A surge in early voting, with unexpectedly high turnout among Latino voters on Friday, propelled Democrats to a lead in all early ballots cast in Clark County of about 72,000 — enough to lock up the state for Hillary Clinton and send Republican Donald Trump to defeat thereaccording to longtime Nevada political expert Jon Ralston.
But is there any way Trump could still win Nevada? The state is crucial to any “path to victory” he hopes to follow.
That early ballot Democratic advantage exceeds the 71,000-ballot lead held by Democrats in Nevada early voting four years ago, when Democratic President Barack Obama won the state handily, 52.4 perfect to 45.7 for his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Clark County is Nevada’s largest county and home to nearly three out of ever four Nevada residents. The population of the county is 30 percent Hispanic.
In addition, Nevada is primarily an early-voting state. In 2012, about 70 percent of all voters cast their ballots prior to election day.
According to Ralston’s analysis on Monday, about two-thirds of all Nevada voters have already voted this time around — and Clinton holds an estimated lead of 40,000 votes.
A loss there would be devastating to Trump’s chances of winning the White House. Why is winning Nevada crucial for Trump? Simply because without Nevada, Trump could win every other battleground state — including Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and North Carolina — but still lose the election to Clinton, albeit by a slight Electoral College margin, as this electoral map assembled by Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.com shows.
On that map, Enten points out, Clinton currently holds an edge in polling averages of at least three points in every “blue” state — except Nevada. In other words, barring major polling errors, she is highly likely to win all of the states shown as blue on the map.
But Nevada is supposed to be the exception. In the FiveThirtyEight.com polling average for the state, the state appears to be a toss-up, with Clinton taking a lead of 0.8 points, 47 points to 46.2, as Monday polls rolled in — after the state was tied on Sunday.
But FiveThirtyEight, which gives Clinton a 56 percent chance of winning Nevada, simply ignores early voting results in compiling its averages and projections — and those results may have already rendered the polling irrelevant.
According to Ralston, based on the early voting turnout among Democrats and specifically Latino voters, for Trump to win would require an extraordinary turn of events that would break with historical precedent. Namely, a large number of those early-voting Democrats, including Latino voters, must have voted for Trump rather than Clinton. Clinton would also need to be trailing by a large margin among independent voters to give Trump a chance of winning the state, Ralston said on Monday.
“Let’s suppose that there is an Election Day turnout of 450,000 voters. Trump would probably need to win Tuesday by about 10 points to win,” Ralston wrote. “This is almost impossible, unless the Democrats decide not to turn out voters on Election Day.”
Another potential route to victory in Nevada for Trump would consist of an overwhelming victory among voters in rural counties, outside of the heavily populated Clark County. But that, too, appears to be an extreme long shot for Trump.
While about 100,000 votes in rural Nevada have already been cast, only 165,000 rural Nevadans voted at all in 2012. Even if Trump holds a 30,000-vote lead already — Romney won rural Nevada voters by about 40,000 — and picks up another 20,000 votes on election day, Clinton would need to stay below a 50,000-vote lead in Washoe and Clark Counties combined, according to Ralston’s calculations.
But in 2012, Obama won those two counties by a combined 107,000 votes, meaning that the drop-off from Obama to Clinton wold need to be massive for Trump to win the state.
“I repeat: Trump is dead here, barring a miracle or anomalies invisible not just to me, or many other experts,” Ralston wrote, adding that he surveyed 14 other Nevada political experts — and not one saw a way for Trump to win Nevada.