Actual quote from Nevada politics guru Jon Ralston, surveying last night’s final early-voting numbers: “Trump is dead.” That’s overstating it, as we’ll see below on the electoral map, but it ain’t overstating by much. A candidate with a narrow path to 270 can’t afford to see any battleground state slip off the board, even if it’s worth only six EVs. Ralston thought the trends looked bad for Republicans a few days ago, after the first few days of early voting, but allowed for the possibility that GOP turnout might catch up this week. Instead last night’s Democratic turnout was a blockbuster, exceeding even Obama’s 2012 operation in some respects.
We’re well into the phase of the election where bad news from any quarter requires questioning the source’s motives, but Ralston really has no incentive to gamble this much on a prediction unless he’s that confident in it. He predicted in 2010 that Harry Reid would hold onto his Senate seat when many conservatives thought the red wave that year would wipe Reid out and hand his seat to Sharron Angle. Ralston was right. He predicted in 2012 that Obama would defeat Romney in the state but that Republican Dean Heller would win a Senate seat in a nailbiter. Right again. He predicted in 2014 that the big red wave that was brewing would lead to wins for Republicans up and down the ballot in Nevada. Correct. If Trump pulls Nevada out, there’ll be so much egg on his face that he’ll never be able to scrape all of it off. It’ll be a major hit to his reputation as the guy who knows Nevada politics better than anyone. Here he is showing his cards:
Trump’s path was nearly impossible, as I have been telling you, before what happened in Clark County on Friday. But now he needs a Miracle in Vegas on Election Day — and a Buffalo Bills Super Bowl championship is more likely — to turn this around. The ripple effect down the ticket probably will cost the Republicans Harry Reid’s Senate seat, two GOP House seats and control of the Legislature…
—-The Democrats won Clark County by more than 11,000 votes Friday (final mail count not posted yet), a record margin on a record-setting turnout day of 57,000 voters. The Dems now have a firewall — approaching 73,000 ballots — greater than 2012 when Barack Obama won the state by nearly 7 points. The 71,000 of 2012 was slightly higher in percentage terms, but raw votes matter. The lead is 14 percentage points — right at registration. You know what else matters? Registration advantages (142,000 in Clark). Reminder: When the Clark votes were counted from early/mail voting in 2012, Obama had a 69,000 vote lead in Clark County. Game over…
—-Total turnout without those rurals: 768,000, or 52.5 percent. If overall turnout ends up being 80 percent, that means two thirds of the vote is in — close to 2012. Republicans would have to not only win Election Day by close to double digits to turn around the lead Hillary Clinton almost surely has in early voting, but they would have to astronomically boost turnout. The goal for the Dems during early voting was to bank votes and to boost turnout as high as possible to minimize the number of votes left on Election Day to affect races. Folks, the Reid Machine went out with a bang.
Harry Reid may be a scumbag but the Democratic GOTV operation he’s built in Nevada is enviable. If you’re worried about Hillary and the Democrats out-organizing Trump and the RNC, well, this suggests you should be. Trump fans are answering Ralston on Twitter this morning by arguing that there are plenty of Bernie Sanders fans in Clark County and therefore we can’t assume that Democratic early voters are backing Clinton. Well, in the last CNN poll of the state — which had Trump up seven points, by the way — Clinton won Democrats 93/5. Various other polls lately have showed young adults, who were Bernie’s base, finally swinging around behind her, just as many Republicans who were wary of Trump have finally swung around behind him. That’s what happens in crunch time of an election. It’s highly unlikely that the dregs of the anti-Hillary left will make a difference in the Nevada outcome.
The precinct that got the most attention on social media late last night as the vote was winding down was the Cardenas Market in Las Vegas, where voters — mostly Hispanic voters — were in line until after 10 p.m. One of Hillary’s communications guys was there posting photos of how Dems were spending a Friday evening in Sin City:
— Tim Hogan (@timjhogan) November 5, 2016
The Cardenas precinct broke 66/9 for Democrats. Latino early-voting numbers are also way up in Florida, with lots of “low-propensity voters” apparently turning out and polls showing an unusually large advantage for Clinton among Latino voters. If Hillary wins there and in Nevada on Tuesday night, the combination of which would seal the presidency for her, the hype you’ve heard all year about Trump potentially turning out “missing white voters” will be washed away by headlines that “the future is now” — i.e. that it was actually the missing Latino voters, along with many young, newly registered Latinos voting for the first time, who made the difference in the election thanks to their widespread antipathy to Trump. (Nate Cohn was ahead of the curve on that in noting a few days ago how many new nonwhite voters have registered since 2012.) Latino electoral strength is something that will happen in time as their share of the population grows, but few are expecting it to happen this soon. As Ron Brownstein put it:
Not predicting but if HRC loses OH/IA & even NH/MI yet wins with CO/VA/NV/Fl/NC we will have fast forwarded US politics 10 years in 1 cycle
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) November 5, 2016
Trump could pull the upset in some critical heavily white and/or Rust Belt states yet still lose narrowly by getting crushed among Latinos in states where they represent significant minorities. Let’s look at a map, then, with Nevada in Hillary’s column:
That’s Clinton 263, Trump 180 with lots of electoral votes still on the table — but with no margin for error. Trump could win every gray toss-up state there except Colorado and he’d still lose the election. Clinton would win New Hampshire and Maine and lose everything else and she’d still be president. This is why I say it’s not quite true for Ralston to pronounce Trump dead if he loses Nevada, but it’s not all that untrue either. It leaves Trump in the position of having to win every last coin-flip state or to pull something out of Hillary’s column, like Michigan or Pennsylvania. Even if you want to flip Michigan to red on that map, though, Clinton still leads by nearly 50 electoral votes, 247 to 196. She could clinch the presidency by winning nothing more than Florida or the combination of Colorado and North Carolina. Long story short: If you have Republican friends who live in Nevada, you’d better let them know that staying home on Tuesday isn’t an option. Trump needs every last vote to have a chance. The last few polls of him in the state were very good, but Nevada polling is famously difficult and there’s reason to think that Clinton’s poll slide after the Comey announcement may be due partly to Democrats not responding to polls lately rather than a meaningful downturn in her support. We’ll know in 48 hours.
As for poor Joe Heck, Ralston notes up top that the blue wave that’s shaping up in Nevada looks sufficiently daunting that Heck’s probably going to get washed away too. If he does, then the GOP’s chances of holding the Senate will depend on a clean sweep by Richard Burr in North Carolina, Roy Blunt in Missouri, and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire. The Republican incumbent leads in each one, but by no more than 2.4 points on average.