What early voting can (and can't) tell us about the election
Democratic strategists think the early numbers show a 2020 electorate that's bigger, younger and more diverse than in 2016 — and not just shifting forward votes that would have otherwise arrived on Election Day.
The big picture: Early voting data signals strong Democratic enthusiasm in key battleground states. But strategists in both parties say Republicans could still overtake that advantage with a surge of in-person turnout on Election Day.
Details: So far, first-time and infrequent Democratic voters are outpacing registered Republicans with larger margins than in 2016, according to data from TargetSmart, a Democratic firm.
- “In North Carolina, nearly 1 in 5 ballots cast so far come from those who didn’t vote in 2016," said Greg Speed, president of America Votes.
- 24.9 million ballots have already been cast. In key states like Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Iowa, more than a quarter of the total number of ballots that were cast in 2016 have already been received.
- More than six times as many Democrats have cast ballots than at the same point in 2016 — and Republican early voting has nearly quadrupled.
Pennsylvania and Florida are key to watch.
- 59% of first-time voters who already cast ballots in Pennsylvania are registered Democrats, compared to the just 15% who are registered Republicans. Democratic first-time voters were just barely outvoting Republicans (40% to 38%) at this point in 2016.
- In Florida, registered Democrats' lead over registered Republicans among first-time voters has grown by nearly 10 percentage points compared to 2016.
What to watch: 2020 is an election like none other, and comparisons to 2016 should be taken with a grain of salt.
- "I can't help but look at this data with the lens of Trump telling Republicans so consistently that vote-by-mail is a scam," Josh Mendelsohn, CEO of Michael Bloomberg's data firm Hawkfish, told Axios. "That distrust — it bears out in this data."
- "There's less of an imperative for Republicans to vote early," said Mike Meyers, a Republican and president TargetPoint Consulting.