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Early votes: High interest buoys Clinton in key states

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    More people are seeking or casting early ballots in the critical states of North Carolina and Florida than at this point in 2012, with Hillary Clinton the likely benefactor, as early voting shows signs of surging nationwide.

WASHINGTON >> More people are seeking or casting early ballots in the critical states of North Carolina and Florida than at this point in 2012, with Hillary Clinton the likely benefactor, as early voting shows signs of surging nationwide.

Clinton may also benefit from an increase in ballot requests in Georgia, a traditionally Republican state where Democrats have made inroads. But Donald Trump is showing signs of strength in Iowa and parts of Maine, states won by Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections.

The latest snapshot of ballot data offers a glimpse into a key question: How much of a vote advantage can Clinton run up before Nov. 8, when more Republicans tend to vote? Traditionally Republicans have done better initially with early mail-in ballots, before Democrats surpass them once in-person early voting begins. While the ballot sample to date remains small, Clinton so far is hitting guideposts in several battleground states compared to 2008 and 2012.

Though preliminary, data compiled by The Associated Press suggest that advance voting could reach 40 percent of all votes cast nationally — up from 35 percent in 2012. It may also indicate a higher overall turnout in an election that has generated enormous public interest despite — or because of — the unpopularity of both major party candidates.

In Ohio, nearly 806,000 voters had submitted absentee ballot applications. That’s up from nearly 723,000 during a similar period in 2012, when a record 1.87 million early ballots ultimately were cast by mail and in person.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, Brandon Starkes, 28, cited the state’s unsuccessful bid to impose a voter ID law in his decision to vote early. The law was struck down as racially discriminatory.

“I want to make sure I don’t have to deal with issues at the polls on Election Day,” he said. Starkes plans to vote for Clinton.

In-person early voting begins Thursday in Iowa, while Florida, Arizona and New Hampshire mail out ballots beginning early next month.

In North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump, more than 69,150 ballots have been requested and 8,541 have been returned, according to AP data. That’s up from 8,326 ballots returned during a similar period in 2012.

By party, Democrats made up 40 percent of the ballots returned compared to 35 percent for Republicans. At this point in 2012, Republicans had opened a wide lead over Democrats in returned ballots, 49 percent to 32 percent, leading to Mitt Romney’s narrow win that state. While Romney was boosted by older whites who voted early by mail, white voters so far have been down this year, to 82 percent from 86 percent of submitted ballots. Black voters, more likely to cast ballots in person, were higher at 12 percent.

“Voters appear to be listening and changing behavior in reaction to changes in laws,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who runs the U.S. Election Project.

Florida doesn’t start absentee balloting until Tuesday, but already a record 2.5 million voters have requested ballots. Republicans are ahead in ballot requests, 43 percent to 38 percent.

That’s a much narrower gap than in 2008, the most recent in which comparable data was available. At that time, the Republicans held a solid lead in requests, 51 percent to 32 percent, according to data analyzed for the AP by Catalist, a Democratic firm that helped run data operations for Obama’s 2008 race. Obama won the state by 2.8 percentage points.

The 2016 improvement can’t be wholly attributed to fresh Democratic enthusiasm. A change in Florida’s laws meant that voters in 2014 who requested absentee ballots could automatically receive them this year. Still, Democrats welcomed early gains, saying it will free them to target more undecided voters.

Elsewhere, Republicans showed promise.

In Iowa, Democratic requests for ballots continued to outpace Republicans, 63,880 to 24,700. Despite the 3 to 1 advantage, that’s a drop from 2012, when Democrats at this point led 119,318 to 24,909. Clinton plans to visit the state Thursday, the first day of Iowa’s early voting.

“Democrats need to run up the score in Iowa, and so far they are not,” said Lindsay Walters, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

In Maine’s rural 2nd Congressional District, requests for ballots are down 18 percent, mostly among Democrats. Trump is counting on that district’s one electoral vote as part of his narrow path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. If he succeeds, he would be the first Republican since 1992 to win the district in the mostly Democratic state. Maine and Nebraska are the only states that allocate electoral votes by congressional district.

In Georgia, the state does not provide breakdowns of ballots by party, but overall ballot requests are up 5 percent to 82,504.

By race, requests for ballots by whites rose to 62,732 while those from blacks were down slightly to 16,937, according to Catalist’s analysis for the AP. However, Asian-Americans, who in recent elections have leaned Democratic, nearly doubled to 1,588. Hispanics were lower at 761.

Voter modeling by Catalist found that ballots broken down by party were at similar levels to 2012. Obama lost Georgia that year by roughly 8 percentage points. That means to win the state Clinton will have to make up more ground among African-Americans and Hispanics when in-person early voting begins Oct. 17.

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  • more spin by the AP just because there’s more democrat voters doing early voting, they could be voting for trump. so the AP is spreading rumors again, they are running scared because trump may win the presidency so they want to try and discourage voters well it won’t work because people are catching on to the AP lies.

  • The good thing about early voting is we can all see, bit by bit, how that reality TV dude is falling behind more and more. That’ll put him in a panic, he’ll say even stranger things, and his blind followers will be left scratching their heads….

