Obama holds edge in Nevada going into Election Day

Early voters voting later to beat the deadline Friday night in Las Vegas

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – With more than 700,000 votes already cast, Nevadans go to the polls Tuesday with both the President Obama and Mitt Romney camps predicting victory.

About 56 percent – a record – of the state’s 1.2 million voters participated in early voting, either in person or by absentee ballot, and by party preference, the Democrats have the edge.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said that when the polls closed Friday for early voting, 701,845 of Nevada‘s voters have cast their votes.

The total includes those who have sent back their absentee ballots, although the votes will be counted with the rest of the in-person votes on Tuesday.

Democrats are leading by more than 47,000 votes statewide, with about 44 percent of the early vote, while registered Republicans accounted for 36 percent of the vote, the secretary of state said.

Of those who had voted, 307,877 were registered Democrats while 259,913 were registered Republicans. There were 134,055 who were Independents or who they not disclose their party affiliations or 19 percent of the early voters.

This gives Democrats optimism that they will prevail in the end and garner Nevada’s six crucial electoral votes.

But Republicans insist that this lead does not match the 2008 figures when Obama beat John McCain, and a surge on Election Day will put the GOP on top.

David Damore, an associate professor of political science at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies campaigns and elections, told the Washington Post the final vote tally is still unclear.

He told the Post, how the vote will break down is clear yet, but the Democrats hold a huge lead — 70,000 — in populous Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.

The more telling indicator may be the numbers from Washoe County, where Reno is located. Republicans and Democrats were neck-and-neck there, Damore said.

Romney needs a “huge” Republican turnout statewide, a strong Republican showing from independent voters and a poor turnout from Democrats, the Post reported.

In Nevada, Damore said, “Romney needs a miracle.”

What gives Republicans reasons to hope is that four years ago, Democrats led the early-voting by 12 percentage points. This year that gap has been cut to seven points, according to figures compiled by the Associated Press.

Given that Republicans often turn out on Election Day in disproportionate numbers, “we feel very good about where we stand in Nevada,” said Romney senior advisor Russ Schreifer last week.

But Democrats contend what really matters is not how Obama performed over McCain but how he is doing – and will finish – against Romney.

Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at facebook.com/BertEljera

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