After early vote (which ended Fri night) Dems hold about a 25K vote advantage in Clark and a 9K advantage in raw turnout statewide. Independent turnout running below historic norms for an off-year election. That means that with over 60% of the votes cast, Reid is almost certainly ahead going into the final third of the election.
A few things to watch for when returns come in.
Clark County early return results are usually posted first, about 7:35-7:45 Pacific time. We will know a lot from the early vote results in Clark. If, on the one hand, Angle is losing even 1 % or 2 to NOTC or the Tea Party candidate, and if Reid is holding her margin among independents down to the single digits, his lead will be 25K to 30K votes (8 to 10%). If, on the other, she is winning independents by 20% in the early vote, or he's losing Dems, as Republicans hope, the margin will be down at about 17K (6%). If its at the high end, more than 8%; Reid will have the first piece in place for victory. IF its less than 7%, Reid will be in a tough spot.
Washoe early vote will report next, generally before 8pm local time (11pm eastern). Washoe is her home county, and an historically moderately republican one but which Obama carried. If Angle has a lead of less than 4000 in the early vote here (thats 5% of the Washoe early vote) that is good news for Reid. Less than 2500 votes (3%) and it means Angle is losing moderate republicans from her base. If Angle is sweeping republicans and winning independents heavily, she'll have a margin of between 5 and 8 K in the Washoe early vote (6 to 10%).
So its good news for Reid at this point if he's leading by more than 20K votes. If he's winning by much less than 15K, his back will be against the wall.
Early vote from the rest of the state will generally be reported sometime between 8 and 8:30pm. Angle is likely to win this big, possibly 2-1. But early voting in the rural counties will represent only about 14 % of total statewide early vote (about 42K). So she's hoping for a margin close to 20K. Reid will be doing well if he holds her down below 15K.
Or, put differenlty, the candidate ahead after all the early vote has reported is going to be feeling very confident. If either one is leading by more than 2%, thats a very strong position.
At that point, the nets will have the benefit of e-day exit polling to be able to start to build projections of the final outcome. If at any point in the evening, tv coverage is talking about how many provisional ballots were cast, thats a sign they are thinking about calling it for Angle. If, on the other hand, they are talking about reports of vote fraud, its a sign Reid is running ahead of projections and the GOP is getting desperate.
But if its still too close to call (and there's a good chance it'll be a margin of less than 1000 votes either way after early vote is tallied), the key
to Reid's chances at that point will be whether he can reverse the trend of the last three cycles and win election day. That will require winning Clark County by a big margin (more than 10K votes).
That would require a big turnout, esp in heavily democratic CD1, and a lot of late-breaking independents to decide against Angle. Clark's election day vote tends to report slowly on election night, with few precincts coming in before 9pm.
If Clark does go well for him, he's likely to surge past her into the lead between 930 and 1030 as the heavily African-American and Latino precincts of central and eastern Las Vegas report. However, the bigger the turnout in these precincts, the later they will be to report. And since Washoe reports most of its result in this same time window, its not likley to be evident whats happening from just the statewide percentages.
In a winning scenario, unless Clark's count gets bogged down (as it did in 08 by huge turnout), Reid wants to be in the lead by at least 15K, hopefully closer to 20K, sometime between 1030 and 11. (Later if the urban Clark vote is held up).
Then, the rural precincts in the outlying areas of Clark and of Washoe come in and then the rural counties report their small, but heavily republican tallies.
Under no circumstances will Angle concede; she's still never conceded her two primary losses in 06 and 08. She's more likely to sue than concede. If Reid is behind by fewer votes than the # of provisional ballots cast, which could be several thousand, he is unlikely to concede and it will take at least three days for those to be verified and counted.
Back a few months ago I posted a comment in a thread on this race saying that the horserace polls were misleading for several reasons. I am not writing to say "I told you so" but rather to say that those underlying structural factors are still more important than the poll #s. Those factors include
1. Reid's political organization which is not merely a big pile of money. Nor is it merely a lot of precinct captains banging on doors, though I'm sure we'll see that in the fall.
Its been building on the existing Dem party structure by developing its own outreach to issue groups, professional organizations, civic groups, and so on and then providing favorable communication to reach folks in these groups on issues of concern to them.
This is not rocket science but the Reid campaign is doing more of it, earlier and more thoroughly, than anything thats been done in this state since at least the 07 presidential primary and really much better than that.
One bit of evidence as to how well this worked; when certain bloggers on other sites were writing about how there would be progressive challengers in the primary, the leading progressive groups in the state were organizing Progressives for Reid. So when Reid does things progressives like, such as lead the health bill through the Senate, that message gets out quickly and from reliable voices to the people who are likely to be mobilized by it.
This fall there's not going to be a civic, professional, issue-oriented or other group in the state that isn't going to have a Reid-sympathetic part of its membership working in an organized way to educate the rest of its membership about his work on issues of importance to that group.
This is really going to matter in this state more than others because of the massive foreclosure/ distressed homeowner/ abandoned homes problem which is going to make all legacy voter lists, including the Democratic VAN, much "dirtier" than would ordinarily be the case at this point in a cycle.
