Clinton has small lead in swing states’ early votes
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Clinton has small lead in swing states’ early votes

In some key states, almost a quarter of the electorate has already cast ballots

An absentee ballot featuring voting options for the US presidential election, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, as seen in Washington, DC, October 27, 2016. (AFP PHOTO)
An absentee ballot featuring voting options for the US presidential election, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, as seen in Washington, DC, October 27, 2016. (AFP PHOTO)

The numbers among early voters showed a small advantage for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in key swing states, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The “October surprise” caused by FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress concerning the discovery of new emails possibly connected to the Clinton investigation may be blunted by the high number of early ballots cast. Across the country more than 20 million people have already voted, including almost a quarter of the electorate in key swing states.

In addition, the strength of feeling for the two candidates means that it is unlikely that voters will be swayed by yet another round of the ongoing email investigation, some pundits believe.

The consensus among the people The Times spoke with in Colorado, Florida and North Carolina was that the latest round of the ongoing Clinton email saga made little difference. Neither Democrats nor Republicans were likely to change their decisions based on Comey’s announcement.

Early ballots are not counted until election day, but in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina, early voting appears to favor the Democrats based on the demographics of those who voted.

This combination of images shows Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Roanoke, Virginia on September 24, 2016 and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton September 21, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.(AFP PHOTO / DESK)
This combination of images shows Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Roanoke, Virginia on September 24, 2016 and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton September 21, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.(AFP PHOTO / DESK)

In Florida, registered Republicans have a tiny lead of less than 65,000 among mail voters who have returned their ballots, but are behind by over 40,000 in early in-person votes. The gap between the two is dwarfed by the number of early voters with no party affiliation.

The Democratic numbers are boosted by the high percentage of Hispanics who have voted early. Though comprising only 2 percent of registered voters, 12.9% of Hispanics have already voted by mail and 14.2% in early in-person ballots, higher than in the 2012 presidential election.

In North Carolina’s early voting, Democrats led by 43% to the Republicans 31%, but those numbers were lower than the 2012 percentages for Democrats and higher than 2012’s rates for Republicans. The biggest jump in early voting was 36.9% among registered unaffiliated voters. Only 22% of those voting early were black, a lower number than four years ago, which points to a problem for Clinton. But 56% of the votes cast so far were by women, which does not bode well for Trump.

In Colorado slightly more registered Democrats have voted than registered Republicans.

In Nevada Democrats have a large lead, with 44.65% of those who have already voted compared to only 35.69% of Republicans.

The Democrats have worked hard campaigning in the early voting swing states in an attempt to counter any late voter move toward Trump. Clinton’s aides told The Times that the goal was to build up a lead that the Republicans cannot beat even if they have the most ballots cast on election day.

The higher early voting numbers may turn out to be meaningless if they only reflect those who would have voted anyway on election day. The crucial question for both campaigns is whether the early voters are those who can make a difference to the outcome of the election. The Democrats claim that in North Carolina and Nevada there is a higher turnout of Democrats among those who did not vote in non-presidential elections, which they hope will give them the advantage when the final tally comes in.

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