What to look for tonight

A handy guide for Election Night:

Remember 70 percent of the vote will be known very early in the evening. Although we don't yet know what Election Day turnout will be like -- I estimate about 300,000 people will vote, about two-thirds in Clark County -- we will know some thing pretty early.

----Clark: When the first early/mail results are posted (we hope, before 8 PM) of the 57 percent who have voted in the South, see if President Obama has more than a 60,000-vote lead. (Democrats have a 71,000-ballot edge.) If he does, Democrats will be very happy, I'd guess, because that would mean he his holding his base and holding his own with indies. (Trust me. I did the math.) If it drops to 50,000, that means Mitt Romney is either doing quite well with independents or Obama is bleeding from his base a bit (or both). If it gets down to 40,000, the race could get very interesting. If Washoe is close, Obama probably needs to win Clark by only 40,000 votes or a little more to win. In the Senate race, see how far behind the president Shelley Berkley is running. If she is about as far ahead of Dean Heller as Obama is ahead of Romney, she may just win. But if there is a significant drop-off, she will be looking for a private sector job for the first time in 14 years.

----Washoe: Just over half the registered voters cast ballots early or by mail, so we will know something in the other urban county, too. The race in early/mail voting essentially was a dead heat, so if either has a significant lead, that's trouble for the other side. Obama won here by 12 points in 2008. That won't happen again, but if he keeps it close, that's a death knell for Romney unless he has a remarkable showing in Clark and/or on Election Day. See how large a lead Heller, who has not run strongly in Washoe in the past, has over Berkley. If it's small, he could be in trouble.

----Rurals: Watch the margin here. Obama lost rural Nevada by 25,000 votes. The Romney folks hope to win by 40,000 this time, which is possible. The GOP had a lead of about half that in early voting, so let's see what those first numbers show. They really need to run up the score in rural Nevada against Obama and Berkley.