2. The Republicans are moving in the opposite direction. Their infrastructre is a shambles -- they just elected their third state chair this year and they have no office b/c their budget won't allow it. I can't say this for sure but I'd be stunned if there is any sort of reliable voter list at all, let alone one that has had any sort of scrubbing of abandoned addresses or any sort of flagging by issues. Or any sort of outreach beyond the usual and used-up ones of AM radio, gun clubs, Ron Paul/Tea Party cells, and some churches.
And not all of those folks are going to be happy with their nominee, whomever it is, given the hostility of the primary.
In other words, the things that matter to folks who read a blog like MYDD are the things that will give Reid a big advantage in the voter identification, persuasion and mobilization stages of the campaign.
This leads to the reason why ...
3. The collapse of Sue Lowden is such an important development. She's really the only one, due to her personal wealth and her land-developer-husband's business connections, who could put together any sort of resources necessary to broadcast enough to overcome the lack of any sort of up-to-date voter targeting. In other words, the way to beat what I described above is to have a message environment so favorable that none of the stuff I wrote above matters.
Angle will do great at communicating her message to those supporters who are ready to receive it -- mostly hard-line right-wingers in CD-3 (Washoe and rurals, where a plurality of hard-line right-wingers reside). But Angle is not going to have the same level of knee-jerk support from Nevada's own version of Fox News, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which continues to do all it can to try to push the nomination to Lowden or Tarkanian.
4. Angle is well-known kook and the establishment Republican money, nationally and in state, is going to find other outlets.
5. In any event, there's simply not enough hard-line right-wing voters to win if any GOP nominee gets wiped out by Obama-like proportions in Cd-1 and Cd-2.
Which would have seemed very unlikely given Reid's very un-Obama-like levels of support among high-performance Democratic constituencies a few months ago. But a combination of the advertising noted in the main post, the sort of outreach I described above, and a general abhorrence by those same constituencies of a candidate who openly opposes Social Security and Medicaid (ie Angle) is going to generate, more than likley, the sorts of margins from Democratic-leaning and up-for-grabs voters which can neutralize and offset even an energized hard-line right-wing portion of the electorate.
6. Finally I think the presence of his son on the ticket as the Gov nominee against a strong Republican candidate in Sandoval may provide an "outlet valve" for Democratic or NP voters who want to "send a message" to the political establishment. They can send their anti-incumbent message and still vote for Harry Reid.
So yes its all good news for Reid's re-election. He may still have a lot of work to do to win over moderate to conservative voters with D or NP registrations but the underlying structure of the race continues to favor him much more than horserace polls reveal.
I'd think you would agree that horserace polls, especially 10 months out, aren't nearly as important a measure as fundamentals of a race like money, organization and partisan index of the electorate.
On top of which, most of the polls of this race have been done by Mason-Dixon paid for by the rabidly anti-Reid Las Vegas Review Journal; M-D has consistently (and I believe deliberately) overweighted self-identified "conservatives" and rural voters going back at least 3 cycles.
As for the "third-stringers," they are indeed back benchers and the electorate knows next to nothing about them at this point. That will change, to Reid's advantage, by election day. The primary is going to be a tea-bag festival, with everyone running as hard to the right as possible, and its going to produce a republican who will be broke and possibly irreparably divided republican organization.
Thats a pretty good summation of his basic approach to public life. Latest one is that he's threatening to sue the legislature for not drafting laws based on his proposals to dissolve collective bargaining contracts for teachers.
Gibbons has a very small audience for his stunts right now; 50%+1 of GOP primary voters. Thats probably 12 = 15% of the state. He's going to tea-bag as much as he can, as often as he can. Going to be interesting to watch if he can pull it off.
I posted a comment in a thread on an unrelated topic that I'll try to dig up about why I think Reid's chances are very very good for re-election, but the short version is a) you can't beat something with nothing b) Reid's campaign is definitely something, and oddly should be getting the support of folks like Markos b/c of its focus on voter targeting and ground-level organizing and c) the Republicans really have nothing, in terms of message, organization or candidate.
This latest flap doesn't help Reid b/c he's quite weak with blog-reading liberals who find him too cautious on health care and other issues (like me) but having Michael Steel attack him as a racist seems a taylor-made strategy by the Republicans to blunt the damage to Reid.
I've got no empirical basis for saying this but circumsantial evidence suggests to me that they may well have known but had no choice but to stick to a strategy of competing for traditional caucus-goers. Facing a severe deficit in resources and knowing they were relying on a risky "slingshot" strategy of parlaying Iowa into national momentum, there's no way Edwards could have really done what the Clinton campaign did in December, which was to realize the primary electorate in all the early states was going to be much larger and to revise its vote totals and voter contact strategy accordingly (at least thats what they did here in NV, with surprising success).
This is really late to add, but I have a perspective to throw in on the JJ dinner and the Nov phase of the campaign. Because a week later was the Clark County (NV) JJ dinner at which all 8 candidates appeared and spoke, just after the nationally televised debate at which the pro-Clinton sections of the crowd shouted down Edwards and Obama when they went after her.
