Like most of you, I have been obsessively reading the polling data looking for good news, but it has been an up and down ride this past week, especially on the 538 blog.
But at this point I am totally confused.
The biggest problem, at the moment is what seems to be a huge disconnect between polling and what is happening on the ground in early voting. Let’s take a look at two examples, Nevada and North Carolina.
The political wisdom says that if Hillary wins these two states, there is pretty much no path to 270 for Trump. Currently, 538 has both states as toss-ups and I have seen a number of maps from other other sources that have these states colored at least pink.
Here is my confusion. It seems that early voting data is tells a very different story.
Early voting data has one great advantage, these are actual votes, not “could, maybe, might.” Now, early voting data is not perfect, the votes themselves are not counted yet. But we do have demographic data about those votes, including, most importantly (in some states), party registration.
So they can make Red, Blue and White (Independents) stacks of envelopes and we can see how things are going by the size of the stacks.
So, if we just make a couple of assumptions, like 90% of Democrats vote Hillary and 90% of Republicans vote Trump, we can then total up the partisan votes, make an educated guess at the Independents and have a pretty good feel for where things are going.
The early voting in Nevada is going very well for Democrats. According to Jon Ralston, local political analyst, Democrats are outpacing Republicans up and down the ballot in early voting. He does hedge his bets a bit in today’s report, but he says that Republicans would need a big turnout on election day to even have a chance of winning there. In 2012 he says, Democrats won on election day, and we know Trump has no GOTV ground game. So, Nevada is looking very Blue, no matter what a few polls say (Ralston laughed at the CNN poll that showed Trump up by 5, said that it showed Trump up by one percent in Nevada’s most Democratic county. Ain’t gonna happen.)
Similar situation in North Carolina. The New York Times is doing a similar analysis of early voting trends and is projecting that Hillary has a 9 percentage point lead in early voting and that she will win the state by 6 points. Similar to Obama in 2012.
Again the caveats apply. No actual votes have been counted yet and these reports are still predictions. But they are predictions based on much more data than any poll. It’s possible that Democrats suddenly started voting for Trump, or that Independents have. But both seem unlikely.
I have not seen a full analysis for Florida early voting trends, but it seems that the trends there are mixed. Democratic voting is slightly behind 2012 trends so far, but some people think that younger voters are registering independent and that may tip the election clearly towards Hillary, we shall see, I suppose.
But in playing with the electoral map, if you give Hillary Nevada and North Carolina, give up Ohio and Iowa, and otherwise keep something like the 2012 map, Hillary wins.
And it might even be an early night on Tuesday.
So, get out and knock on some doors, get your friends to vote and work hard this weekend, could be going to bed early on Tuesday.