After 2016, it’s hard to have a lot of faith in the polls, so the question is, how do we assess the state of the race? In 2016, most state polls were as bad as national polls, and cherrypicking specific polls isn’t a great option either, as it lends itself to confirmation bias.
So, in many ways, the best thing we can use to judge the state of the race is to analyze early-voting statistics. According to Gallup 62 percent of Democrat and 28 percent of Republican voters plan to vote early this year when they otherwise have been only within a few points of each other. So, what can we say about the state of the election based on early voting statistics?
Writing at UncoveredDC, bestselling author Larry Schweikart looked at some early voting numbers.
Schweikart noted that despite the Democrats’ early lead in early voting, both in vote-by-mail (VBM) and in-person early voting (IPEV), they peaked around October 16 and Republicans have been catching up–big time. In Florida, for example, GOP votes are “on a pace to be well ahead of 2016, when Hillary Clinton entered election day with an 88,000 lead in the Sunshine State.”
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Things are also looking good in North Carolina. According to Schweikart, “While Democrats lead by 301,000 (and this is also falling rapidly), the black vote currently is at 20% of all turnout, behind the black share of all 2016 turnout of 21.89%–itself a drop off from 2012. When Barack Obama won the state in 2012, the share of the black vote was 23%, but he won by only one point.” Polls have also suggested that Trump has increased his support from the black community since 2016.
Schweikart also sees good news for Trump in Virginia–a state not really on anyone’s radar, as it has been getting bluer. “Currently, the black turnout is at 13% there. (Keep in mind that up to 15% of that number will be Trump voters). For Democrats to feel safe, it needs to be closer to 18-19%.”
Pennsylvania is also looking good for Trump. While Democrat early voting is way ahead of Republicans in the state, Schweikart cites a recent report from New York Times which notes that Joe Biden “has not yet matched Mrs. Clinton’s share of support in Philadelphia proper.”
Averaging the results of the two recent polls, he has the backing of 73 percent of Philadelphia voters, down from 83 percent for Mrs. Clinton in 2016. According to the Times/Siena poll, Mr. Trump was supported by 24 percent of Philadelphians, nine points ahead of his exit poll numbers in 2016.
“Anyone who thinks Biden will make it up in the middle of the state is smoking something special,” writes Schweikart.
These numbers spell doom for Joe Biden in the Keystone State. “Not only can Biden not win Pennsylvania with these numbers, he would suffer major hits across the board.”
The Washington Times also reported on Tuesday that “In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona, Democrats are falling short of their target of 70% of early votes cast either in person or by mail. That is the lead they hoped to build up to stave off an expected higher Republican turnout on Election Day.”
Anything can happen, but based on the information we have, things look pretty good for Trump in battleground states.