24.4 million people have already voted for the next president of the United States. Many political analysts claim that you cannot put too much stock in early voting results as a predictor of the general election, because the population segments which vote early are fundamentally different from those who show up on Election Day.
However, we can extract some broad conclusions from the early voting data, which can identify trends which may be in play on Election Day.
Early voting data supports the poll data that North Carolina is breaking for Hillary Clinton. North Carolina is considered by many to be the most important state in the election as its outcome could decide the Senate and the presidency.
Early voting also supports a lead for Donald Trump in the battleground state of Florida. These patterns are consistent with recent national polling data.
The early voting data from key battleground states including North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida reflect a decline in African-American early voting. Bear in mind that a certain percentage of decline was anticipated as it was not possible to replicate the voter enthusiasm which we witnessed in both 2008 and 2012 when the first black presidential candidate Barack Obama was on the ballot.
In North Carolina, black turnout is down 16% over 2012. Interestingly, enough white turnout in the state is up 15%. In Florida, early black voting has dropped dramatically from 25% in 2012 to 15%.
Given that African-American voters have a statistical tendency to vote Democratic, the drop in numbers in not a good indicator for Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, Hispanic early turn out in Florida is up to 14% from 10% in 2012, which is a positive indicator for Clinton.
However, Florida is also looking good for Mr. Trump in that more Republicans have registered early than Democrats. In addition, according to The Florida Board of Elections, three million unaffiliated voters have already cast their ballot. Thirty-four percent of these unaffiliated voters did not vote at all in 2012. That could also be a positive indicator for Trump in that he is outperforming Clinton among independents.
Not surprisingly, we are also hearing a lot about the states where early or absentee voters may switch their vote if they have “buyer’s remorse.” Voters in Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have the option of changing their vote. While ordinarily, the ability to switch votes does not receive much attention, this year it is getting a lot of media attention in light of the combative nature of the campaign.
Donald Trump’s campaign has been aggressively promoting that early voters can switch their vote “if they feel duped” in the wake of Friday’s bombshell that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. State officials say that vote-switching is extremely rare.
However, according to The Wisconsin Elections Commission, more people have asked for information about vote-switching than in the past. Again, this could be a factor of the media hyping the concept that vote-switching is feasible. Given that this election has been so unusual, I wouldn’t be surprised if vote-switching stats have a slight uptick.
Forty percent of all votes are expected to be cast in advance of Election Day.
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