The Associated Press called the Nevada Senate race Saturday for Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto after a batch of Las Vegas-area votes gave her a 5,000-vote lead that the AP determined she wouldn’t give up.
Cortez Masto’s victory also meant the Democrats would retain control of the Senate.
The AP concluded that Cortez Masto’s lead would be retained even if Republican Adam Laxalt makes gains in rural Nevada counties that are still counting the votes.
His victory allows Democrats to retain control of the Senate with at least 50 seats due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote, even without a victory in Georgia’s runoff in December.
Cortez Masto has benefited from the ballot count since Election Day, winning in Clark County, which accounts for three-quarters of Nevada’s population. Laxalt saw its lead of some 19,000 votes after election night fall to nearly 900 on Saturday before the last votes counted were added to the tally.
The AP determined that the Cotez Masto advance would make additional updates in Reno’s Washoe County as well as among provisional and “cured” ballots, or those with signature or date issues.
Nevadans tend to vote early.
In the 2014 to 2018 elections, more than half of the total vote came from people who voted early in person or handed in mail-in ballots.
These categories accounted for almost 90% of the votes in the 2020 presidential election.
Counties to watch are Clark (anchored by Las Vegas) and Washoe (which includes Reno). If the margin is large in Clark and the winning candidate also wins Washoe, it becomes difficult for the trailing candidate to garner enough votes to catch up to the leader, even if they do well in the remaining rural counties.
In a tweet Saturday, Laxalt acknowledged that Cortez Masto was performing better than expected Republicans in Clark County polls counted over the past few days.
Here’s how the voting went, starting with the most recent information:
SATURDAY NOV. 12
—CLARK: Officials released tallies for a batch of some 23,000 votes Saturday night, which Cortez Masto won 61% to Laxalt’s 36%. The lot put her ahead by about 5,000 votes.
—Washoe County is expected to release updated counts later Saturday.
FRIDAY NOV. 11
—CLARK: The county has about 27,000 votes, with more than 63% going to Cortez Masto versus 33% going to Laxalt. As of Friday, Laxalt’s lead narrows to more than 800 votes, compared to a statewide gap of more than 8,000 votes.
—WASHOE: Officials report nearly 11,000 votes were counted, with the senator carrying about 54% to 43% for Laxalt.
THURSDAY NOV. ten
—CLARK: About 12,000 votes were cast on Thursday, or about 62% to 35% for Cortez Masto. Laxalt’s overall statewide lead at this point is about 8,000 votes.
—WASHOE: Nearly 40,000 votes are counted Thursday in Washoe. They overwhelmingly opt for Cortez Masto, 61% versus 36%.
WEDNESDAY NOV. 9
—CLARK: Officials count some 600,000 ballots, which narrowly tip for Cortez Masto. It wins about 52% against 46% for Laxalt. At the end of the day, his lead is over 19,000 votes.
—WASHOE: Of the 130,000 ballots counted, Laxalt is the choice of more than half of voters, while Cortez Masto carries 47 percent.
Mike Catalini can be reached at http://twitter.com/MikeCatalini
Read https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections for more on the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections. Follow AP’s coverage of the midterm elections in 2022 at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections
Mike Catalini, Associated Press