Early voting is done in Nevada and here's the scoop as I see it: Mitt Romney's going to have to do a St. Louis Cardinals on Obama to win this state.
He's down to his last out with Democrats winning early voting in Clark County by a wide margin and essentially tying Republicans in Washoe.
That last out is the combination of the rural vote and the independent vote. Because I am a classic live-and-let-live Nevada conservative who writes for the state's largest newspaper and also owns four rural newspapers in Nevada, my gut (I think rightly) tells me not to change the channel on Nevada until that last out is recorded.
Both the rural counties and independents will favor Romney naturally. But now Romney will have to step it up even more. If I may mix sports analogies to make it clearer, Romney's going to need to run the tables.
So, if you're an Obama fan this morning you have a right to feel pretty good after the close of early voting.
If you're a Romney fan (or a St. Louis Cardinal fan) you've got 'em right where you want 'em.
If you just want to figure Nevada out, my advice is to stand by. Nevada is most definitely leaning Obama at this point. But it isn't over. Rural counties and independents, given the right circumstances, can still swing a big bat in this state.
PS: Another factor that's not been talked about enough (in my opinion) is the "Mormon factor". Nevada Mormons are incredibly energized about the Romney campaign. Unlike Sen. Harry Reid, whom many Nevada Mormons privately consider an embarrassment on most counts, Romney is a guy who they think represents the church well. He's a Mormon right out of central casting. To have him in the White House would be a big source of pride. Do not underestimate the power of motivated Mormons -- especially in rural areas -- to get out the vote. It's a big X-factor.
PPS: CBS reports sources within the Romney campaign saying that Nevada is now "off the table". But plenty of optimism that Romney will carry the day on Nov. 6. You can see it here. I'm still urging caution on calling the race now. Romney must "run the tables" as I say above.
PPPS: Both Rove and Barone have also made predictions of a Romney win in the past 24 hours. Undecideds should break 60-40 (maybe 70-30) against Obama. The question is will the independents do the same. Much tension as we move to within 72 hours of the close of the polls.