Republicans tout absentee ballot lead, but it's more hype than substance

Darren Littel, an RNC operative helping lead the GOP effort here, tweeted this on Thursday: "In #NV absentee ballots GOP outperforming reg numbers by 7%, Dems under performing by 2 points"

Wow. That sounds huge.

But, as always, context is called for.

Republicans nearly always beat Democrats in absentee ballots -- they did by a few points two and four years ago. And mail ballots are a small percentage of the overall vote.

Republicans can't match the Democratic ground game (unions, etc.), so absentees are one way to try to mitigate the damage. But  by how much?

Here are some facts:

----Democrats actually lead Republicans in ballot requests, and they have built up that huge lead in voter registration (if you count inactive voters, where Democrats have a 2-to-1 lead, it's even bigger than '08 statewide--and a signficant number of those will vote).

----More Democrats have requested ballots than Republicans – a sharp turnaround compared with 2008.  26,363 Democrats have requested ballots compared with 25,443 Republicans.  This means Democrats have an advantage of D +920.  But at this point in 2008, Republicans had an advantage of R +8,774.  Democrats have gained a net D +9,694 compared with 2008, when Obama won the state by 12.4 percentage points. If Democrats can do a decent job of chasing those requests, well....

----Democrats have gained on Republicans in ballots returned.  At this point in 2008, Republicans led by 2,274 in ballots returned.  Thus, Democrats have cut the margin by 42 percent in 2012.