negative ad campaign against Romney had no discernible effect.

Yet, another story hits the news about a true Battleground state like Nevada wondering why we even talk about it being competitive. Obama’s the incumbent, he won the state by 12.5 points in 2008 and the most recent polls show it averaging about a 5-point lead when the writer even admits Romney hasn’t really even begun to campaign in a state with figurative political fault-times across every spectrum of the economy.  Still the sycophantic media adds it all up and sees Romney have having so little chance that neither campaign will spend time or money in the state between now and November. Truly astonishing. Here is Obama re-election writer from Time magazine asking “Is Nevada still a true toss-up?”

Nevada is rightfully known as a swing state–the polling there is closer than in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania or Indiana, for example, and it’s one of a handful of states now bearing the load of early advertising dollars in the presidential race. Obama has spent $7.2 million in the state since May. And Washoe isn’t just any swing county either–it’s one of 272 nationwide that voted twice for George W. Bush before flipping to Obama in 2008. But there are a few signs that Nevada now lies at the outer margin of toss-up states, leaning in Obama’s direction.

The oft-debunked “coalition of the ascendent” cliche

Obama won Nevada by 12 and a half percentage points in 2008, a larger margin of victory than in Minnesota, home of Paul Wellstone and Walter Mondale. It was high-water year for Democrats to be sure, but the margin suggested a larger shift. In 1996, Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole with ease, running up 10-point victories in states like Pennsylvania, just as Obama did against John McCain. But Clinton only won Nevada by 1 point. What changed? According to the Census Bureau, Nevada’s population grew 35% between 2000 and 2010; Latinos, who now comprise more than a quarter of the state’s population and break Democratic, accounted for nearly half that growth.

Mormon vote in Nevada over-rated

Romney is often said to have his own demographic advantage in Nevada because of its sizable Mormon population. But Mormons only comprise about 6.5% of the population and are already a high-turnout, conservative-leaning bloc. In 2008, people from religions other than Protestantism and Catholicism accounted for 7% in Nevada’s exit polls, and Mormons said they preferred McCain to Obama by more than 3-1 in pre-election polling. Romney can probably do even better, but that’s unlikely to swing Nevada for him on its own.

Housing collapse won’t hurt Obama either
Neither is the issue of housing, which has hit Nevada hard: Up until this year, the state spent 62 consecutive months with the most foreclosures in the nation. Obama’s record on this issue is pretty miserable, and critics have panned his Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program. But Romney is not in a strong position to offer more–he told the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2011 that the foreclosure process needs to “run its course and hit the bottom.” Let the market work. He may have gotten his wish: the U.S. housing market is beginning to look up, and national trend lines have historically had a much larger effect on presidential races than local factors.
Polls say 5-point lead before anyone spends a lot of resources so the state is in the bag for Obama
Nonetheless, Nevada isn’t quite on the knife’s edge. Among the polling averages of the 11 states considered toss-ups under the most generous definition in 2012–Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Missouri–Nevada has the second largest gap, at +5.2 percentage points for Obama. That’s reflected in campaign resource allocation as well. Despite consistent spending in the Silver State, the President’s campaign has directed more to states like Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia. American Crossroads, the Republican third-party group spending on Romney’s behalf while he awaits his party’s nomination, has spent more in almost every swing state than in Nevada.

The Nevada Battleground and Democrat Overconfidence

Reading so many articles every day, I am fascinated how often Democrats or mainstream media talk about Nevada as if it is a lock for Obama barring some huge upset.  No credible polling supports that thesis (PPP polls always over-represent Democrats) and plenty of polls reveal Romney is even leading.  But no matter the evidence, media still write headlines like “Nevada isn’t a sure bet for Obama?”  “Sure bet?” Is there a credible person out there arguing it IS a sure bet?  Regardless, the LA Times wrote that headline in an in-depth look at the Silver State:

For decades, casinos were the golden key to prosperity, luring in tourists, cranking out jobs around the clock and flooding the state treasury with a perpetual stream of cash. Those days are over…The local economy is in shambles, done in by the double whammy of the national recession and the rise of Indian casinos in California. Unemployment is rampant. That presents a serious challenge to President Obama as he tries to repeat his 2008 victory in Nevada, a key swing state then and now.

Battleground County

Washoe County, which includes Reno and neighboring Sparks, is the swing region of Nevada, and as such will play an outsized role in the presidential campaign between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. To the south, Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County is a Democratic and labor union stronghold. The rural counties that make up most of the rest of the state are overwhelmingly Republican. That leaves Washoe, where Republicans have a slight registration edge and once had a near lock on elections. That is no longer the case, as Obama proved in 2008 by winning the county with 55% of the vote, matching his percentage statewide. Washoe County “kind of holds the balance of power now,” said Dave Damore, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Basically, if a Republican loses Washoe County, they lose the state.” That isn’t as true of a Democrat, as Bill Clinton demonstrated when he lost Washoe twice while winning the state by thumping opponents in the southern part. But a Republican blowout in Washoe would spell doom for any Democrat in a statewide race.

There have been no independent polls to show how the region is trending, but it seems fair to say that the economy has created a tough environment for any incumbent. By multiple measures, Nevada has been the hardest-hit state in the nation, with an unemployment rate that peaked at 13.7% in 2010 and remained the nation’s highest at 11.6% in May. Nevada’s home foreclosure rate fell to No. 2 in the nation (behind Arizona) in March after 62 months in the top spot.

Permanent change in Reno

The Las Vegas area suffered the most, but Reno was not far behind. And economists and local officials say much of the damage to Reno-area tourism is probably permanent. Unlike Las Vegas, with its international reputation, Reno has always been more of a regional attraction, drawing tourists from Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. With the advent of large, full-service Indian casinos in Northern California, many of those tourists have no reason to visit anymore. Bill Eadington, an economics professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, said his studies showed that gambling revenues from tourists in Reno declined by two-thirds between 1990 and 2010.

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