Dem 49
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Ties 2
GOP 49
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Where Things Stand

It may be the weekend, but the news waits for no man or woman. And late Friday, two—or arguably three—more major results were announced.

To start, in news that will gladden the hearts of Republicans (especially the non-MAGA types), Joe Lombardo (R) has been elected governor of Nevada. With 95% of the vote in, he was up 49.2% to 46.9% over Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). That's an insurmountable gap, and after the various major media outlets declared it as such, Sisolak conceded. Sisolak becomes the first incumbent governor or senator to go down to defeat this cycle.

Meanwhile, in news that will gladden the hearts of Democrats, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) has been re-elected. He's up 51.8% to 46.1% over Blake Masters with 83% reporting. To win, Masters would need almost two-thirds of the remaining ballots, which is not likely to happen under any circumstances, unless there happens to be a drop box in Joe Arpaio's living room. It's certainly not likely to happen when the outstanding ballots are largely mail-in and largely from mildly blue Maricopa County.

Also on that front, Adrian Fontes (D) has been elected the next Arizona Secretary of State. He's up 52.8% to 47.2% over election denier Mark Finchem (R) with 83% reporting. That's pretty much exactly the same math as in the Senate race, which means Finchem's position became as hopeless as that of Blake Masters. This obviously means the state, and country, just got a big firewall that will protect against election shenanigans.

The gubernatorial race is thus the only major race left to be resolved in Arizona. As of late Friday night, Katie Hobbs (D) is up on Kari Lake (R), 50.7% to 49.3%. There are about 370,000 ballots still to count (again, skewing strongly mail-in and fairly strongly Maricopan). Lake is down by about 31,000 votes. So, she'd need about 54% of the remaining votes to be elected. When we crunched the numbers yesterday, that number was 53%. So, things are trending in the wrong direction for the Republican, and we would not be surprised to see this race called for Hobbs by the end of the weekend. If so, it's triple egg on the face for Donald Trump, since he backed Masters, Finchem and Lake.

Alaska is still pending, of course, but we know those elections will eventually produce a Republican governor and a Republican senator. And we're all going to have to wait a month to find out about Georgia. Since the drama is quickly going out of the Arizona gubernatorial race, then that means the remaining fireworks this weekend/next week are going to come courtesy of the House of Representatives and the Nevada U.S. Senate seat.

Turning to the House, here are the current numbers from 10 major outlets:

Outlet Rep Seats Dem Seats Toss-ups
AP 211 199 25
The New York Times 211 201 23
The Wall Street Journal 211 201 23
Politico 211 199 25
FiveThirtyEight 211 205 19
CNN 211 203 21
Fox 211 201 23
ABC News 211 205 19
CBS News 213 206 16
NBC News 220 215 0

Obviously, NBC News is willing to go out on a limb and project every seat. We'd take that with at least a few grains of salt. Otherwise, there's pretty broad consensus that the Republicans have nailed down 211 seats or so, the Democrats are around 200, and there remain 20 or so seats in dispute.

And then there is the Nevada Senate race. When we took a look at this one yesterday, Adam Laxalt (R) was up by almost 1% over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. Since then, things have tightened up. Laxalt now has 468,437 votes to Cortez Masto's 467,575 with 94% reporting. That's a gap of 862 votes, or just 0.1%. Put another way, Cortez Masto picked up about 1% in one day, with the counting of an additional 4% of the vote.

As politics watchers/junkies, we are of course dying to know how this is going to turn out. Undoubtedly, many/most readers are, as well. So, let's do a crude projection. There are 17 counties in Nevada; let's see what would happen if the uncounted votes went exactly the way the already-counted votes in each county went:

County Rep. % Rep Votes Dem. % Dem Votes % Counted Projected Net Gain
Carson City 52.50% 12,253 43.70% 10,182 92% Laxalt +172 votes
Churchill County 71.30% 6,942 24.50% 2,382 95% Laxalt +230
Clark County 45.10% 292,087 52% 336,741 95% Cortez Masto +2,284
Douglas County 64.70% 17,615 32.60% 8,889 99% Laxalt +86
Elko County 75.90% 11,257 19.90% 2,948 99% Laxalt +80
Esmeralda County 76.40% 343 14.50% 65 99% Laxalt +3
Eureka County 86.40% 649 9.20% 69 99% Laxalt +6
Humboldt County 73.90% 3,973 21.50% 1,155 99% Laxalt +27
Lander County 75.70% 1,662 17.40% 383 99% Laxalt +12
Lincoln County 79.90% 1,636 14.90% 306 79% Laxalt +335
Lyon County 69.10% 15,992 26.30% 6,088 99% Laxalt +95
Mineral County 59.60% 1,117 34.50% 646 99% Laxalt +4
Nye County 66.60% 13,374 28.50% 5,728 99% Laxalt +73
Pershing County 71.80% 1,241 23.60% 408 99% Laxalt +8
Storey County 67.70% 1,693 28% 701 99% Laxalt +9
Washoe County 46.90% 84,100 50.30% 90,203 92% Cortez Masto +515
White Pine County 74.80% 2,503 20.40% 681 99% Laxalt +17

As you can see, Laxalt is winning most of Nevada's counties. However, those counties are largely small and sparsely populated, and he doesn't figure to make up all that much ground there. And while Cortez Masto is only winning two counties, it's the two biggies, including the one where 60% of all Nevadans live (Clark). If we run the numbers above, Laxalt will net 1,157 votes in his counties, and Cortez Masto will net 2,799 votes in hers. That means that, if current trends hold, Cortez Masto will net 1,642 votes overall. That would make her a winner by 780 votes.

It's possible that the remaining votes will not be as friendly to Cortez Masto as the already-counted votes have been. But if you were betting, which would be quite apropos given that it's Nevada, it's more likely that she'll do a little better than this projection, and not worse. The numbers above include in-person votes, which tend to skew more Republican, of course.

Let us imagine that, once the returns are all in, Cortez Masto is indeed declared the winner by 780-800 votes. Nevada has no automatic recount law, but Laxalt can request one if the results are within 1% (which they would be) and he's willing to pay for it (which he, or the national GOP, certainly would be). A recount would probably take a week or so, which would mean another week on pins and needles for politics-watchers. However, recounts rarely shift more than a couple of hundred votes. Recall that, barring some externality (e.g., the use of a wonky ballot in one particular county), it is basically equally likely for each candidate to gain or to lose a vote. Put another way, there's usually something like 1% of the ballots that are potentially disputable. In this case, that would be something like 10,000 ballots. If even half of those are counted differently than in the initial count (which would be a very high figure), and each decision is basically a coin flip, it's hard for one side to win 5,000 coin flip trials by a score of 2,900 to 2,100. Possible, but very hard.

The upshot is that, barring the discovery of a cache of votes in a very red Nevada county, it sure looks to us like Cortez Masto is going to hold on to her seat. Tuesday is the last day that ballots can be received, and it is likely that the race will be called by Wednesday, if not before. Then we will see about a recount, though it's at least possible that Laxalt will decline. If he plans a future run, he might want to avoid developing a reputation as a sore loser. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates