Nicole Skarlatos/Nevada Sagebrush

Nicole Skarlatos/Nevada Sagebrush

It wouldn’t be Election Day without the customary slew of individuals and news organizations, both national and international, using various methods to try to predict the outcome of the presidential race.

In China, the Shiyanhu Ecological Tourism Park had its most prized monkey pick the presidential candidate by having him chose between cardboard cutouts of both.  In previous election years, people have used the winner of Game 7 of the World Series to predict which candidate will win the election.

Bellwether states are one method of predicting the outcome of the election. A bellwether state is a state that can be used as a tool to predict the results of the election based on state demographics, voter registration and history that often mimics national trends. It is a state that has, throughout history, given its electoral votes to the nominee who goes on to win the presidential election.

Nevada is one of the more reliable bellwether states and has chosen the winner of the presidential election 26 of 30 elections since it became a state. Since 1912, Nevada has only failed to choose one election winner. In the presidential election of 1976, the state voted for Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.

“Does Nevada matter? Yes,” Jim Denton, Nevada political consultant, told the Reno-Gazette Journal. “Does Washoe matter? Absolutely. Washoe County will be crucial in who wins this election. This state has become really a diverse picture of what this country is. In particular, in Washoe County. It will make the difference in this election.”

According to National Public Radio, Washoe County, a bellwether county within Nevada, has voted for the statewide winner in every presidential election since 2000. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have dedicated crucial time to heavily campaigning in the county during the last two weeks leading up to Election Day. Clinton and Trump, tied in the polls in Nevada, both made campaign stops last week in Reno. Trump made a stop in Reno on Saturday for one last rally to push voters to the polls. Clinton surrogate and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallied voters alongside Democratic nominee for Nevada Senate Catherine Cortez Masto last Wednesday.

NPR categorized Washoe County as a toss-up. In Nevada, Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and Henderson, has historically driven up the numbers for the Democratic candidate. In 2012, three in four votes for President Barack Obama came from Clark County. Historically, the rural parts of Nevada that include Churchill County, Lyon County and Lander County have voted for the Republican nominee. With Clark and the rural Nevada counties both on opposite sides, that leaves Washoe County’s 263,554 registered voters to decide how the state will vote.

Washoe County has 98,146 registered Republicans, a number just above the 94,614 registered Democrats, leaving 51,905 nonpartisan voters in the bellwether county.

“It will decide the Senate race and it will decide the presidential race,” Greg Ferraro, a political consultant, told the RGJ. “And the reason why is because you have an almost equal number of Republicans and Democrats and a slightly smaller but growing nonpartisan segment. Who wins those nonpartisans is really important in Washoe.”

Washoe County is the county to watch Tuesday night for news stations, surrogates, candidates and voters as the bellwether county may be the deciding factor in who will become the next president of the United States.

Rachel Spacek can be reached at and on Twitter @TheSagebrush