With early voting ending across the country today and reports of increased turnout all across the nation the stars seem aligned for a massive Trump defeat. After – all, conventional wisdom holds increased turnout signals the end of the GOP as we know it and makes states turn purple. Conventional wisdom would be wrong though.
Take the case of Florida. A mere few weeks ago Democrats had a commanding 500K lead in mail balloting. For reference, on the eve of the election four years ago Democrats enjoyed a 200K+ advantage which turned into a 112K win for Donald Trump. As early voting officially ends, projections show Republican turnout has eclipsed where they were in 2016 and they actually have outvoted their opposition for the first time ever in a Presidential election. This has Democrats in the state fingerprinting about who is to blame for their failure even as most analysts expect GOP turnout on Election Day to dwarf their Democratic counterparts.
In nearby North Carolina and states as far as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Nevada – GOP early turnout is projected to eclipse their 2016 margins. Note: Nevada has an almost all mail election system meaning few voters will show on Election Day. Democrats have improved their numbers relative to 2016 in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and many safe blue states which won’t decide the election.
Well, okay, formerly in Arizona but the GOP seems to have righted that ship and is in parity with their opponents. In Michigan, rumors abound the Biden team actually trails Trump and in populous Wayne and Oakland Counties – early returns show 24,000 fewer voters have cast ballots (perhaps a sign black men are not enthused about Obama). In Wisconsin, Republicans outnumber Democrats 43 – 35 percent in returned mail ballots and early voting.
It is not just the partisan registration or assumed registration of voters or where they are that matters but their characteristics. The NYT (take what they say with a grain of salt) recently posted an article on non-voters showing up in droves. But, contrary to popular wisdom, these voters economic, educational and personal characteristics do not make them natural Democratic votes.
The examples abound. In North Carolina, black turnout by Sunday had made up an estimated 19.4 percent of all voters. This compares with over 22 percent being black in 2016 and 27 percent in 2012. Also, keep in mind, Democrats are worried about Trump’s increased support among black men and Hispanics who are a growing share of the electorate in GA and NC.
TargetSmart, a Democratic firm which I take some of my data from tries to create a picture of what non-voters look like based on area, demographics, past voting history (if available) and other factors and they find non – voters look surprisingly like Republican voters.
Just consider these numbers for rapidly diversifying and Democratic reach states of Georgia and Texas. In Texas, though only an estimate, TargetSmart assumes 39.7 percent of voting infrequent voters are non-college educated Caucasians. Another 21 percent are college educated whites and 22 percent Hispanics. It is important to bear in mind that even though Hispanics and college educated whites are key elements of the Democratic coalition in Texas they lean right of center – helping balance out strong black support for the party. In Georgia, a state highly defined by racial politics, non- college educated whites made up 40 percent of infrequent voters while blacks made up 30 percent. Another 17 percent were college educated whites but again they lean right of center. In both states, first-time voters looked attractive to Trump. Fully 43 percent of first-time voters in GA are non-college educated whites while in TX it is 45 percent.
Expanding this out to the Rust Belt, more than half of all first-time voters in WI, MI, MN, OH and PA are non – college educated whites. Ditto for first time voters. Which illustrates the two sides of the same coin for both Democrats and Republicans.
Even in a state has blue trending as Virginia, early and mail in balloting shows Republicans and more importantly non-college educated whites increasing their vote share from 29 percent in 2016 to a whopping 42.5 percent. If this is true it does not mean Trump would flip the state but that Biden would be having issues holding it and as such would be losing the election in true battleground states.
In diversifying states like TX, GA and AZ, increased turnout usually comes from urban and suburban areas favorable to Democrats chalk full of college educated voters and minorities. But, in the Rust – Belt and other locales infrequent and first – time voters often fit better within the modern GOP coalition demographically and culturally.
None of this is to assure a victory for Trump. But the signs are starting to point in a direction the Biden campaign would not have contemplated a mere few weeks ago; the increase in early and mail balloting might actually work to their detriments and benefit Republicans. Conventional wisdom might have to change.