The number of early votes cast is quickly approaching 15 million, and most are in key battleground states, with clear signs that it is for the most part good news for Hillary Clinton.
There has been strong early voting turnout by voters that are likely to support Clinton, including, among others, registered Democrats, minorities, and young people.
Based on the substantial get out the vote advantage that the Democratic nominee enjoys over her rival, alone, it would be safe to assume that she will accumulate a significant advantage in early voting. After all, not only has Clinton long had an early voting operation plan, but Democrats have had a historical advantage in this area. President Obama won the last election on strong early voting performance. Most importantly, the former Secretary of State has a top notch ground game while Trump’s ground game is virtually nonexistent.
Most concerning for Trump is the picture that is being painted in Florida and North Carolina, both of which are considered ‘checkmate’ states, because if the Republican loses either of these states, he has no path to the White House.
Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona are also checkmate states, and all are looking good for Clinton based on what we know about early voters. However, it is important to note that Arizona remains a longshot based on its demographics and historical ruby red tendencies. At the same time, there is more than early voting signs that give Clinton an advantage. The polls favor her, and are confirmed by the fact that Sheriff Joe Arpaio — Trump’s most high profile Arizona supporter — is significantly behind in his 7th re-election bid.
Even reliably Republican Utah and Texas have good news for Clinton, but again, those are still longshots for the Democratic nominee. It is important to note that as the map stands today, while all of these states are must-wins for Trump, Clinton can win the presidency by only winning one of these states — Colorado — where she has a significant lead.
In North Carolina, Democrats are now leading Republican voters 46 percent to 29 percent. While it is safe to assume that voters will vote along party lines, Trump has much softer support among Republicans that Clinton has among Democrats. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Clinton’s lead is even larger.
In-person voting in North Carolina is still behind the pace in 2012, but that appears to be for two reasons unrelated to enthusiasm. Many of the Democratic leaning counties reduced the number of polling places in the first week. Several are adding more stations this week. Also, there may be some suppression from voters who are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
In Florida, more than 2 million votes have been mailed in, and in-person voting began on Monday. Democrats and Republicans are virtually even with each making up 41 percent of the vote. That proportion is far superior to President Obama’s performance in 2012 when he won the state. Again, based on the substantial advantage that Clinton holds in getting out the early vote and Trump’s softer support within his party, this spells a clear advantage for the Democratic nominee.
“If current early vote trends hold, it’s a real possibility that Clinton can sweep a majority of swing states including Florida,” said Scott Tranter, co-founder of the Republican data analytics firm Optimus in an interview with the AP.
In Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado, are all crucial for a Trump victory. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by a margin of 46 percent to 35. Also, ballots from older white voters are significantly lower, while those from Hispanics and Asian-Americans are up.
President Obama won Nevada in 2012 by six points. Early voting accounted for more than 70 percent of the total votes cast.
In Arizona, which has voted for a Democratic candidate only once since 1948, Democrats and Republicans are about even — 36 percent to 37 — and more than 600,000 votes have been cast. Another 25 percent of the voters were independent or had no party affiliation. At this point, Democrats are far outperforming 2012, and significantly, ballots from younger adults and Latinos are higher than four years ago.
In Colorado, Dems lead Republicans 40 percent to 34 with over 400,000 ballots returned. In 2012, Democrats trailed Republicans at this point by 10 points.
In Utah, overall ballots are topping 2012. Republicans are basically neck and neck with Independents at 38.6 percent to 38.5. This is a sign that Evan McMullin is heavily drawing from Republicans based on their distaste for Trump. Democrats are far behind at 19.4 percent of the ballots. However, the 2012 numbers at this point confirm that McMullin is getting significant support. In 2012, Republicans held a 58 percent to 13 percent advantage at this point.
In Texas, almost 1 million ballots have been cast, that is a 46 percent increase from 2012. While the state has not provided breakdowns, higher turnout, especially among Latinos, certainly tilts the early race toward Clinton.