Registered Democrats have so far run a sizable lead in early voting and, while that doesn’t say anything about the outcome of the election, it certainly is an indication of Democratic voter enthusiasm. In fact, that enthusiasm has materialized at the polls in some very important swing states.
An analysis from Hawkfish, a Michael Bloomberg-funded group, showed the vote margins in the following states favoring Democrats, according to Politico:
- Arizona: 16 points
- Michigan: 24 points
- North Carolina: 14 points
- Pennsylvania: 46 points
- Wisconsin: 22 points
Again, those votes may simply be cannibalizing votes that otherwise would have been cast on Election Day, but they are also votes Democrats no longer have to go after.
Perhaps the biggest early voting story of the week is the fact that early votes in some states have already outpaced the total number of early votes cast in 2016, including the ginormous state of Texas. The Washington Post has a great interactive map tracking the statewide totals, and here’s where the above battlegrounds stand:
- Arizona: 71%
- Michigan: 140%
- North Carolina: 79%
- Pennsylvania: —
- Wisconsin: 153%
But the stories of what those numbers may mean vary from state to state. Here’s few takeaways on the week.
Arizona: Democrats outpacing Republicans in early voting in the Copper State is apparently an “historic shift,” according to the Arizona Republic.
Ballots returned during the first week of early voting in Arizona surged nearly 100% in the state’s three most-populous counties compared to 2018, with trends appearing to favor Democratic candidates, data obtained by The Arizona Republic shows. …
In Maricopa County, ballots processed by the Recorder’s Office increased 116% in the first week of early voting compared with 2018 and 96% compared with 2016. Processed ballots have been returned and verified to have come from the right voter. The second week of ballot processing shows similar increases, according to the Recorder’s Office
Michigan: In a state that has already blown past its 2016 early vote totals, “Michigan’s most Democratic counties are among those that have returned the most absentee ballots so far.” According to the nonprofit news site Bridge Michigan, “60 percent of the ballots returned through Monday came from eight counties that Clinton won in 2016, nearly 900,000 of the 1.5 million ballots.”
And what’s even more interesting than that is the fact that Republicans reportedly used to have a robust mail-in voting program before Donald Trump spent the last six months trashing early voting. The Bridge writes:
The GOP has traditionally had an “extraordinary” mail-in voting program in Michigan for decades, [said Richard Czuba, founder of the polling firm Glengariff Group]. Senior citizens are more likely to vote Republican, and the party had a robust “chase program” to ensure those voters mailed in their ballots.
However, Trump has consistently derided mail-in voting throughout the election season, saying without proof that they will contribute to widespread voter fraud. That makes it harder for the Republican Party to leverage their existing operation to take advantage of the expanded rights.
“It’s a huge missed opportunity,” said Dennis Darnoi, a GOP political consultant who also tracks absentee ballots closely and is seeing similar trends. “From the Republican standpoint, it’s a shame because they do have a robust AVB program here in the state and to leave it on the sideline in this race, especially when he needs to win this state, I think was a serious miscalculation.”
Wisconsin: The big story in Wisconsin is simply the epic surge. The state only began early in-person voting on Tuesday of this week, and yet between in-person voting and mail-in balloting, the Badger state has already accounted for 153% of the early votes cast in 2016.
Both Wisconsin and Arizona mailed absentee ballot applications to every registered voter for the first time this year, according to the Washington Post.
Overall, these huge voting early voting numbers still say little about who will emerge victorious in this race, but it’s this is certainly an extraordinary election year. And in many of these battleground states, it appears Republicans will have a lot of ground to make up on Election Day.
“Republicans are putting all their marbles on Election Day right now,” said Czuba of the Michigan polling firm Glengariff Group.