As early voting breaks records across the US, political and campaign analysts are looking at stacks of voter data, looking for clues to key questions: Who is voting? And who is the winner?
On one level, the answer may be simple. Registered Democrats are significantly outperforming registered Republicans – 14 percentage points – in states reporting voter affiliation, according to an Associated Press analysis of the vote early.
But that doesn’t tell the full story. Many of the Americans’ choices do not match their party registration. Meanwhile, polls show Republicans have heeded President Donald Trump̵7;s unfounded warnings about voting by mail, and that a large number are planning to vote on Election Day. That means the early Democratic surge could give way to the Republican surge on Tuesday.
The picture is obscured even more by the unprecedented nature of how Americans vote. While Democrats yearn for signs that key parts of their coalition – young voters, black voters, new voters – have joined, the comparison with 2016 is difficult. .
Here’s a closer look at what we know – and don’t know yet – about early voters:
NUMBER OF EARLY VOTES
As of Friday afternoon, 86.8 million people had voted in the presidential election. That’s 63% of all voters in the 2016 race. Most electoral experts think the United States will see 150 million to 160 million votes cast by 2020, which means we could be more than half the way to vote. In one state, Texas, more votes were cast than in 2016.
Democrats have a big lead in early voting for GOP – 47% to 33% – according to AP data analysis from political data firm L2.
That doesn’t mean the Democrats will win. But it increases the pressure on Republicans to have a similar advantage – or higher – on Election Day.
NEW ELECTIONS SHOW
The big question about the number of voters to vote in all elections is: Which side will attract new voters? The data shows Democrats are getting there – but not necessarily as substantial as some of the large overall numbers might suggest.
According to the AP analysis, more than 1 out of 4 votes – 27% – are cast by new or irregular voters. These are voters who have never voted before or voted in less than half of the elections for which they were eligible. It sounds like a big number, but it’s not too big compared to previous years. The data firm Catalist of the Democrats found that, in 2016, about a quarter of voters had not voted in the previous presidential election.
However, the number is likely to increase, as new and infrequent voters tend to vote near or on Election Day. And even small increases in a tight battlefield can make a difference.
That increase seems to be good news for Democrats. Forty-three percent of new and irregular voters are registered Democrats, compared with a quarter who are Republicans. The remaining one-third are registered either either independently or with a small party – a group that tends to favor Democratic candidates.
Voters are concentrated in Sunbelt, especially in states like Florida, North Carolina and especially Texas that Democrats hope to win by mobilizing large numbers of voters to stand in most of the competition. dispatch.
“Democrats are expanding their constituencies,” said Tom Bonier of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart. “That certainly looks in Biden’s favor – made up with a warning we’ve heard a million times before, that we don’t know how many other voters will come out on Election Day.”
BLACK VOTERS HOLDING STEADY
Biden’s fate may be tied to a strong turnout of black voters in battle states. So far, about 9% of early voting has been taken by African Americans, on par with 10% of black voters taken in 2016, according to Pew Research’s estimates of the number of voters in the election. sent that.
Black voters are keeping a close eye on their constituencies in several battlefields. In North Carolina, they are 21% of all early voters and all registered voters. In Georgia, they account for 30% of early voting and 32% of registered voters.
A slight decline in the turnout of black voters compared to the rising numbers of 2008 and 2012 played a key role in the 2016 Democrats’ defeat, and the party and its supporters are following. Watch carefully to see what happens this time.
Data so far are ambiguous. There has been an increase in the votes of older African Americans. Black voters aged 65 and over were already one of the most trusted voting demographics, but according to TargetSmart data, they’ve surpassed their numbers on six key battlefields – Arizona, Florida , Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas.
At the same time, according to data from the International Service Employees Union, younger, less reliable Black voters account for a larger share of Black’s votes now than in 2016. That was a sign of more participation in the voter segment dropped out in 2016.
Organizers say Black voters are reeling from the pandemic and economic collapse that has hit African-Americans and the country’s racism hardest. That motivates them to overcome persistent obstacles to voting, said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the International Union of Service Employees.
“Black and brown communities have faced many of these crises,” said Henry. That undermined their determination to vote, she added.
SEIU union says 3 out of 4 black voters have not voted in Pennsylvania. The coalition is shifting its resources to voter operations in Pennsylvania because they are concerned that Black voters are slower to return their ballots by mail.
DEMOCRATS HOPE FOR EXCELLENCE IN YOUNG ELECTIONS
As of Friday, the AP analysis found 11.3% of early voting was cast off by voters aged 18 to 29. This number is up slightly from this point in 2016, when 9, 6% of early voting was cast by people under the age of 30, according to TargetSmart.
And in the Sunbelt battlefields of Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, young voters are voting at a rate of 30% or more, according to AP data.
That is again a good sign for the Democratic Party, but a very preliminary one. Young voters lean toward Democrats and as Democrats flock to the polls, it’s no surprise that their numbers will be higher.
Young voters have emerged at an unprecedented level in 2018, with 36% of those eligible to participate, according to the US Census. That has helped the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives.
Young voter supporters concerned about the pandemic have caused the number of registered voters aged 18 and 19, who are just eligible to vote, plummeting.
However, young voters still make up a larger share of the total registered voters in most states compared with 2016, according to the Center for Citizen Learning and Information and Interaction Research at Tufts University. . That is a reflection of both the population growth and the increase in registration that led to 2018.
Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who runs ElectProject.org and carefully monitors the early voting, warns not to draw too many conclusions from the youth voting changes since 2016. He said. “Everything is fine. That’s what happens when you have a high ballot election ”.
HIGH TURNOUT HIGHLIGHTS OUTCOME?
The expected record number of voters would not matter much in battle states, Republicans said.
When all the votes are checked, the Trump campaign predicts that the turnout rate in battlefield states in 2020 will be similar to 2016.
“It’s predictable what they’ve brought to the constituency,” said Nick Trainer, chief strategy officer of the Trump campaign. “We will bring our new voters into the constituency ourselves, and all will show up in the washing machine.”
It was a drastic breakout from a handful of electoral experts, who noticed signs in both early voting and polls of voter enthusiasm on the battlefields.
John Couvillon, a Republican pollster who watches the early voting, says Trump’s campaign is too monotonous. “I heard a similar attitude in 2008, when Republicans denied the impressive early turnout rate that Obama created,” Couvillon said.
McDonald notes that there is no way to know until Election Day.
However, he noted that, if the voter turnout is low, it is not necessarily good news for Trump to take the lead in the early voting that Democrats have favored. That means the presidential campaign will need to win Election Day by a larger margin.
“They’d better hope they were wrong,” said McDonald.