For those who rely on the legacy media for election news, it would be easy to conclude that early voters have already doomed President Trump’s chances of reelection. CNN analyst Harry Enten, for example, advises us that the current high volume of mail-in ballots confirms national polls showing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a comfortable lead over Trump. Likewise, Slate tells its readers, “The Early Voting Revolution Is Already Helping Joe Biden.” But we have seen such headlines before. Just prior to Election Day 2016, Politico ran a story titled, “Record-breaking early voting fuels Democratic optimism.” That optimism turned out to be hopelessly delusional, as will this year’s premature exhilaration.
The reason early Democratic voters rarely live up to such great expectations is that they usually aren’t newly registered voters. They tend to be long-time Democrats whose votes are being cannibalized from ballots they would have cast on Election Day. Yet their early votes are frequently touted by the media as evidence of great enthusiasm and high potential turnout. Almost always, however, Republicans show up at the polls in much larger numbers on Election Day and defeat overconfident candidates like Hillary Clinton. There is some evidence in crucial 2020 battleground states that this is the fate that awaits Joe Biden. In Florida, for example, the Democrats placed enormous emphasis on early voting.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, however, the Democrats are struggling to maintain their early voting lead in the Sunshine State. The GOP in-person total stood at 1,470,989, far ahead of the Democratic in-person total of 1,044,148, despite the closure of polling places in the state’s heavily Republican panhandle pursuant to Hurricane Zeta. Total Republican early votes stood at 2,787,723 as of October 29, just over 200,000 behind the Democratic total of 2,992,000. The Democrats cling to that thin lead by virtue of mail-in ballots. A lead that small will never survive a robust Election Day turnout by the Republicans. Democratic stronghold Miami-Dade County may be the canary in the coal mine:
While statewide turnout has been impressive, turnout in Miami-Dade County — among Democrats in particular — has been lagging somewhat.… In Miami-Dade, where mail ballots went out on the last possible day, the turnout was less than 46% of registered voters Tuesday, state data shows. That includes 52% of Republicans, 47% of Democrats and 37% of independents.… Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will need a substantial margin of victory in Miami-Dade to ultimately win Florida and potentially sink President Trump’s chances at reelection.
Florida is hardly the only state in which the early vote should worry Biden and the Democrats. In North Carolina, as in Florida, the Democrats pushed early voting. Yet, according to the U.S. Elections Project, their lead in overall early voting has been reduced from 12 percent last week to a little over 7 percent as of this writing. The Republican in-person total stood at 1,038,755, and the Democratic in-person vote came to 1,096,969. Total GOP early votes totaled 1,208,633 as of October 29, only 285,199 behind the Democratic total of 1,493,832. Ominously for the Biden campaign, this is less than the amount by which Clinton led Trump in the Tar Heel State just before Election Day 2016. Trump won the state by 3.8 percent.
Moving beyond Florida and North Carolina, both of which Trump won in 2016 and is likely to win again, the Democrats have an early voting problem in Nevada. President Trump lost the Silver State by 2 percent in 2016. Yet early voting suggests that he could flip it this time. Referring again to the U.S. Elections Project, total Republican early votes stood at 333,569 as of October 29, or 39,789 behind the Democratic total of 373,358. There are 566,000 registered Republicans in Nevada, so it’s obvious that a large GOP turnout on Election Day could easily overcome that gap. But this brings us to a different problem. Nevada’s governor is a Democrat, and it isn’t clear that the will of the voters is his primary concern.
Like many Democratic governors, Steve Sisolak continues to claim — without a whiff of credible scientific evidence — that the nation is in the midst of a deadly “second wave” of COVID-19 infections. Consequently, he and his state election officials are using the pandemic as a pretext to reduce the number of in-person polling places. This has long since begun in Clark County, where the number of polling places has been reduced from 159 to 125. The county’s top election official, Joe Gloria, isn’t required to consult with the County Commission before implementing this kind of change, regardless of how many voters are disfranchised. Oddly, Stacey Abrams failed to accuse these Democratic officials of voter suppression.
Most battleground states, particularly those with Democratic governors, decline to provide enough information to comprehensively analyze early voting. Most provide only mail-in data. It’s probable, however, that the early voting dynamics in most of the swing states are much the same as we have seen in Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. According to an October Gallup poll, 62 percent of Democratic and 28 percent of Republican voters planned to vote early this year. If those percentages are remotely accurate, the Democrats are delusional about the effect of early voting. Election Day will produce a tsunami of Republican votes that will reelect President Trump by state majorities that easily exceed the “margin of litigation.”