    I mean, how can a guy who smartly knew Obama is a Muslim from Africa, who talks like an attention-seeking reality TV star, who makes fun of handicapped people, who disrespects party elders and top military leaders, who smartly doesn’t pay ANY taxes, and smartly hides his many skeletons by being the ONLY presidential candidate to not release tax returns….how can a role model like that not win???

    • he did release his tax returns, he e-mailed them to Hillary, but she destroyed them along with her 33,000 e-mails. so hillary missed out. and its not our business if he does not want to show his tax returns, of course you liberals will say anything just to be nosey.

      • lol, so much about Hillary’s emails, but the Donald gets a pass for not releasing his tax returns. The Donald if he becomes president will have done away with an important tradition in this country. This more than anything else causes me to vote for sweet Hillary, a woman who kicked the Donald’s butt during the first debate. Go Hillary!

    • You don’t know what you are talking about not some of the time but all the time. He released his tax returns under seal. Why would he release them to anyone if he is not required too. All the American people have to know is he has no one on his staff being granted immunity from prosecution and is not under investigation by Congress. End of story.

  • and yet, the daily mail lists snap polls from numerous news agencies that have the orange one leading the female felon in just about every poll.

    it would be epic if everyone eligible to vote registered and submitted a ballot. the failure of the majority of eligible voters to vote is embarrassing for the nation.

    whatever your affiliation, vote. encourage your friends, neighbors and family to register and vote. doesn’t matter if they agree with you, just convince them to vote.

  • Dishonest Donald caught red handed circumventing US trade embargo with Cuba. Dishonest Donald tried to build casinos back in the 1990s while spouting out he would never do anything as long as Castro ran the country. Out of 19 candidates the Republicans really picked a loser.

    • Another poster a couple of months back astutely commented that Trump is the only candidate Hillary could beat, and Hillary is the only candidate Trump could beat. Monday evening I kept imagining either Rand Paul or John Kasich up there on stage and realized how true that observation was..

      • The republicans had close to 20 people running or considering running for president and the Donald came out on top. The Donald was the best candidate the republicans had running. Hopefully someday republicans will go back to being republicans instead of Voodoo practitioners .

        • Either of the two individuals I mentioned would have wiped the floor with Hillary, and you know it. But please, don’t let cogent thought interfere with your endless drivel, keep your record intact..

  • It appears that Trump thought it wise to wing it.

    Katie Pavlich wrote Monday on the conservative site Townhall, “Trump didn’t take the conventional road of preparing for the debate and skipped mock debate practice altogether.”

    Pavlich quoted the senior Trump campaign adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders as saying:

    “Donald Trump does what works best for him, and I think that is discussing the issues, studying the issues and frankly being himself. He’s not a poll-tested, scripted robot like Hillary Clinton. That’s a great contrast to have and one I think we are certainly excited to see tonight.”

    Well, the robot won. And she did so because she had the discipline and forethought to properly prepare.

    At one point during the debate, Trump said of Clinton:

    “And I will tell you, you look at the inner cities — and I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia, and I just — you know, you’ve seen me, I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s O.K.”

    But Clinton shot back:

    “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

    The crowd applauded.

    It takes a tremendous ego and a healthy dose of hubris to believe that you can simply bluster your way through a presidential debate, but if anyone thinks that way, it’s no surprise it’s the uniquely underqualified and overblown king of bragging and whining: Donald J. Trump.

    In the end, Clinton ran rings around him as he didn’t even seem prepared to answer the most obvious questions and attacks.NYT

    Ran rings around him–shoots she was galaxies away, and it wasn’t even close…..

  • Some folks are hoping for Gary Johnson to win, but just yesterday, he couldn’t name a single head of state for an allied country. Not one. He has Aleppo moments over and over, which makes him sound like a simpleton. Someone with the ignorance of Trump, but without Trump’s psychoses.

    • Rumor has it many democrats will be voting for Jill Stein. She may be a bit nutty but at lease she won’t have to raid the treasury in order to pay back Wall Street banks. Waldo took $22 million in speaking fees in 2 short years from wealthy banks, I think even a 3rd grader with a learning disability would recognize that as influence peddling. Imagine how many hungry mouths that $22 million could feed.

      • LOL, that is less than Dishonest Donald has paid to influence politicians across the world to buy his way in to build his casinos. One wonders how much he offered Castro in the 1990s.

        • You seem to be leaving out the fact that Waldo, should she be elected, will use taxpayer money to repay her Wall St. pals. I’m not aware of his Trumpness raiding the treasury to reward “donors”. Back to the drawing board Holmes.

      • And Dishonest Donald had to pull in Don King, a convicted murderer, to try to convince inner city voters he is their man. Wonder how much Dishonest Donald had to pay Don, he does not work for free.

        • And HiLIARy had to pull out a convicted rapist to get the women vote. Let’s see how that works out.

        • If you meddling, micro-managing progressives cared about the environment as much as you say you do, you’d all drop Waldo like a case of STD’s and vote for Mrs. Stein.

        • CEI – You made that up a while back and have been writing it a lot.

          Conservatives are the ones who want a government so big that it monitors every single pregnancy from conception to term. And conservatives are the ones who want a government so big that it decides exactly how people like Terry Schiavo die. Progressive are way too smart for that kind of nonsense.

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