In the middle of explaining how formidable Harry Reid’s voter turnout operation looks in Nevada, James Hohmann of the Washington Post mentions something that applies even more so to California.
Many Republicans familiar with Nevada worry about this nightmare scenario: If Trump loses decisively along the Eastern seaboard—New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and/or Florida—the networks could declare that Clinton is the president-elect before polls even close in Nevada. Many core GOP voters typically cast their ballots while commuting home from work. What if a couple percent of them decide that the election is over and it’s not worth waiting in line? Because Republicans are so reliant on these voters, and Democrats will have so many votes locked in from early voting, it could lead to a down-ticket bloodbath. At the very least, it could tip a close Senate race to Cortez Masto.
The networks may not “formally” call the race before the polls close in Nevada, but anyone on the West Coast listening to the radio on the way home from work will be forgiven for thinking that their vote isn’t needed. That puts more of a damper on enthusiasm to divert to a polling place if you’re intent on voting for the loser.
Nevada, though, does have other competitive races that might entice a despondent Republican to show up regardless of the realization that Hillary Clinton will be our next president. In California, things are different. The state will go overwhelmingly for Clinton and the Senate race there is between two Democrats. If you’re a Republican, you have to go all the way down to your congressman to find a vote that might matter. This is going to be a GOTV problem for the Republicans regardless of what happens on the East Coast in the presidential contest. But, if Republicans are feeling glum because they’ll be getting a Clinton reprise, that’s just one more reason to skip the polls and go home and pet your dog.
I think with Trump, too, there’s an element of not wanting to dirty yourself by endorsing him unless you think it might actually matter. I think people know that the future will not be kind to those who voted for or visibly supported Trump, and who wants to look into their grandkids’ eyes and explain something like that?