As you well know, Democrats have been pushing early voting and vote by mail really hard this year, thanks to the novel coronavirus and its subsequent pandemic. And now that most states have added in a bunch of early voting days as well as a massive opportunity to vote by mail or absentee ballot, it is assumed that the great majority of them will use these methods rather than waiting for Election Day.
Because of this, experts agree that early voting counts will make it look as though Democratic candidate Joe Biden is in the lead and likely a significant one. However, this lead may be squashed on Election Day as Republican voters turn out to support their candidate.
How many Democrat voters need to show up to vote early to maintain that lead?
Well, according to The Hill’s John Pudner, 70 percent in most states, with the other 30 percent showing up on November 3.
He writes, “Forbes polling indicates that roughly half of all voters plan to vote early, with 62 percent of Democrats planning to vote early while 72 percent of Republicans plan to wait and vote on Election Day. If that happened and independents split evenly (last time Trump won them), then Democrats would need to win early voting at least 70 percent to 30 percent to be on pace to barely overcome a 31 percent to 69 percent advantage in partisan Election Day votes.”
But is that actually happening?
As you know, early voting is well underway in most states by now, and the results are coming in. No, I don’t mean the votes are actually being counted; we have to wait until Election Day for that. However, polling locations can count the number of people coming in and note their registered party, giving a rough estimate of the assumed vote – if people are actually voting for their party’s candidate.
Let’s look at how this is playing out so far in battleground states like Iowa, Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
Pudner notes that Pennsylvania certainly seems to be meeting that 70/30 goal. In fact, it’s doing really well, with a 79/21 split so far. However, it is the only state to do so.
“In Iowa, Democrats have cast 336,780 early votes and Republicans cast 199,586, a 63 to 37 percent edge.” Clearly, this is a far cry short of the 70 percent Dems need to win the state. And so Republicans look to have the advantage.
And in Florida, they have even less of a lead. In the Sunshine State, 1,926,055 Democrats have voted, so far outvoting the 1,463,281 Republicans who have cast their vote. And while the numbers may seem significant, the difference in percentages is not. Currently, Dems only have 57 percent, and as Pudner says, it “is well short of the 70 percent they need to beat the expected Republican turnout… Again, the advantage goes to Republicans.”
Things in Nevada are a bit different. Currently, Dems have outvoted Republicans 170,689 to 122,735 for a 58 percent to 42 percent edge.” And while it may seem as though they have fallen just as short as Floridian Democrats, voting early and by mail is a much more usual affair in Nevada. In fact, according to state estimates, only about 1 in 5 voters plan to wait till Election Day to cast their ballot.
This makes the Dems percentage needed to beat out Republicans quite a bit less, at 59 percent. So while Republicans are still in the lead, it isn’t by a lot.
Then again, with more than 60 percent of the state’s population expected to vote by mail, as they did in 2016, it’s a bit harder to calculate, especially considering the rate of failure for vote-by-mail ballots.
According to NBC News, “Sixty percent of voters – nearly 70 million people – are projected to vote by mail nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic. Those who study absentee rejection rates estimate that 1 percent to 2 percent of those votes – potentially more than 1 million – won’t count, which could make a difference in battleground states.”
And they note that those failure rates go up even higher for certain demographic or geographic regions. “The rate of rejection tends to be higher for Black, Hispanic, female and younger voters, as well as for people who don’t usually vote by mail.” Note that nearly all of those groups are ones typically assumed to vote Democratic.
Additionally, states that haven’t had much experience with vote-by-mail en masse will also see an increase in ballot rejection, such as Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And if state primaries are any indication, states like New York and California will have increased failure rates of 3-5%, although New York City’s rates were closer to 20 percent.
I suddenly hear President Trump giving an ‘I told you so’ speech… Anyone else?