Nevada Early Voting Jump Starts Senate, Presidential Polls For Democrats

Nevada early voting was a major focus on the Democratic party this weekend as a tight Senate race and swing-state status in the presidential elections gave it an edge despite its paltry six electoral votes. Even Barack Obama showed up to support his party’s nominees, reported NBC News.

“Let’s face it, Nevada is always close. Nevada always makes you a little nervous, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. But that’s what makes it exciting!”

Like Obama’s campaigning in the rest of the country, his call for early voting in Nevada may have had more to do with the state’s Senate race than the presidential election. Hillary Clinton is comfortably ahead of Donald Trump is every recent local poll, averaging a five percent lead according to the Real Clear Politics average.

While some pundits may see Nevada as a foregone conclusion for president, the early voting campaign is also targeting the state’s pivotal Senate race. Polls for that face-off are much less decisive. Harry Reid, the former minority leader who will step down this year, will either be replaced by Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the state’s former attorney general, or Republican Joe Heck, a doctor and veteran of the Iraq War.

Before casting an early vote for one of the two, it’s important to take a look at their stances. In a Reno Gazette-Journal side-by-side comparison of their views last week, both Nevada U.S. Senate hopefuls extolled their own abilities to pass bipartisan legislation and made similar criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, especially the controversial Cadillac tax. On the topic of national security, both espouse intervention in the Middle East. Heck’s position specifically mentions asserting U.S. dominance on the world stage, while Masto mentions U.S. air support and the arming of Iraqi Kurds.

In Nevada, the topic of immigration is bound to be one of the most closely watched positions of the two Senate candidates up for early voting. While the state has only the 15th largest number of undocumented immigrants at around 138,000, it actually has the highest proportion in relation to total population, reported Pew Research Center. The group accounts for around 7.6 percent of people living there. Each candidate says that they support a path to citizenship, though Heck does express more skepticism at extending that right to adults who have entered the country illegally.

Republicans generally don’t fare as well with in-person early voting as they do on Election Day, which has made their own pre-emptive push in Nevada more subdued than that of their counterpart. In 2012, Obama came into the final count with an advantage: Around a third of the nationwide vote had already been cast. Michael McDonald of the U.S. Election Project told Politico that Democrats are staking out an even bigger lead this year.

“Democrats have narrowed already the advantage that the Republicans had in 2012.”

The early voting drive wasn’t just limited to political figures in Nevada. Pop star Katy Perry gave a speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on Saturday decked out in a “Nasty Woman” T-shirt, making a tongue-in-cheek reference to Trump’s comment about Clinton in the final presidential debate. The singer underlined the importance of the state in national elections, where results are much closer than in her home California. Perry also targeted youth voters by visiting college dorm rooms.

Nevada is just one of several states where constituents who have already made up their minds can head to the polls for early voting weeks before Nov. 8 arrives, a full list of which can be found at Vote.org.

If you’re looking to join Nevada early voting for U.S. Senate and the White House, the local Secretary of State website provides full information about the 97 locations where you can do so.

[Image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]