Las Vegas Sun

June 22, 2018

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Democrats head to primary night with edge in early voting

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M. Spencer Green / AP

Friday was the final day of early voting ahead of Nevada’s primary elections on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Updated Sunday, June 10, 2018 | 9:12 a.m.

Republicans are lagging behind Democrats in voter turnout heading into the primary election, with early voting numbers reflecting a national upswing for Democrats.

The state's Democrats tend to have lower turnout during midterm elections, but, as of noon Friday, had turned in roughly 6,000 more ballots in early voting this year than Republicans. In 2016, Democrats cast 55,000 ballots early to Republicans’ nearly 56,000.

Helen Kalla, spokeswoman for the Nevada Democrats, said the party’s strong early voting numbers show enthusiasm from its members. She said Nevada is trending blue, having chosen a Democrat in the last three presidential elections, and mirrors a national pattern of strong turnout for the party this cycle.

“Democrats are more fired up than ever to make their voices heard in the midterm,” Kalla said.

Voters in Nevada have generally been voting early in increasing numbers. Statewide, Democrats top Republicans in active voter registrations, though that gap has lessened slightly. Democrats had almost 76,000 more active voters registered in Nevada than Republicans did in January, down to nearly 63,000 as of May 24.

Republicans are edging out Democrats when it comes to percentage of registered voters in the party who have cast ballots early, said Keelie Broom, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. The RNC doesn’t take sides in the primary but has been focused on voter registration, turnout and data-building, Broom said.

Clark County Republicans had Democrats beat in 2016 in terms of percentage of its voters who turned out for the general election. Democrats had a victory margin in the county of more than 95,000 votes.

The GOP candidates will be in a better position heading into the general election, Broom said, with hotly contested Democratic primaries like the one between Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani taking up a lot of campaign cash.

“They’ll be coming out wounded and cash-strapped,” Broom said of the candidate who wins the Democratic nod for the gubernatorial general election.