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The last bit of polling done before the 2010 mid term election showed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) either a few points behind or neck and neck with Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle (R).  The only polling firm to accurately call it for Harry Reid was the Mark Mellman Group.  They also accurately called the final results of the California and West Virginia Senate races that election cycle.  So how was it that Mellman was the only one to accurately call it for Harry Reid?  Here are a few points:

• Pollsters too often subscribe to the “likely voter” fallacy. They seek out likely voters by asking them questions about their past behavior, which should give some indication of whether they’ll actually vote.

But Mellman looks for the likely electorate. The distinction is important. As Mellman notes, there are “unlikely voters” who actually wind up voting. And “likely voters” who wind up not voting. Every election there is some percentage of both, and Mellman has clearly mastered the art and science of modeling the likely electorate. It seems that in the Reid race, unlikely Reid voters — Hispanics come to mind — actually voted, with the help of the Reid turnout operation and Angle’s immigration ads that were deeply offensive to these voters.

• The cell phone problem. By now, this one is fairly well known, but as Mellman said, “It is a real problem.” To begin with, federal law prohibits automated calls to cell phones. So any poll conducted that way can’t call any cell phones. “There’s a real difference between people we reach on land lines and people on cell phones. If you’re only calling land lines, you get a distorted picture.”

How distorted?

A Pew Research Center analysis showed that a quarter of all Americans can be reached only by cell phone. They tend to be younger, a demographic dominated by Democrats. Pew estimated the land-line bias gives Republicans 4 to 6 percentage points in polls.

• Hard-to-reach voters. People don’t pick up their phones. A truly random sample requires the pollster to be persistent and try and try again with the same voter. Otherwise, you don’t get a truly random sample; you get a random sample of easy-to-reach voters.

Again, this has a distorting effect. Mellman’s group will try people six or seven times. Many pollsters are not as persistent because it’s cheaper to just move along.

“In Nevada these factors all mattered and all mattered meaningfully,” Mellman said.

Mellman didn’t address Hispanic voters, but polling experts including Nate Silver have speculated they may have been undercounted in polls. - THe Las Vegas Sun, 11/7/10

The last round of public polling is coming around and latest polls show Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D) behind incumbent appointed Senator Dean Heller (R), ranging from 2 to 6 points, depending on which polls you trust.  Most of these polls have Heller's lead in the margin of error of course so it's still close but a lot of people are probably putting their money on Heller to win.  If I was in Vegas right now, I'd actually put money of Berkley because Mark Mellman's latest poll shows Berkley ahead 41 to 38:

I'm not surprised the Shelley Berkley campaign folks decided to release their internals with the "newspaper" (Sen. Dean Heller plus 6) and Rasmussen Reports (Heller plus 7) polls released today.

Neither of those surveys has been close to accurate in Nevada -- although perhaps 2012 will be the exception -- and Mellman nailed the 2010 race. He has Berkley, for whom he is working, up 3. They wouldn't show me the poll, but I have linked his memo, which derides other polling, here.

Heller may yet win -- I have always thought he was a slight favorite -- but the registration surge by the Democrats has to worry him. All about turnout now and Mellman's models are as good as they get in Nevada. - Ralston Reports, 10/18/12

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Now I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Well that's great to hear but it's foolish to put all your chips on one number" and normally I would I agree with you.  A smart gambler covers his bets.  But some times you just have to take wild chances and I am putting all my chips on Berkley to win.  Ralston talks about the Democratic registration advantage.  Here's a little more insight:

Ralston broke the news just moments ago. Nevada Democrats almost hit the magic 90,000 mark in raw vote lead today... And the count is not over quite yet!

Here's where we stand now:

- Statewide, the exact Democratic registration lead is 89,605, or 7.15%. In last Friday's statewide report, it stood at 6.93%.

- In Washoe County (Reno-Sparks Metro), Republicans have gone from a 0.68% (or 1,620 raw vote) edge to a mere 0.005% barely there edge (!!!), or 1,172 raw votes.

- And as noted yesterday, Democrats are nearing a very healthy 15% registration advantage in Clark County (Metro Las Vegas).

