Democrats build huge early vote lead in battleground Nevada

Story highlights

  • Democrats lead in Nevada early voting by 6 points -- and 13.7 points in the state's key county
  • The lead matches, and in some regions bests, President Obama's 2012 numbers

(CNN)Democrats have built what could be an insurmountable edge in Nevada at the end of early voting in the Western battleground state.

In key regions, the party is matching or outpacing the lead President Barack Obama had at this point in 2012 on his way to a nearly 7-percentage-point win of the state's six electoral votes.
    Clark County -- home of Las Vegas and more than two-thirds of Nevada's active registered voters -- saw its record for single-day early vote turnout shattered Friday when 57,174 people cast their ballots, according to data from the Nevada secretary of state's office that's based on the party registration of those who have voted.
    Overall, Democrats have built a lead of more than 72,000 votes there -- 13.7 points ahead of Republicans, and slightly larger than Obama's 2012 edge.
    It's no surprise Democrats are ahead there, but the gap is more than double what Republicans say they need it to be. A GOP official said Trump could afford to lose Clark County by 6 points and still carry the state.
    Democrats also cast more ballots in Washoe County -- Nevada's second biggest, the home of Reno, and historically a swing region that Republicans believed they would win in this election cycle.
    Statewide, Democrats have an edge of 46,000 votes, or 6 points. That's roughly the same as Obama's 48,000-vote lead after early voting in 2012 -- which grew when more Democrats than Republicans turned out on Election Day.
    Nevada could be 2016's best test of polls against early voting data. A CNN/ORC poll out this week found Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 49% to 43%.
    Democrats are bullish that burgeoning Latino turnout will help carry the state -- and also tip other battlegrounds like Florida, Colorado and potentially even Arizona in their favor. In Las Vegas, the Culinary Union Local 226 -- which represents housekeepers, cooks, dealers and more at casinos in town -- has also run its own ground game.
    Perhaps the biggest question now is whether those Latinos who cast their ballots early include significant shares of new or low-propensity voters. Nevada does not release breakdowns of the ethnicity of their voters.
    The state is also one of the nation's easiest to analyze for early voting trends. Nevada officials publish up-to-date early voting data daily -- and unlike swing states like North Carolina, the early voting laws haven't changed and the window has remained the same since 2012.
    Overall, 767,000 Nevadans have voted early -- more than half the state's active registered voters, and ahead of 2012's figure of 705,000 early votes -- when about 7 in 10 Nevada voters cast their ballots early.
    If 2012's turnout of 81% of Nevada's active registered voters holds in 2016, there could be around 400,000 more votes to be cast.
    Early vote data is based on party registration. There's no way to know yet whether Democrats necessarily voted for Clinton or Republicans necessarily voted for Trump.
    Polls show it's likely the vast majority supported their party's nominee, but official results won't come until Election Day.
    Still, with such a large share of the state having voted early, it will be difficult for Republicans to catch up on Election Day.
    Nevada is also the site of a crucial Senate race. Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto is battling GOP Rep. Joe Heck for the seat being vacated by the retiring Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.