Nevada Senate Race: Laxalt’s lead over Cortez Masto shrinks after last vote count update

Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt’s lead over incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., has shrunk to less than 9,000 votes as officials in the state’s largest counties still count mail-in ballots.

The latest updates from Clark and Washoe counties have given Laxalt just 8,988 votes over Cortez Masto, less than 1% of the total vote. Election officials said Wednesday ballot counting will continue through next week, but the majority of ballots could be counted by today.

Officials explained mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day but cannot arrive until Saturday to be counted. Election officials have been inundated with thousands of them since Tuesday as margins between Cortez Masto and Laxalt remain tight.

More than 12,000 Clark County ballots were counted Thursday night, which helped Cortez Masto win 3,285 votes for Laxalt. The city of Las Vegas is in the county, and Democrats there have a nearly 10-point advantage over Republicans in voter registration. The Republican challenger’s lead grew by about 1,000 votes as ballots from surrounding rural counties were tallied, but the gain was not enough to offset the Democratic senator’s mail-in votes.

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Ballots will be processed by bipartisan polling officials from the Clark County Election Department during the ongoing election process on November 10, 2022 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ballots will be processed by bipartisan polling officials from the Clark County Election Department during the ongoing election process on November 10, 2022 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Washoe County, the state’s second-most populous county, counted more than 18,000 ballots overnight Thursday, giving Cortez Masto a net win of 4,817 votes against Laxalt. Democrats have strong support in Reno and Sparks, but the rest of the county leans toward Republicans, making it competitive.

Officials in Clark County, Nevada’s most populous county, have said Tuesday, Nov. 15, is the deadline for reviewing mail-in ballots, while Nov. 17 is the latest date they will release the final results.

As the race stands, Laxalt currently has 450,534 votes (48.97%) to become the next Nevada Senator, while Cortez Masto holds 441,546 votes (48%) for re-election with 90.2% of the reported votes.

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Republican Senate candidate from Nevada Adam Laxalt speaks at a Republican midterm election night party at the Red Rock Casino on November 8, 2022 in Las Vegas.

Republican Senate candidate from Nevada Adam Laxalt speaks at a Republican midterm election night party at the Red Rock Casino on November 8, 2022 in Las Vegas.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Nevada’s race for governor is also tight. Republican Joe Lombardo currently has a 28,543 vote lead over incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak (49.7% versus 46.6% respectively). There seems to be a lot of split-ticket voters, as Lombardo has more support in the gubernatorial race than Laxalt in the Senate race, while Cortez Masto received more votes in her re-election for the Senate than Sisolak for governor.

Nevada does not have an automatic recount law. If the races remain closed, the eventual loser must request a recount no later than three working days after the vote. The candidate requesting a recount must pay the associated costs unless the recount changes the election result in his or her favour. In this case, the applicant will be reimbursed for all costs paid in accordance with state law.

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U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto speaks at an election night party hosted by Nevada Democratic Victory on November 8, 2022 at The Encore in Las Vegas.

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto speaks at an election night party hosted by Nevada Democratic Victory on November 8, 2022 at The Encore in Las Vegas.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

If Cortez Masto continues to win but Sisolak loses, the election would likely be a referendum on the governor’s deeply unpopular decision to shut down Nevada casinos during the pandemic. Sisolak’s COVID-19 policies sent Nevada unemployment skyrocketing to over 28% — the highest unemployment rate recorded in any state since the Great Depression. His subsequent orders for mask requirements and school closures were also unpopular with residents of the state.

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Still, the fact that the gubernatorial and Senate elections are so closely spaced has disappointed Republicans, and the GOP’s lackluster turnout helped Democrats hold three U.S. House seats that Republicans had hoped for.

Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.

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