In 2008 President Obama built insurmountable leads in early voting such that even if John McCain had competed heavily in Nevada, he would have had no chance to overcome the Obama early voting ground game. 2012 continues to be a very different story. After being shut out in 2008, Republicans have now won 3 of the 5 early voting days in Washoe County. Today’s Washoe report shows Republicans casting 3541 ballots versus Democrats 3310 ballots. This continues the trend of Republicans eating into Democrats overall lead which now stands at 983 more ballots cast. At this juncture in 2008 Democrats had an early voting advantage of 6353 ballots cast, a -5370 ballot difference. Note that the entire remaining advantage is from the day 1 lead of 985 ballots and since then Republicans have averaged 0.5 more ballots cast than Democrats per day. Here is the current trend of Republicans and Democrats % of the overall early vote:
A couple interesting things about this chart. The Republicans make up of the total early voters has flattened out around 42.5% but the Democrats continue to see marked declines as a % of the overall vote dropping at a rate of 2% per day since early voting began. Although Republicans captured much of this vote on Day 2, it has been the Independents/Other parties capturing much of the Democrats decline increasing its vote % by 0.8pp per day on average. This only heightens the need for Mitt Romney to really gain ground with the Independents to neutralize a decided advantage Obama enjoyed with this group in 2008.
In actual ballots cast the Democrats are slightly outpacing their 2008 turnout at this juncture totaling 16,792 versus 15,469 — an 8.6% increase or 1323 ballots. Republicans on the other hand are dramatically outpacing their 2008 performance. Ballots cast by Republicans thus far total 15,809 compared to 9116 in 2008 — a 73.4% increase or 6693 ballots.
The Washoe Model
Right now my model is overstating Democrat turnout. The average daily turnout for Democrats after Day 1 is only 66.2% of the Day 1 result and not the 86.6% expected based on 2008 results. The overall opportunity for Republicans to make gains is greater going forward based on what appears to be a definite enthusiasm drop-off in early voting by Democrats when you look at both Clark and Washoe County. The model did however practically nail the Republican % of the Democrat vote predicting 107% when in actuality it was 108%. This was based on the assumption of a 3.85% daily growth rate from 2008. The 2012 daily growth rate for Republicans as a % of the Democrat vote is 7.1%. I’m going to wait one more day before tweaking the model even with the overstated Democrat turnout because adjusting the rate of change for Republican growth can have a disproportionate impact on the model. Since today’s results were largely in-line with the model’s growth rate another day’s data would be meaningful in increasing the accuracy of new assumptions. As it stands the model expects Republicans to have a nearly 9000 early vote advantage heading into election day. In 2008 Democrats cast 11,987 more ballots in early voting than did Republicans. This would be a 21,000 ballot swing in a county President Obama won overall by 22,791 votes.