The Campaign Spot

Obama Leads Among Nevada’s Early Voters — But Why Only By 6 When So Many Democrats Voted Early?

Nevada political consultant Steve Nathan has e-mailed with his latest polling results of those who have voted early in Nevada.

Their final results of calling everyone who voted early in the state put Obama ahead, 51.63 percent to 45.51 percent, with 2.87 percent going to other candidates.

Nathan predicts, “Rural areas of Nevada will be heavily favoring McCain, but with 46 percent of the statewide vote already in we doubt he will be able to gain enough support to overcome Obama’s lead in this race. Obama will win Nevada by a narrow margin.”

I’ve asked Nathan for the partisan breakdown and total samples size – last we heard, it was more than 12,000. I hestiate before contradicting the guy on the ground, but I think that McCain still has an excellent shot if this sample reflects the overall makeup of the voters that state figures indicate:

“The ballots from early and absentee voters in Clark County show 51-percent of more than 431-thousand votes were cast by Democrats and 32-percent were from Republicans. According to the secretary of state’s office, more than 600-thousand votes had been cast statewide by Friday. Numbers from Washoe County show 38-percent of the votes came from Republicans, while 45-percent were cast by Democrats.”

Clark County includes Las Vegas and Washoe County includes Reno; together they make up 88 percent of the state’s population. If every other early voter in the state was Republican, the Democrats would still have an early voter advantage of about 2 percent in the state overall. If the early voters in the other counties split roughly along the lines of party registration, then the Democratic advantage in the statewide early voting electorate is 48.5 percent to 35.4 percent.

If Nathan’s numbers are right, Obama leads by 6.12 percent in a voter pool that is about 13.1 percent more Democrats than Republicans. That would make me nervous if I were an Obama supporter, as it indicates more than a few pro-McCain Democrats casting ballots out there. If the Nevada Republicans show up and narrow that partisan breakdown to anything resembling the statewide party registration numbers – a 7 percent Democrat margin – McCain should be able to eke out a narrow victory.

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