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Who’s winning in Nevada? The Reid v. Angle math

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 01-11-2010

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(CNN) - Wondering what to watch for in the early Nevada returns? Well the campaigns have already begun spinning the numbers. Here are the Democrats and Republicans takes on where things stand.

First the facts: According to Nevada elections officials, 65 percent of everyone who will vote in this election has already done so, either by early voting or mail-in ballot. More Democrats voted early than Republicans, but keep in mind, there are more registered Democrats in the state.

That’s where the agreement ends.

Here’s what supporters of Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle will tell you.

Republicans say about 10,000 more Democrats voted early than Republicans - but it’s not enough to deliver Reid a victory. Why? Because 44 percent of all registered voters are Democrats, but they cast only 43.5 percent of all early votes. So those pulling for Angle say Democrats “under performed” by .5 percent (The math: 44-43.5 = 0.5%). In contrast, 41 percent of all early voters were Republicans, and Republicans make up 35 percent of all registered voters. Therefore, the GOP says, Nevada Republicans “over performed” by 6.0 percent (The math: 41-35 = 6%). They say this shows a significant enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans, and it will only get bigger on Tuesday. That’s because historically, Nevada Republicans are more likely to turn out on Election Day, and they say this year certainly will be no exception.

It’s no surprise the Democrats crunch the numbers very differently and after early voting they see no enthusiasm gap.

This is how the Democrats do the math: They found 38 percent of all Republicans eligible to vote have already cast a ballot. Compare that to Democrats’ turnout: 34.6 percent of all eligible Democrats already voted. The difference between the two numbers - which they call the “turnout advantage” - is just under 3.5 percent. Democrats say if this were a Republican wave election that Republican turnout advantage would be bigger. They point out that in 2006 - the last midterm election - Republicans had a 6 percent turnout advantage and that year Republicans did not do well on Election Day.

The Democrats also point out that Republicans normally get an Election Day bump from rural voters. But this year rural Nevadans participated in early voting at a much higher than usual rate. Democrats are betting voting patterns won’t be that different on Tuesday than they were in the overall early balloting, meaning no Republican surge at the polling places.

The Democrats conclusion: they’re in good shape to win.

So what should you believe? Nevada’s veteran political reporter Jon Ralston agrees the early vote does not reflect a huge Republican surge. In a blog post over the weekend he concluded, “Harry Reid has a chance to win if that overall edge stays below the historical 6 percent edge the GOP has in midterms.” Ralston is predicting a Reid victory writing, “all the data I have seen tell me that unless Reid loses independents by 15 points or so, he will hold on.”

But there’s the rub. What these numbers don’t reflect is the independent vote. Republicans think Angle will win 6 out of 10 independents, enough to give her a victory. Democrats say their internal polling shows Reid is doing just fine among independents, and that he will hold his advantage. But, don’t forget in Nevada there are other candidates on the ballot - and the final complicating factor: voters have the option of picking “None of the Above.”

Bottom line it’s going to be a late night on Tuesday.

CNN Political Ticker

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