So it's virtually guaranteed that Nevada Democrats will finish with a voter registration advantage of over 7% and 90,000 raw votes. To further put things into perspective, Nevada Democrats had about 100,000 more voters than Republicans at the end of registration in 2008, and about 60,000 more voters at the end of registration in 2010. Now, it's all about the ground game. - Nevada Progressive, 10/16/12

And Ralston also took notice of the early voting numbers:
Democrats also decisively defeated Republicans in first round of absentee ballots, usually a GOP strength, posted in Clark County: 8,976-7,448, or 46-38. So raw number in Clark so far: Dems, 27,364-17,036. That's 52-32, or 5 points above the registration edge.

So: After one day -- remember it's only one day! -- using absentees and early votes in Clark and early votes in Washoe (don't have absentees yet), the Democrats have an 11,000-vote lead statewide. Let's see where we go from here.

The early-vote numbers show a 26 percent edge in Clark County and 10 percent in Washoe County. That's about a 10,000-vote lead in Washoe and Clark combined.

The Clark numbers: 55-29, or 18,388-9,588 (Actual registration: 46-31)

The Washoe numbers: 48-38, or 4,604-3,619 (Actual registration: 38-38)

Yes, it's only one day. But if it continues like this, Nov. 6 is going to be a very bleak day for Republicans in this state. - Ralston Reports, 10/20/12

The majority of Latino voters vote Democratic due to the Democratic Party's views towards immigration reform and because the Republican party has taken this enraged anti-immigration position that favors self-deportation, racial profiling policies like in state such as Arizona and South Carolina and also favor building a 40 foot electrical fence along the border.  I'm not kidding.  Take it away Herman Cain:

Yeah no wonder more Latinos vote Democrat and are planning to vote for Obama in November.  But if you've been following this particular race as close as I have, you'll understand why I both understand why the race is closer than in 2010 but why a Berkley win is highly possible.

First off, lets start with the Latino vote factor.  Obviously more Latinos prefer President Obama over Mitt Romney.  That's a no brainer.  It's also evident that more Latino voters are going to vote for Berkley but if you look at the numbers you see that Heller gets 30% of the Latino vote:  

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., whom Berkley is attempting to unseat, is doing much better than the top of the ticket among the state’s Hispanic voters.

In June, the poll showed Berkley with 53 percent of the vote from Hispanics to Heller’s 30 percent. Berkley managed a more modest gain than the president from June to September, raising her support among Hispanic voters to 58 percent. - The Las Vegas Sun, 10/5/12

That has to be the highest number of Latino voters voting for any Republican candidate running for any office this year.  A lot of them had to hype up their street cred on who hates brown people more to woe the base in expensive primaries.  That's not the case here.  Heller was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2011 by GOP Governor Brian Sandoval to replace John Ensign (R. NV) who resigned over an embarrassing sex scandal between Ensign and an aides' wife and then using campaign cash to keep his aide quiet about the affair.  Heller didn't have to go through a primary where he had to expose his extreme views on immigration to impress xenophobic voters to help win a primary.  So there's not a lot of crazy statements on the record for Berkley to really hit Heller over the head with.  If that was the case then Berkley would be ahead in Mellman's polls by a slightly bigger number.  But since that's not the case, this gave Heller a shot to woe over enough Latino voters to help keep him in the lead and assure his victory.  Heller is the only Republican Senate candidate to spend a decent amount (and in many cases, ANY amount) of money on Spanish speaking ads:  
A report released this week by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce showed that in 10 states, including Nevada, just 4 percent of all campaign ad dollars went to Spanish-language media. In general, Democrats spend a greater percentage of their ad money on Spanish-language media than Republicans, but neither party’s expenditures on Spanish-language ads is proportional to the Hispanic portion of the electorate, 8 percent nationally.

Heller has bucked that trend. Heller has accounted for 55 percent of all Senate race ads on Nevada Spanish-language television. - Las Vegas Sun, 10/5/12

Berkley has been hitting back hard with her own Spanish speaking ads and attacking Heller's vote against the DREAM Act that is very popular in Nevada's Latino community:
Berkley said it's clear Heller doesn't care about the community, and she used his opposition to the DREAM Act to hammer her point home. She voted for the DREAM Act, and Heller voted against it.

