Nevada Republicans take early voting edge into Tuesday's election



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RENO, Nevada — Nevada's two-week early voting period ended with 23,000 more Republicans than Democrats casting ballots, and political analysts say that will provide a boost to GOP candidates in Tuesday's election.

Of the state's 1.2 million active voters, Democrats have a 62,036-registrant edge over Republicans. But that edge isn't reflected in the balloting to date.

A total of 136,723 Republicans voted by Friday's early voting deadline compared with 113,480 Democrats, giving the GOP a 7 percentage point edge, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Republicans even outvoted Democrats, by 267 votes out of nearly 192,000 cast, in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County around Las Vegas.

Political strategist Jim Denton of Henderson said midterm elections typically draw voters who are whiter, older and more Republican, and this year is no exception.

He thinks Nevada Republicans will do well Tuesday and will take control of the state Senate but narrowly fall short of capturing the Assembly. Democrats own an 11-10 edge in the Senate and a 27-15 edge in the Assembly.

Denton, who correctly predicted the margin of victories of President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada in 2010, also thinks GOP challenger Cresent Hardy can unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford if Democrats fail to turn out in large enough numbers Tuesday.

Over the last half century, Denton said, only one two-term president's party has gained seats in the sixth year of his presidency. Every other president and has party have suffered major losses at the local, state and federal level.

"I can boil down to two words why Republicans are more energized this election cycle: Barack Obama. It's Obama fatigue and Obamacare," Denton told The Associated Press on Sunday.

"This electorate looks nothing like the electorate that elected Barack Obama and Harry Reid four years ago. It's considerably older, considerably more Republican and considerably less minority-based," he added.

But Nevada Democratic Party spokesman Zach Hudson said his party remains optimistic about its chances.

"We're confident Nevada voters will see through Karl Rove and the Koch brothers' dark lies and elect Democrats up and down the ticket Tuesday who will fight to ensure everyone has a fair shot at success, not just the wealthy," he said in a statement Sunday.

Nevada Democrats also are pinning their hopes on the 52,000 non-partisan or third-party voters who cast ballots during the early voting period.

"Nevada is a battleground state for a reason," Democratic state Treasurer Kate Marshall, who's running for secretary of state, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "And I think we'll have a lot of crossover voters. Our internal (polling) is showing that. If you are not able to draw support from everybody, I don't think you can win statewide in Nevada."

Early voting turnout was only 25 percent of all active voters, and election officials predict an overall turnout of 45-50 percent when polls close on Tuesday. Generally, light turnout tends to favor Republicans.

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