Moulitsas: What the early vote tells us

Getty Images

Election Day may still be two weeks away, but the election has already begun, with more than 6 million votes cast by Tuesday morning. And thus far, the vast majority of the early data is coming up roses for Democrats. To be clear, no ballots have been counted as of yet, but trends can be discerned by the party affiliation of those returning ballots. 

In North Carolina, which features competitive presidential, gubernatorial and senatorial races, there has been a 40 percent drop-off from 2012 in early Republican absentee mail-in ballots, according to Insightus, a nonprofit focusing on political data analysis. The state Republican Party chairman urged GOP-dominated election boards to limit early access to the franchise — “none of us have any obligation in any shape, form or fashion to do anything to help the Democrats win this election,” he wrote. “Left unchecked, they would have early voting sites at every large gathering place for Democrats.” Thus, the vote has been temporarily suppressed in the 28 “rogue” counties, as Insightus puts it, that paid heed to GOP leadership; turnout in the other 72 counties is significantly higher. As a result, Democrats are running at 91 percent of their totals compared to 2012. 

{mosads}But even overt voter suppression can’t erase Democrats’ early-vote advantage. Public Policy Polling shows the early Tar Heel vote falling for Hillary Clinton by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent, compared to a modest 47 percent to 44 percent lead among all voters — this means unaffiliated early voters are choosing Clinton. And Republicans are running nearly 20 percent behind their 2012 turnout.

In Florida, Republicans held a 1.6 percent lead in returned ballots Saturday, compared to a 5.3 percent lead at this point four years ago, when President Obama narrowly won the state. According to the Clinton campaign, Latino participation in that early vote is up a mind-boggling 99 percent. And by the end of the first day of early in-person voting, that GOP advantage had been whittled down to 0.43

In California, the Latino early vote is up 45 percent compared to 2012, which could have an effect on a handful of key House races. More importantly, that Latino excitement, along with Florida’s, suggests that Latino turnout could radically reshape this year’s electoral map. 

For example, Democrats have a 44 percent to 31 percent lead in ballots returned in Arizona, compared to a narrow 38 percent to 35 lead at this point in 2012. While there is no publicly available evidence, a surge in Latino participation could certainly account for that dramatic increase, putting Arizona’s presidential and Senate contests in play. 

In Nevada, another Latino-heavy state, Democrats lead 47 percent to 34 percent after the first day of early in-person voting, more than double their statewide 6-point voter registration advantage. Democrats are even leading 45 percent to 37 percent in Reno’s Washoe County, where Republicans have a narrow voter registration edge.

In also Latino-heavy Colorado, Democrats led 43 percent to 30 percent in the early vote, compared to a 59 percent to 30 percent Republican advantage at this point in 2014, the first Colorado election with mail balloting. And in the new battleground state of Texas, voting in the state’s five largest, brownest and most heavily Democratic counties is up 57 percent compared to 2012. 

Trump has two — and only two — early voting bright spots, in Iowa and Ohio. Not coincidentally, these are his two best-polling Obama states. But after all the nonsense about lack of Democratic “excitement” for Clinton, it’s her supporters who are dominating the early vote in most battleground states. 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.

Tags Hillary Clinton
See all Hill.TV See all Video