"There's no excuse for it," Berkley said. "The reality is when he had a chance to vote for it, he choose not to."

Berkley said undocumented youth brought to the United States as children have lived here for years and now "are fearful that they may not be able to stay here and stay with their families."

In June, President Barack Obama erased that immediate fear by ordering his administration not to deport such young illegal immigrants and to offer two-year work permits so they can start earning a living as well. - Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/4/12

A new study Berkley touted concluded passage of the DREAM Act could create 20,000 jobs in Nevada and 1.4 million jobs nationwide. It was conducted by the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy group run by former Democratic members of the administrations of Obama and former President Bill Clinton. - Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/4/12
With no video sound bytes of Heller boasting his anti-immigration voting record in the House puts Heller in an advantage.  But there's still the dilemma for Heller because he has to keep the Tea Party/Minute Men voting wing of his party happy.  If they were smart enough to see through Heller's bull shit and realize that Deano doesn't hate brown people as much as they do, that's a deal breaker for them.  They'll gladly vote third party and allow Heller to lose than hold their nose and play ball.  They're that hateful and mean spirited that they'll help allow us to take this seat.  A part of you wants to thank these idiotic bigots because they're helping us usher in a new era of both Democratic politicians and common sense ideals that will put this country in the right direction but you feel disgusted with yourself because you also feeling like you're enabling these morons to expose America's darker and uglier side.  

Heller has been trying to keep his campaigning at Latino events on the down low so as not to offend his Tea Party/Minute Man based but also keep the small but essential Latino base happy.  But Latino voters are noticing how Heller has been trying to avoid a lot of press at these campaign events in the Latino community by both Berkley and prominent Latino voters:

Rep. Shelley Berkley on Thursday accused her Senate opponent, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, of having an "election year epiphany" in presenting himself as a moderate, including by reaching out to Hispanic voters despite what she calls an anti-immigrant record.

"He may talk the talk, but he doesn't walk the walk, and he never has," said Berkley, D-Nev., adding that Heller didn't start courting Hispanics until the Republican needed their votes this year. "All of a sudden, he discovered the Latino community." - Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/4/12

Latin Chamber of Commerce President Otto Merida has endorsed Berkley, saying he has known her for years as the seven-term congresswoman representing Southern Nevada, where most of the states's population and Latinos live.

Heller, a former congressman based in Northern Nevada, isn't well-known in the Hispanic community, Merida said.

"He's been missing in action," said Merida, who hasn't forgiven Heller for canceling a meeting with the Latin Chamber of Commerce last year at the last minute.

But Merida, a registered Republican, has endorsed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, although Romney and Heller share many of the same positions on the DREAM Act and immigration. - Las Vegas Journal-Review, 10/4/12

The majority of Nevada voters from both parties didn't want Sandoval to appoint someone.  They preferred holding a special election.  But Sandoval chose to ignore the voters and appoint then congressman Heller to the Senate.  Heller still had to run to be elected to a full term in 2012.  Despite Nevada voters being disappointed that their voices were not heard, it looked like Heller could succeed in holding this seat for the GOP and help them take control of the Senate.  I mean Nevada GOP voters did nominate Sharon Angle two years so you can understand why there's a big portion of them who were not thrilled with Heller.  Then Congresswoman Shelley Berkley got into the race and things got interesting.

Heller and the GOP know that Obama is going to win Nevada and they are worried that Obama's coat tails are long enough to hoist Berkley to victory.  It's very possible since Heller has been calling up Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers to fill the airwaves with false ads claiming Berkley is the one who's wrong on medicare and Social Security, even though Berkley's voting record proves quite the contrary.  Lets not forget that Heller voted twice for the Paul Ryan budget which ends medicare as we know it.  

The one person who really wants to defeat Berkley more than Heller is Heller's number one sugar daddy and Berkley's ex-boss, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson:

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Heller, with a war chest of $6.5 million, lists as his top donor the Las Vegas Sands company, owned by Adelson. Other donors include Jewish casino owner Steve Wynn and the Koch brothers. - The Jewish Daily Forward, 9/13/12
Adelson has a personal vendetta against Berkley due to their past working experience and their opposing views on unions:
Adelson and Berkley share a troubled history. She used to work for the casino magnate as vice president of legal and government affairs, until the two had a public falling-out over Adelson’s views on unions.