The Clinton campaign showed its organizational strength that night by packing first the debate auditorium and then the JJ dinner (benefitting in both cases from a sympathetic county party leadership.)
When Clinton took the stage at the JJ dinner, the room erupted with "turn up the heat" signs and chants. Although I agree that as a slogan, made no sense in the context of the national campaign, I think it was based upon a presumption which was the still-operative premise of the Clinton campaign -- inevitability. More precisely, regaining the appearance of inevitability, after the stumble in the Phila debate over immigration and then the "planted questions" frenzy. And I think that night here in NV, she seemed to be on her way back into the driver's seat.
After she spoke, 80% of the room emptied out, and Obama spoke to a cold and quiet hall. In that context, speaking to a highly intense support base, "turn up the heat" made a lot of sense.
And I think what allowed her to hold on to her support in NH and NV in Jan after losing Iowa was the very strong bond her campaign forged with its supporters, and I think "turn up the heat" was really aimed at reaffirming that intense commitment when the campaign stumbled for the first time all year.
My sense of the campaign overall was that it couldn't forge that sense of commitment and intensity once it got out of the early states, so that paradoxically she turned what was supposed to be her strongest date -- Super Tuesday -- into her greatest challenge. Obama's campaign, for all the criticism of its supporters as true believers, seemed to be able to build a broad base of support rather than merely an intense but narrow one.
Ordinarily in a primary, having intense support of the core electorate is a winning formula, so I still think that Clinton didn't do so much wrong as Obama seemed to do everything right.
Funny you should ask that. I've been reading regularly but not posting much due to severe time constraints but I did think today about posting on why Sen Reid is a much better than 50-50 bet for re-election.
Exhibit A is the absolute disarray of the state republican party, from the top down to the local -- and with Sue Lowden, the front-runner in the GOP primary, closely tied to both.
Exhibit B is the still solid state of the state Democratic party, which despite growing pains, still benefits from solid organization, a largely successful melding of professional staff and grassroots activism.
Exihbit C is and demographic and registration trends towards a Democratic majority that have not abated even if they've slowed since spiking in the 07-08 cycle.
That is, there are still 100K more Dems than Republicans registered in this state, and the chances of Republicans reversing that in the next 10 months are very slim.
Reid also benefits from not only his substantial financial advantage, which will be much much wider than the edge Daschle had over Thune, but from 30 years of running statewide. In that time, he's lost one statewide race and one city-wide race (both in the early 1970s) and he's won so much support among every sector of Nevada civil society that he'll be getting support from gaming, mining, labor, environmental activists, every professional group you can think of, which will give him a much deeper reach into the electorate than anything the rabidly partisan RJ can provide on behalf of the republican.
In short, he's going to win it on the ground, in an unspectacular, 4-years in a cloud of dust fashion.
Though based on nothing more than instinct, I suspect Pawlenty represents the GOP's best candidate in 2012 -- a new face who can run against the DC Establishment, and a guy who might be good at appealing to the hard-right teabaggers and religious conservatives without alienating moderate independents (admittedly I base this on one speech I heard him give). And I imagine that he'd pose a real threat to the midwest industrial states where Obama did very well but which will be among the slowest to come out of the recession -- MI, OH, WI.
I also think BBA is a political winner in any environment, especially the current one, espcially for a republican. It appears "balanced" and non-partisan; economically moderate "common sense"; and anti-politician all at once. With Huckabee probably out of the running, he is probably seeking to use BBA to tap into the economic populist wing of the republican primary electorate (ie, anticorporate, flat tax, etc.)
I think he's precisely the kind of politician that republican donors and political operators (as distinct from activists) like, and I could well imagine the Republican party leaders coalescing around him as the alternative to Palin.
In my home state of NV, if its an early state again in 2012, I think he'd have a hard time getting traction against Romney or even Palin but thats largely because the moderate establishment of the GOP is in such a shambles.
The claim of maglev proponents, and I don't know anything about it, is that it can use existing rail track beds so would be much less expensive than laying new track beds for a high-speed train. But I really don't know if thats true at all.
IN any event, part of the story here is that Rogich is an investor and partner in one of two competing maglev proposals that will compete for the seed money available in the bill.
Stories like this remind me that professional politicians are really different kinds of people. There seems to be absolutely nothing to be gained for the Obama folks by excluding Dean and absolutely nothing to lose by saying a few nice words on his behalf at this event or some other point. And yet...
If one were to try to read this substantively, one would want to know if this signals that Kane will not follow what to me is much more significant than the "50 state" state strategy -- Dean's decision to share funds raised at events with the host state party. If I were someone with skin in the operations of the DNC or of a state party, I'd want to know the answer to that much more than anything else.
As a student, I read your book "Whose Side Are You On?" when it came out about 15 years ago. For someone who had been raised in a civil-rights/ anti-war liberal tradition, it was the first time I really understood the strengths and weaknesses of the labor movement in more than merely political terms.
We badly need more people like you in Congress, who have a real perspective on whats happened to our economy over the past generation and how it can be different.