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VICTOR JOECKS: What to watch for as Nevada begins early voting

Nevada might be the most-watched state in the nation on election night. With early voting starting Saturday, here’s what to keep an eye on.

The first thing to know is that there’s likely to be a partisan split in terms of how people vote. Nevada mails ballots to all active voters. It offers extensive early voting. People can also vote traditionally on Election Day.

In 2020, almost half of voters voted by mail. That included 319,000 Democrats and 181,000 Republicans. Another 40.6 percent of voters used in-person early voting. Republicans outnumbered Democrats, 249,000 to 166,000. Among the 11 percent of voters casting a ballot in-person on Election Day, Republicans slightly out-voted Democrats. This pattern is likely to continue.

If a county releases mail ballot results before early votes, expect Democrats to jump to a lead. If early votes come first, Republicans should be ahead. This dichotomy could produce a substantial swing on election night. It may look suspicious, but it’s important to understand why that could happen.

Tracking who voted early and by mail offers an indication of which way an election is headed. If there is a major red wave coming, you should see it in the data by late next week. If the race is as tight as the polls show, the parties should be close.

One thing you can see now is that the voter registration numbers look better for Republicans than in past elections. In 2018, Democrats had a 75,000 statewide edge in registration. In 2020, their advantage was 87,000. As of September, their edge is down to just more than 50,000. That’s a 3 percentage point lead. That’s down from almost 5 percentage points in 2018 and 2020.

Democrats haven’t had a late surge in Clark County either. The county updates its registration numbers hourly. Since the secretary of state’s September numbers came out, Democrats have netted just 2,900 voters in Clark County.

It’s understandable that Nevada’s top-of-the-ticket races have dominated the headlines. Adam Laxalt’s challenge to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto could determine control of the Senate. Nevada is a testing ground to see if Hispanic voters are trending Republican.

But there are several interesting races further down the ballot. Drew Johnson is running against Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones. Johnson has an extensive background in public policy. He might be the one to break the stranglehold Democrats have on the commission.

Carrie Cox is running for Henderson City Council and is sounding the alarm on decreasing public safety. Henderson has a long and well-deserved reputation as a good old boys club. A Cox victory would shake things up and could force the city to be more forthright about rising crime.

Republican hopes to control the state Senate likely rest on Tina Brown. She’s running in Senate District 9, which has a 10-point Democrat registration advantage. That’s a tough hurdle, but Brown is a really good candidate. She could pull it off.

At least there’s one thing everyone can agree on. It’ll be nice to not see any more political ads on TV.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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