Democrats lead in Clark after first week is 40,000 voters

UPDATED: SOS has updated statewide numbers. Democrats up 10 in early vote, GOP has slight edge in mail. 350,000-plus have voted, 28 percent of all active voters.

The Democrats slowed down a bit on Friday in Clark County, extending their lead by 4,000 ballots, the party's smallest daily lead since the second day of early voting.

But combining their current early-vote lead -- 37,932 -- with their absentee ballot edge -- 1,904 -- and their lead after the first week in the South is 39,836 voters over the GOP.

For those insisting on 2008 comparisons -- and I have said that is apples (wave) and oranges (struggle) -- a 40,000-voter lead for the Democrats after the first week is 5,000 fewer than four years ago. I can't believe the GOP will crow about that (actually, I would).

At the end of '08 early voting, the Democrats got to an 83,000-voter lead (21 percentage points), and Barack Obama ended up winning Clark County by 19 points. If the pattern holds this year -- the Democrats had a 38,000-voter lead in the second week four years ago -- the lead should get to about 70,000 this year. If it doesn't, that may be a danger sign for the Democrats.

The percentage lead is surely going to be smaller unless the Democrats change the pattern of second weeks, which is when the GOP gets closer. It is 49-33 now -- just slightly above the 46-31 registration lead -- so it may shrink to close to 10 or so by next Friday.

Remember, the Republicans always have a turnout advantage, so that will not be that surprising. But the bigger it gets, the more they can use their expected Election Day edge (assuming there are any voters left!--nearly 30 percent of voters already have cast ballots in Clark County) to cut into the margin.

In Washoe, the Democrats won Friday by 21 votes. The count now is:  22,442, D; 21,402, R; 8,745, others. Absentees have not been updated, but the GOP had a 300-vote lead there.

It seems clear that the president will not win the swing county by double digits this year (unless he is blowing out Romney among independents, which is unlikely), as he did in '08.  But if he is holding his own among indies, Obama will still win the state if the Clark firewall holds. Watch the second week in the Biggest Little City -- it could tell us a lot.

Bottom line from these Clark numbers: The state still leans Obama, but I wouldn't put it in the bank just yet, if I were the Democrats. Let's see what happens this weekend and during the next five days.

Premium subscribers will receive more analysis of these first week's numbers later today, including plugging some actual numbers into recently completed polling, looking at down-ticket races and some extrapolation of what's to come.