What should Nevada voters make of the discrepancy between unprecedented Republican voter turnout in early voting and poll numbers indicating a lead for many Democrats, one showing Democratic attorney general candidate Ross Miller with an 11-point lead?
Approach with caution, David Damore, associate professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, says.
“Any public poll done in Nevada should be viewed with skepticism,” Damore told me.
The sample size is based on rough estimates of what turnout will look like. But, as we are seeing already, turnout so far is has been neither consistent with previous midterm elections, nor something anyone predicted.
“The degree to which these models diverge from reality,” Damore continued, rather professorially, “creates systematic error that undermines the validity of the results.”
“Certainly, there is not much good news for the Democrats in the early voting numbers,” Damore said, “which, in my view, is a function of Democratic malaise brought upon by no top-of-the-ticket candidate and (Sen. Harry) Reid’s attention being devoted elsewhere.”
Democrats are clinging to the results of a Global Strategy Group poll – commissioned by an unnamed Nevada gaming company – showing on October 23, Miller with an 11-point lead over Republican Adam Laxalt, the only poll giving Miller such a wide lead.
A Las Vegas Review-Journal poll taken two weeks before early voting began showed Miller up by five on Laxalt.
A week later, the Laxalt campaign released it own polling showing Miller leading by two percentage points. Last week, a Republican Attorneys General Association poll had the Laxalt deficit cut to one point.
“Even Democratic voters, many who have military members and veterans in their family, are telling me they are voting for me,” Laxalt told me in an email statement. “The early vote trends are encouraging, but we still have a lot of work to do and there are a lot of votes yet to be cast, so we won’t rest until polls close next Tuesday night.”
The Miller campaign has not returned a request for comment.