Turnout Will Determine Whether Trump Wins

October/10/2020 8:06AM
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Polls are only as accurate as the sample percentages.  As we saw in 2016 they were wrong.

But, polls don’t measure enthusiasm.

Will Bernie’s people come out in hordes to get free college and tuition loan forgiveness? Do they believe Biden is lying about all this and will fall in line with his promises to Bernie? Do they believe Biden is telling the truth to America and will not fall in line. Do they believe Biden won’t make it through the first year and Harris will do the job?  Is this why Pelosi is doing the 25th Amendment game where she wants to create a group to determine a President’s fitness to serve? Biden’s crowds for his rallies suggest enthusiasm is low.

Before this year, all party groups had shown steady increases in early voting as states expanded these opportunities or moved to all-mail elections. Between 2004 and 2016, early voting increased by 22 points among Democrats, 18 points among Republicans and 16 points among independents. This year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a surge of early voting intentions among Democrats (18 points) and independents (12 points), but a sharp decline among Republicans (14 points) compared with 2016.

The Republican trend suggests these voters are adjusting their behavior to be consistent with President Donald Trump’s ongoing messaging against mail voting, which he claims will lead to widespread fraud in the election.

All told, 45% of U.S. registered voters plan to vote early, including 1% who had already voted by the time they were interviewed for the Sept. 14-28 poll. That represents a modest increase from what Gallup measured immediately before the 2016 election (40%) and a more substantial increase from prior years. Half of voters say they plan to vote on Election Day itself this year.

With the majority of votes likely being cast before Election Day, campaigning has accelerated. But the surge in early voting intentions is limited to Democrats and independents. Republican voters, after years of gravitating toward early voting, are now significantly less likely to vote early than they were in the last election. Perhaps Republicans, among whom more than 90% approve of the job he is doing as president, are being deterred from mail voting by Trump’s messaging.

That stark partisan contrast in voting methods may contribute to the uncertainty about the winner of the election. In states where mail ballots are not tabulated until Election Day, the early voting returns may show Trump leading, perhaps widely, in states he may ultimately lose once all mail ballots are tabulated. As such, the speed with which Americans know the winner of the election could depend on how quickly absentee ballots can be counted.

Since the Presidential election is going to be decided by a few swing states there are no polling data to determine predicted voter turnout in these key states.

The question “are you better off now than you were four years ago” is often the key question. COVID throws a pall over that. Despite COVID Gallup shows 55% say yes to that question.

This might be very telling in battleground states.

In Florida, Republicans added a net 195,652 registered voters between this March’s presidential primary and the end of August, while Democrats added 98,362 and other voters increased 69,848. During the same period in 2016, Republicans added a net 182,983 registrants, Democrats 163,571 and others 71,982. In 2016, Trump prevailed in Florida by just 112,911 votes.

Even in heavily blue Miami-Dade County, where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 29 points in 2016, Republicans added a net 22,986 additional voter registrations between March and the end of August, compared to 11,142 for Democrats.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans added a net 135,619 voters between this June’s primary and the final week of September, while Democrats added 57,985 and other voters increased 49,995. Between the April 2016 primary and the November 2016 general election, Republicans added 175,016 registrants, Democrats added 155,269 and others 118,989. That fall, Trump won the state by just 44,292 votes.

The pro-GOP trend since 2016 is also apparent, if less dramatic, in Arizona and North Carolina, two Sun Belt states Democrats have high hopes of flipping blue.

In North Carolina, Republicans added a net 83,785 voters between this March’s presidential primary and the final week of September, while Democrats added 38,137 and other voters jumped 100,256. During the same period in 2016, Republicans added 54,157 registrants, Democrats added 38,931 and others 140,868. In 2016, Trump carried North Carolina by 173,315 votes.

In Arizona, Democrats out-registered Republicans 31,139 to 29,667 on a net basis between the March presidential primary and the August state primary, compared to Democrats topping Republicans 66,523 to 53,185 over the same period in 2016. This data doesn’t include new registrations from late August or September, and Arizona’s registration deadline is Oct. 5.

To be sure, it can be hazardous to draw broad conclusions from voter registration statistics. For example, the youngest voters both overwhelmingly dislike Trump and increasingly choose not to affiliate with either major party.

Finally there is the issue of invalid ballots by mail. As a rule 20-25% of mail ballots are ruled invalid due to error. Since Democrats are voting by mail it may mean they will lose thousands if not millions of votes. This is why Biden has hired 600 attorneys and why the outcome may not be decided for weeks.

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