Adelson fired Berkley and has since supported her rivals in all her congressional races. With Adelson’s millions and his willingness to dig in deep this election cycle, he could still donate millions of dollars to Super PACs trying to defeat Berkley. - The Jewish Daily Forward, 9/13/12

Surprise, surprise guess which candidate Nevada unions support:
Berkley, experts say, enjoys Nevada’s strong Democratic organization, which is already leading in registering voters, as well as union support that can help her secure votes. Her southern Nevada orientation is also seen as an advantage compared with Heller, who is less known in the state’s most populated region. - The Jewish Daily Forward, 9/13/12
Adelson is afraid to have another union-supporter in the U.S. Senate so his golden boy, Heller, is his only hope.  But according to political experts in Nevada, Adelson's money may not be enough to secure Heller's victory:
But local experts doubt that will happen. “Sheldon Adelson is not a kingmaker in Nevada politics,” said Eric Herzik, chair of the department of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno. “He has a lot of money, and he is interested in politics — but not in grassroots, in state of Nevada politics.” - The Jewish Daily Forward, 9/13/12
The Nevada Progressive points out that the GOP's ground game is not ready for the Democrats' ground game:

Remember what we've been discussing all this summer? Yes, indeed, field matters. While Nevada Republicans have been very bust fighting each other, Nevada Democrats have been busy working the field. With all the voter registration, door to door canvassing, and volunteer to voter phone banking Nevada Democrats have been doing, there shouldn't be any wondering why they're gaining a key advantage. - Nevada Progressive, 9/17/12
Despite what the latest YouGov, Suffolks and Rasmussen polls say, news outlets from NPR to Fox News all agree that this race is close and could go either way:

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Berkley, 61, has made this race one of the tightest in the country — even while facing a House ethics probe.

Berkley is being investigated for her efforts to save southern Nevada's only kidney transplant program — just the sort of thing a member of Congress would do for her district. But it turns out that Berkley's husband is a kidney specialist whose business profits from the program.

"I did absolutely nothing other than what is important to the people that I represent, making sure that they get the best possible health care in this country and in this state," Berkley said this week, during the third and final debate with Heller.

Heller worked with Berkley to save the kidney transplant program, but said he didn't know at the time that Berkley's husband was a kidney doctor.

"I think the Heller campaign thought they'd put her away by now," says University of Nevada, Las Vegas political science professor David Damore. "The fact that she's been able to survive this and still be within the margin of error in most of the polling I think tells you that either voters have a really low level of expectation for their politicians, or that she's done a pretty good job of spinning the story."

Berkley also has the numbers on her side. Democrats now have about an 8-point registration advantage over Republicans in the state, which is why Heller has been pitching hard to independents, who make up nearly 18 percent of Nevada voters. - NPR, 10/18/12

Fox News:

Republicans may have reason to be concerned about election day turnout. Democrats have led a massive effort in the state to increase their voter registration roles. Clark County, the county in which Las Vegas sits and that contains more than half the state’s population, has seen a recent increase in the number of registered Democrats. When voter registration in Nevada closed earlier this month, Democrats held a nearly 130,000 voter advantage over Republicans.

“If all those vote for Shelley Berkley, that's a problem for him,” Ralston said. But he adds Berkley still needs a strong showing by President Obama to edge out Heller. “I think she needs Obama to win the state by more than 5 points to win the race.” - Fox News, 10/17/12

Like Fox News, NPR and local newspapers, I am taking Ralston and Mellman's research seriously.  Mellman's got it right with Reid while everyone else got it wrong and I am going to take their advice.  There are legitimate split ticket races in Arizona, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri and West Virginia but Nevada is not one of them.  Nevada has to and must be a down party ticket vote if we want the House, Senate and White House.  We need to get out the vote big time on election day.  Help us keep control of the Senate, donate and volunteer for Berkley's campaign today:

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