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November 18, 2019

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Early voting will tell the tale, if past elections are a guide

When those Clark County early voting and mail ballots pop up Tuesday night -- between 7 and 8, we hope -- that will essentially cement the results for Southern Nevada in the U.S. Senate race, if the last two cycles are a guide. That means when we see those numbers, we can reasonably extrapolate in major races what the margin is in the county that will make up about 70 percent of the state vote.

In 2006, the last midterm, Election Day made little difference in the U.S. Senate and governor's contests. As you can see from the numbers below, the results in both those races changed very little. In 2008, after a huge early voting turnout by the Democrats, the Republicans gained a bit of ground on Election Day, as you can see. In 2006, the Republicans had a slight edge in early voting (2.1 percent) and performed slightly better on Election Day than the Democrats -- but John Ensign's margin over Jack Carter changed little (nor did Jim Gibbons' deficit to Dina Titus). In 2008, in both the presidential and CD3 races, Election Day had a slight impact (about 4 percentage points) in the presidential and congressional races that were clearly decided in early voting. But 2008 is not the right analogy, unless Democrats surge on Election Day to make up for the GOP turnout edge in early voting -- it would be a reverse of 2008.

In the last two general elections in Southern Nevada, a nearly identical percentage of voters (26 percent) cast ballots on Election Day. With turnout higher two years ago, that meant two-thirds cast ballots before Election Day; four years ago, it was just over half. The interesting questions is whether this year is different because an unusually high percentage of voters have voted early -- or so it seems. Will the Republicans still enjoy an edge on Election Day -- two years ago that enabled Rep. Jon Porter to cut Dina Titus' margin in half, so it could affect the CD3 race? Or will the Democratic surge that took place at the end of early voting carry over to Election Day?

CLARK COUNTY

2006 (EV/mail—30%/Election Day—26%) 54% voted early

Race Early margin (D-R) Final margin (D-R)

U.S. Senate 44.8-52.3 44.2-52.5

CD3 46.6-48.7 46.6-48.5

Gov 49.4-43.0 49.3-42.8

2008 (EV/mail—54%/Election Day—26%) 67% voted early

Race Early margin (D-R) Final margin (D-R)

POTUS 60.8-37.4 58.5-39.5

CD3 49.9-40.2 47.4-42.3

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