Las Vegas Sun

December 17, 2018

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Nevada primary voting up slightly from the 2014 midterm

Voters Head to Polls in Primary Election

Steve Marcus

Voters sign in with kiosk specialists during primary election voting at the Green Valley Presbyterian Church in Henderson Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Voter registration and turnout were a major focus of the Democratic and Republican parties heading into Tuesday’s primary elections, with early numbers indicating about 65,000 more ballots were cast than in the 2014 primaries.

This primary, Democrats cast 3,200 more ballots in the gubernatorial race than Republicans, according to numbers on the secretary of state’s Silver State Election Night Results website. There are 553,543 registered Democrats in Nevada; 490,642 for the GOP.

“Democrats are committed to increasing our voter registration advantage because we know we can win elections when we register more Democrats,” Helen Kalla, spokeswoman for the Nevada State Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Democrats this primary nearly doubled their “dismal” 2014 turnout, said Kate Frauenfelder, Nevada state media manager for NextGen America, a group that stems from an organization started by major Democratic donor Tom Steyer. NextGen America has been focused on encouraging young adults to vote.

“Let’s remember that young people are the largest and most progressive voting bloc in Nevada — and they’ll bring that fight to the ballot box in November,” Frauenfelder said in a statement.

The 2014 general election was considered a red wave for Republicans, when they cast roughly 42,000 more votes than Democrats in Nevada. Statistically, there is a strong possibility that Republicans lose seats in 2018. The president’s party has typically lost seats when the commander in chief has a low approval rating. Trump’s approval rating has generally hovered around 40 percent, according to Gallup, and has never been as high as when he took office in January 2017.

Nevada Republican Party Executive Director Greg Bailor said in a statement that he was very pleased with GOP turnout in the primary. Bailor wrote Monday in an email appealing for donations for the party’s get-out-the-vote effort that the primary election would be a “strong indicator of where we stand in November.”

He said Wednesday that Republicans cast almost as many raw votes as Democrats. Bailor said 29 percent of active registered Republicans cast ballots for governor compared to 26 percent of Democrats, according to numbers on the secretary of state’s Silver State Election Night Results website.

“This doesn’t look like a blue wave to me,” he said.

Several Republican leaders have said the GOP has had significant turnout considering the party’s lack of highly contentious races, like the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Democrats have about 63,000 more active registered voters in the state than Republicans.

Michael Roberson, the state Senate Republican leader and lieutenant governor candidate, said talk of a “blue wave” in 2018 has persisted for months.

“In 2014, which wasn’t too long ago, we had a red wave,” Roberson said Monday during a campaign event for Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor. Republicans cast roughly 42,000 more votes than Democrats in Nevada four years ago.

“I think we can do it again. It’s all up to us,” Roberson said. “All we have to do is turn out. Get our friends, our neighbors, our cousins, our brothers and sisters, find people you know that aren’t registered, get them to register to vote and we will prevail in November.”

Attorney general candidate Wes Duncan also urged attendees at Laxalt’s event to encourage others who may not vote to turn out.

“We’re going to show there’s not going to be a blue wave,” he said.

Final voter turnout numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office are expected in the coming days, and the Board of County Commissioners has six days after the election to canvass the results. Nevadans have until Oct. 18 to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. Early voting starts Oct. 20.

“As we look toward November, Democrats are prepared to organize across the state to register and turn out voters and win up and down the ballot,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II said in a statement.