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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes – Battleground States One Day Out Edition

At CNN Politics Marshall Cohen reports that “Democrats take the lead in Florida early voting,” and notes that “More than 5.7 million Floridians have already hit the polls after about two weeks of in-person early voting. So far, 2,268,663 Democrats have cast their ballots and 2,261,383 Republicans have already voted…The numbers provide clues on who is voting and which party is turning out to vote. And while the numbers track voters’ party affiliations, not all Democrats are voting for Clinton, and not all Republicans are supporting Trump….The milestone is a boon to Hillary Clinton’s chances of carrying the Sunshine State and its 29 electoral votes — a prize so large that it would help her close off most of Donald Trump’s paths to victory…But it’s not all good news for Democrats: Their current lead is significantly smaller than the turnout advantage they had over registered Republicans at this point in 2008.” S.V. Date adds at HuffPo, “Of the early votes cast by Friday, close to one-third of the Hispanic voters had never voted in an election before. And polling makes clear that they are overwhelmingly voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.”

From “An early sign Trump is being out-organized: A big Democratic advantage in Nevada voting” by WaPo’s Philip Bump: “In 2012, Clark County made up more than two-thirds of all of the votes cast, and the county backed President Obama over Mitt Romney by 15 points — and by a margin of 101,000 votes. Clark County’s early vote and absentee turnout so far is 76 percent of the total votes cast in that county in 2012…More votes doesn’t necessarily mean more votes for the Democrat, of course. And in Clark County, the percent of early and absentee ballots cast by Democrats during the first two weeks dropped from 47.6 to 45.8 percent. The percentage of Republicans returning ballots, though, also fell, from 33.1 to 32.1 percent of the electorate. Over that period, the density of the parties in registered voter pools fell about the same amount — with the difference being an increase in nonpartisan voters. In 2012, that group made up 19 percent of the early/absentee vote; this year, it’s over 22 percent. As Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman notes, that’s a group that leans heavily young and nonwhite.”

At The Charlotte Observer Jim Morrill and Tim Funk report, “Democrats cast more early votes than any other group, but have not caught up to their 2012 numbers. Republicans, on the other hand, were running 11 percent above their 2012 performance, with nearly 100,000 more votes. Republicans credited the increase to efforts aimed at boosting GOP registration since 2012…But it is unaffiliated voters – who nearly match Republicans in registration – who have seen their early voting numbers jump the most: up 38 percent from four years ago…Who are they?…An analysis by Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill found that they tend to be younger. The median age of unaffiliated voters is 43. It’s 52 for voters registered with a party. And more than half first registered in North Carolina in 2010 or later.” However, adds Funk and Morrill, “African-American early turnout was also down 11 percent compared with 2012 as of Saturday afternoon. That’s a concern for Democrats.”

From the Dayton Daily News comes this nugget from “Ohio Democrats need to rethink strategy” by Thomas Suddes: “Two certain things about Tuesday: All 16 Ohioans with seats in the U.S. House will be re-elected thanks to rigged congressional districts. And U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, will win a second term by routing his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Ted Strickland…As for the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump slugfest, it appears, at this writing, that Trump may join the Richard M. Nixon Club: As noted before, the Nixon Club is composed of GOP nominees, like Nixon in 1960 and Thomas Dewey in 1944, who carry Ohio but don’t win the presidency…Given how safe Ohio’s congressional seats are, you have to wonder why anyone donates to 16 foolproof Ohio congressional campaigns. Maybe it’s because nothing says, “take my calls – please,” like a big check sent to the campaign fund of a safe-seat legislator…In some parts of the world, agreed, that might be considered little better than paying-for-access. That’s why Ohioans are so fortunate that their members of Congress, like General Assembly members, display such lofty ethical standards and unfailing rectitude.”

In his post, “What to watch in Virginia on election night,” Graham Moomaw of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes “Most polls indicate Clinton will follow in the footsteps of President Barack Obama by putting Virginia in the Democratic column for the third straight presidential election…But the race appears to be tightening in the campaign’s final stage, giving Republicans hope for a more interesting night with Trump potentially in position to grab the state’s 13 electoral votes…Recent Virginia polls showed Clinton with a 6- to 7-point lead. In 2012, Obama won the state over Republican Mitt Romney by roughly 4 points…With growing, increasingly diverse populations, Loudoun and Henrico counties are perhaps the best barometers of Virginia’s political winds…As microcosms of a purple state trending blue, both counties were once reliable GOP territory but went to Obama in 2008 and 2012. Four years ago, Obama won Henrico by nearly 12 points, and Loudoun by around 4.5 points. Democrats will want those margins to grow, while Republicans will want to see them fall back into more competitive territory…The numbers coming out of Chesterfield County, a key GOP stronghold, will serve as an indicator of Republicans’ enthusiasm for their nominee…A big Trump vote in Chesterfield, typically among the earliest to report results on election night, could signal strong Republican turnout and help offset Clinton’s gains in large Democratic localities. Weakness in Chesterfield would suggest Republicans are in for a disappointing night.”

In Colorado The Denver Post’s John Frank observes, “The University of Denver poll released Wednesday found Clinton and Trump deadlocked at 39 percent in a four-way race, in a survey of registered likely voters conducted Saturday through Monday…The third-party candidates combined for 15 percent with another 8 percent undecided. The poll’s margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.2 percent…The DU poll used live interviews on landlines and cellphones. It featured fewer Latino voters than expected to cast ballots and also less unaffiliated voters…Two other polls in recent days show the race closing in Colorado with Clinton holding a three-point lead within the margins…Among voters who already cast ballots, Clinton sits in a much better position at 45 percent to 38 percent for Trump — a number that appears to support early voting figures showing Democrats with a 23,000 ballot advantage.”

“The most dramatic shift has been in Pennsylvania. Polls long showed a tossup between incumbent Republican Pat Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty, but the race is clearly tilting in McGinty’s direction now. Our polls-plus forecast gives her a 74 percent chance of winning, and McGinty hasn’t trailed in a poll in over two weeks and has opened up her largest lead in the FiveThirtyEight polls-plus forecast for the entire year…Voters in Pennsylvania appear to be treating the presidential and Senate races as one, as Hillary Clinton and McGinty have about equal chances of winning the Keystone State. That’s bad news for Toomey, who was always an odd fit in Pennsylvania: He’s very conservative; the state leans blue. Toomey was elected in a midterm year; such elections have had more Republican-friendly electorates of late, and that was true in 2010, when Toomey won amidst a national GOP wave nationally. He was always going to have more trouble in a presidential election cycle.” — from Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight.

In Wisconsin:

I’m a little skeptical about the notion that GA is a swing state this year. For one thing, two Democratic dynasty candidates named Nunn and Carter both lost state-wide races by 8 points in 2014. Granted, mid-term elections have a built-in Republican edge, but still, 8 points is a lot. On the other hand, Sean Colarossi’s post, “Clinton’s Superior Ground Game Could Put Her Over The Top In Neck-and-Neck Georgia” at PoliticusUSA.com makes an interesting point: Not only are Clinton and Trump in a stat tie in the latest NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll; By all reports, Democrats have mobilized an impressive GOTV effort, and Trump has an exceptionally-weak ground game in the peach state. As Colarossi puts it, “With Trump’s operation far worse than Romney’s was four years ago and certainly inferior to Clinton’s, it’s conceivable that the Democratic nominee could outperform the polling by even more.”

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