With just 8 days left until the polls close for the 2008 presidential election, the Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that nearly 190,000 voters had turned out through Saturday in early voting in Nevada’s largest county (Clark). Of the 186,849 voters to show up at the polls, 103,719 were Democrats and 52,850 were Republicans. Of mail ballots received so far, there have been about 14,000 Republicans ballots vs. 12,500 Democrat ballots. Combining both mail ballots and early voting, Dems represented 54 percent of all Clark County voters while Republicans represented 31 percent.
What remains to be seen is how the rest of Nevada’s counties - many of which lean Republican – turn out. Washoe County, which contains Reno-Sparks, is particularly of interest. According to the Washoe County website, 51,209 voters have turned out to the polls as of yesterday. 26,214 of those were Democrats, compared to 16,838 Republicans. The final count will likely be a lot closer, though. A late September Reno Gazette Journal piece said that total Washoe County registration stood at 87,971 registered Republicans and 84,705 registered Democrats, with a backlog of about 5,000 registration applications still awaiting processing at that point. If we assume that most of that backlog were Democrats, Washoe may be ”a wash” because the numbers will be nearly even.
For the break down of voter rolls of Nevada’s 15 remaining counties, see the Sec. of State’s website. The sum up is this: when the numbers from Clark and Washoe counties are set aside, the rest of Nevada leans Republican. September stats showed Republican registrations at 75,402 vs. Democrat registrations at 49,687 in these counties. The GOP to Dem ratio used to be a lot bigger in northern Nevada, but the large influx of liberal leaning California residents has chipped away at it over the last decade.
According to this RJ piece last week, Nevada Democrats increased their total voter registration edge over Republicans to 111,559 this year – huge in comparison to the edge of about 4,100 voters a year ago. The RJ says the total of all registered voters in Nevada stands at nearly 1.5 million, including 625,333 Democrats and 513,774 Republicans. For Democrats, that’s 43 percent of the voters; and for Republicans it’s about 36 percent.
Note: The numbers of active voters on the Sec. of State’s webpage are a lot lower than the RJ is reporting so I called Matt Griffin, our state Elections Deputy, to verify. I’m waiting on a call back and will report.* The SOS website says that as of September 2008 there are 498,143 registered Democrats; 417,477 registered Republicans; 168,606 Non-partisans; 44,481 Independents; 6,388 Libertarians; 3,699 Others; 3,282 Greens; and 200 Natural Laws (what the heck is a “Natural Law” voter?)
Assuming these numbers are correct, those identifying with parties other than the Big Two total 226,656 with the Independent/Non-partisan voters totaling 213,087. That being the case, it looks like it’s the Independent/Non-partisan votes that will make the difference in Nevada.
I know a lot of in-state folks have called Nevada for Obama already. This little blogger ain’t so sure. Nevada’s independent voters tend to lean conservative and residents of all political stripes favor low taxes, small government and generally being left alone.
The more Obama talks about government programs, the less likely he is to please the Silver State’s electorate. Las Vegas also has hundreds of small businesses whose owners (and nervous employees) may well have been swayed by McCain’s Joe-the-Plumber-esque pitch this past week. And let’s not forget: we are very much a war-hawk/pro-military state, with Nellis AFB just a few miles east of Vegas.
Election Fact: Since 1912, Nevada has voted for the winner of every presidential election, except 1976, when the state chose Republican Gerald Ford rather than Democrat Jimmy Carter.
*Elections Deputy Matt Griffin called me back re: the discrepancy on voter registration rolls. He said the RJ is likely basing their numbers on registered but-not-yet-validated voters, whereas the Sec. of State’s website is citing verified, eligible voters.