On MSNBC this morning, Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston said that President Obama and Democrats are “absolutely crushing” Mitt Romney and Republicans in early voting in the state. He’s right. Democrats lead Republicans on every metric: mail ballots returned, in-person early voting, and total ballots cast.
ROBERTS: We want to dig deeper into the numbers with Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston, host of “Ralston Reports,” our NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, which is KSNV, and also the author of the “Ralston Reports” website and joining us is Allison Sherry, Washington correspondent for The Denver Post. It’s great to have you all here. Jon, I want to start with you. Key in Nevada, our polls showing that President Obama with this lead among the state’s large Hispanic population. NBC News Political Director Chuck Rodd reports even Republicans feel Nevada is so well-organized on the Democratic side of things, it’s really going to be hard to overcome the advantage. So, what are you hearing on the ground?
RALSTON: Well, on the ground, Thomas, the Democrats are absolutely crushing the Republicans in early voting. Where I’m sitting right now, Clark County, the Las Vegas area, more than 200,000 people have already voted, it might be a third of the total vote has already been cast and the Democrats have about a 36,000 vote lead in ballots returned if you’re assuming that most of those are voting for the President, that’s a real problem for Mitt Romney, but those Hispanic numbers you mentioned with the 50-point lead, which is about what exit polls showed, by the way, in 2008 Obama beat John McCain by. That’s a real problem, again, for Mitt Romney. Hispanics will be about 15% of the electorate here…
ROBERTS: Jon, as we look at the Romney Political Director Rich Beeson telling Politico, quote about Nevada “Nevada has been the toughest nut for us to crack.” He also points, though, to some hopeful signs including winning early voting two days in a row in Washoe County, which includes Reno, that’s exactly where Governor Romney was earlier this week. He says that John McCain never won early voting one day there. Beeson also pinning hopes on big margins in the rural counties, what do you think of that?
RALSTON: I think all of that is true, Thomas, but I think comparing 2008, which was a landslide wave election especially here in Nevada where John McCain essentially abandoned the state and did not campaign here is a fool’s errand for the Republicans, but what they’re right about is that Romney will win by a big margin in rural Nevada, but that’s only about 12%, maybe 15% of the vote. Washoe County is a swing county in the state. The registration is about even. The Republicans are doing okay up there but not great, Thomas. The Democrats are keeping it about even. Romney has to win Washoe County by five to seven points at least I would say to have a chance of winning the state. There’s no evidence yet, and, again, we only have six days and 14 days of early voting in the book that that’s happening.
One of the reasons comparing the early vote to the 2008 scenario is not accurate is because Obama is leading Romney by as much as 51% among Latino voters, and more Latinos will vote this year than ever before. The Hill reported, “Obama leads Mitt Romney by 70 to 25 percent in a poll of Latino likely voters conducted for NBC News, Telemundo and the Wall Street Journal. That’s similar to a 71 to 20 percent lead he has with Hispanic registered voters according to a new poll from Latino Decisions.”
Voter registration among Latinos is up by 15% in Nevada from 2008. The Obama ground game is on second to none, and get out the vote is working in Nevada. The Republican Party’s gamble on the small tent of only white men is not paying off in Nevada so far.