Early voting makes Nevada special election a free-for-all

Early voting in the special election in Nevada’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District begins Saturday. And in a little-watched race where getting voters to the polls is half the battle, both sides are hoping to make early votes count.

Typically, about half of Nevadans vote before election day, according to University of Nevada, Reno political science professor Eric Herzik, so the weeks before Election Day provide a rich source of potential votes for both sides.

The caveat with that is that CD-2 is a large district that encompasses many rural areas, and “rural residents often don’t vote early at the same levels of urban residents,” said Herzik. As a result, the votes cast could be indicative of which direction the race is leaning.

“Given that the rural [voters] are more Republican, something to look for is whether more Republicans vote early than Democrats,” he explained. “If that is the case, then Marshall’s uphill climb gets tougher.”

Republicans have a voter registration advantage in the district, making Mark Amodei, the Republican candidate, the favorite. But experts say the race is likely to be closer than that registration would suggest.

“I believe that the results are going to be much more narrow than the polling because there is so little interest in the race, and there is so little activity on the part of the campaigns,” said one Republican political consultant.

“Turnout is THE factor in the race,” Herzik wrote to TheDC. “There isn’t overwhelming interest in the race, and many voters are more occupied with the end of summer and the start of school. Both parties know this and have organized get-out-the-vote efforts. Democrats obviously need a strong get-out-the-vote effort to negate the large advantage Republicans hold in total number of registered voters.”

That factor could negate Republicans’ advantage, if Democrats can effectively get their base to vote.

“In low turnout, it is all based on who shows up,” said the consultant. “So who is better equipped to turn out their voters?”

Both Democrats and Republicans make that claim.

“Part of our plan all along has been centered around voter identification and awareness plans that would be then be the precursor to a very aggressive get-out-the-vote plan,” said Amodei communications director Peter DeMarco. “Early voting in Nevada is becoming more and more popular … and especially in a race like this, where it’s a special election and turn out could be lower than usual, it makes it even more important to get your voters to the polls as quickly as possible.”

DeMarco said the Amodei campaign was employing “necessary tactics to identify and communicate with likely voters.”