The Nevada Senate race by the numbers
There are some interesting numbers in the Nevada exit polls. Democrats were able to keep a turnout advantage of 35% compared to 33% Republican and 32% independent. However the GOP did make some gains over 2008 when the turnout was 38% D, 30% R, and 32% I. Republicans increased 3% at the cost of the Democrats while independents remained steady. The difference for the Dems was probably the black vote which went from 10% of the voters in 2008 down to 6% in 2010. Latinos held steady at 15% so that whites (and others) picked up the gain. The gender turnout was even at 50% each, a changed from 2008 when women made up 52%.
Reid maintained more of his base, capturing 91% of Dems while Angle was able to pull only 5%. Unfortunately Angle lost 11% of the GOP to Reid and captured only 85% of Republican voters. She did get a plurality of independents at 48% compared to Reids 44%. It was not enough to overcome the Democratic turnout advantage and the GOP crossovers. The numbers are very similar to the Presidential election results. Obama kept 93% of Democrats and pulled 11% of Republicans. However the independents broke for Obama 54% to 41% for McCain. Angle actually did better then McCain among independents but not enough to win.
Compare these results to the Governors race. For the two major parties, the numbers are nearly flipped. Sandevol (R) pulled 11% of Dems while keeping 93% of Reps. Even more significantly, he devastated the younger Reid among independents by a margin of 60% to 32%.
As for Latinos, Obama won them over by a margin of 76% to 22% for McCain. Despite her tougher line on illegal immigration, Angle increased the draw of Latinos to 30% while only 68% went for the pandering Reid. Sandoval did a little better but not by much, gaining 33% compared to the younger Reid’s 64%. Remember that there was no significant change in Latino turnout between 2008 and 2010.
The bottom line from all of this is that the GOP improved turnout but not enough to overcome a Democratic advantage. Sandoval demonstrates that it takes a coalition of Republicans and independents to win in Nevada. There are certainly a strong number of independents (60%) willing to vote GOP under the right conditions. Angle pulled independents better then the supposedly more moderate and establishment candidate McCain, but in the end she came up short.