Last week, I wrote about reading into the tea leaves of the early vote. Now, I want to take a counterfactual approach and lay out some reasons why we should always be skeptical of the early data using some notable examples.
- Georgia’s Early Vote: Despite the arguments of the state suppressing the vote a record number of voters have voted early. Of these voters, about 29 percent are black and 57 percent are white while the remainder are other races. On the surface black turnout not exceeding 2014 levels (in terms of percentage of the total vote) would be a good thing for Republicans. But that assumes all whites vote red and everybody else blue. That is obviously not the case. We simply don’t know whether white liberal partisans are turning out early, how much of the black vote, particularly men, Republicans have made inroads with, or what ultimate turnout will be on Election Day.
- Pennsylvania: You’ll have to forgive me but over at Targetfart, the partisan hack known as Tom Bonier, has been praising to whatever deity he worships on Twitter how well Democrats have been doing in the early and mail vote in the state. For reference, turnout is obviously down from 2020 and percentage – wise Democrats are a point ahead of 2020. Extrapolating anything from this data is a fool’s errand. Why? Because until 2019 Pennsylvania had very limited early voting. Until 2020 we did not have a former President accusing the state of being ground zero for election fraud. Until 2016 we also had yet to see the massive coalitional realignment in the state realized (Western PA solidly red while formerly pink suburbs turned dark blue). We don’t know where Democratic votes are coming from (many Democrats in the SW vote red) in the same way we don’t know where some Republican votes are coming from. Considering the state is ground zero for many election fraud claims in 2020, one would expect many right leaning voters to turn out on Election Day.
- Nevada: No state better encapsulates so many debates overs the changing politics of America. But, in regards to the early vote, historically Clark County has created a firewall for Democrats. In both 2016 and 2020, Democrats created a massive firewall of around 60K to 70K votes which proved too large for Trump to overcome. This go – round, as of Saturday’s mail vote count, Democrats have a much narrow 30K or so lead. That lead statewide is narrowed down some when you factor in the rural early vote. Another couple important things to note is while we focus so much on partisan mail returns we don’t know how they will vote. Further, almost a full third of the vote has been registered Independents, how these voters go will swing the election. In 2016, Independents backed Trump by 13 points but overall Democratic turnout swamped theirs and Republican votes. In 2020, Trump consolidated the right leaning Independent vote and more self identified Republicans voted. But that left more left leaning Independents to seal the deal for Biden. The question is whether Independents are returning to 2016 or look more like 2020. The answer will determine the state’s results. But simply examining the early vote will not tell us this.
- Overall: I chose just three states to focus on but there are others. For example, Florida’s early vote where Republicans are actually outvoting Democrats in historically Democratic Miami – Dade. Or Wisconsin where Democrats are buoyed by actual high youth turnout or NC where the early vote for their registered partisans has jumped significantly. But again, we don’t know how they are actually voting.
So, yes, one can read into the tea leaves. But I caution against it. For these reasons and many more I did not mention.