Friday, October 29, 2010

Geeking Out On Voter Data: Harry Reid's In Trouble

I'm on the hook to be supplying election data and analysis (off-air) for a major TV network in addition to my other clients this election, so I've spent the past two days digging deep into the numbers that are out there right now. Today is the final day of early voting, and at least 33.4 percent of registered voters have already cast ballots or mailed them in.

The only thing we really know is how many people of each party have voted early or by mail for four counties that represent nearly 90% of the state, Clark (Vegas), Washoe (Reno), Carson City and Douglas (South shore, Tahoe). The Nevada Secretary of State has also put out party breakdown for the first week of early voting for all counties, so I've incorporated that data as well. (The other 13 counties do not provide daily breakouts of party affiliations.)

I know, I know. It's a lot of numbers. But here's some of what I've distilled:

* As of this morning, Democrats hold about a very tenuous 7,400-vote lead statewide out of more than 330,000 cast, a figure that includes the four counties with up-to-date data plus the first-week totals from the rest of the state. It's actually probably a lot smaller because we haven't got second-week breakdown from 13 counties that represent 10 percent of the state.

* 55,423 "others" have already voted. The GOP needs about 57% of those to neutralize the Democratic statewide advantage.

* All of this, of course, assume that all D's vote D and all R's vote R. They don't, obviously, and Jon Ralston wrote that behind recent CNN-Time poll (which was 49-45 Angle but of which he questions the age of the sample) found significantly more D's said they were voting D than R's for R. If that's true, Harry Reid wins. However, the R-J is out today with another 49-45 poll for Angle in which both candidates are getting about the same support from their own party and Angle is getting 55 percent of independents. The R-J poll doesn't show the oversampling of independents that Ralston found in the CNN-Time poll, either.

* The big question is whether the Republicans are more energized. I've analyzed the data for the four counties that are up-to-date as well as the first-week party-breakdown data for the other four counties with more than 10,000 residents. Together, that accounts for more than 97 percent of the state. The result? In every county, Republicans are outperforming their share of the electorate by at least 5 percentage points and in several cases more than 7 points. That's a GOP surge.

* The reasons why it doesn't make for an automatic Sharron Angle landslide is (a) not all R's vote R and (b) a 5-point overperformance in Clark County by Republicans still doesn't overcome the Democrats' registration advantage there, and Clark County is 66 percent of the state.

The real conclusion is, of course, that there is none. If:

* ...independents break big for Angle, she wins.
* ...the Democrats' mythologized, legendary get-out-the-vote apparatus kicks in today and on Tuesday in Clark County, Reid might win.
* ...anti-Reid voters split a few points among minor-partiers and "none of these jerks," Reid might win.

One more point. It is likely that 60 percent of those who vote will have voted by the end of today. Rarely do percentages change much in terms of party breakdown or even vote outcome percentages after that. That is, the first bunch of numbers we see at about 8 p.m. PT on Tuesday night will be all of this and, historically, the standings don't budge much after that.