GOP leads in early voting
In an encouraging sign for the GOP, registered Republicans have been more likely to vote in most key states that will determine control of the Senate, according to an analysis from TargetSmart provided to NBC News on Oct. 22. Democrats, according to TargetSmart, tend to do better with early voters, so these signs are encouraging for the GOP.
Republicans have built a large lead in early voting in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas. Of the states surveyed by TargetSmart, only in Nevada have Democrats led in early voting. Nevada polling guru Jon Ralston calculates that the Democrats have a small lead based on recent numbers from the Silver State.
According to the NBC report, Republicans typically do better among absentee voters and in-person voters. Democrats typically do better among early voters, leaving Republicans to catch up on Election Day. Therefore, the fact that more GOP early ballots have been returned than Democratic ballots bodes well for the Republicans’ chances to expand their majority in the Senate.
The wild card in this analysis is that in many of these states, a significant number of Independent or unaffiliated voters have returned ballots as well. For example, in Arizona, Florida, Montana, and Nevada, between 18-25% of the early voters have been those registered with Parties other than the two main ones. Therefore, it would be difficult to predict which Party is doing better in early voting in these four states.
There is some silver lining for the Democrats. Based on a comparison with the 2014 and 2016 elections, Democrats are doing much better in early voting. For example, in Iowa’s 1st District, the Democrats are doing 10 points better than they did in 2016, and in the state of Florida, the Democrats are doing better than they did in 2014.