News outlets have called Nevada for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, beating Donald Trump in the state thanks largely to her ability to mobilize Latinos and encourage early voting.
Clinton wins only six electoral votes by picking up Nevada. But symbolically, it’s a big victory. Nevada is a perfect illustration of the breed of new swing states that have become competitive thanks to demographic changes. (In addition to a growing Latino population, it’s a relatively young state.) The rural north of the state is fairly white and Republican; Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, is heavily Latino and very heavily Democratic.
That means that, for the past several electoral cycles, which party takes the state has come down to whether Democrats could mobilize the relatively low-propensity “Obama coalition” (black, Latino, and young voters) to make it to the polls — or whether they’d be outvoted by the older, more reliable Republican voters. Clinton’s victory demonstrates that the Democratic Party will be able to keep turning out the “Obama coalition” after Obama is no longer at the top of the ticket, and suggests that, barring a demographic realignment, Republicans are only going to have more and more trouble winning presidential elections.
In pre-election polls, Nevada looked like a toss-up. Trump surged in the state in the final days of the election, leading in several polls in the last week.
But while Trump was collecting poll respondents, Clinton was collecting early votes.
As many as two-thirds of all Nevada voters voted early in 2016, and many of them voted for Democrats. By the end of early voting, Democrats had a 65,000- to 70,000-vote advantage in Clark County — thanks in part to a last-minute push that led Nevada officials to keep voting open at a Mexican supermarket in Las Vegas so hundreds of would-be voters could make it through a two-hour line.
Republicans actually had a slightly higher turnout rate than Democrats did in the first days of early voting, but not enough to counteract their natural disadvantage in party registration and the last-minute surge. It simply wasn’t enough for Donald Trump to overcome.