Data on early voting compiled by the United States Election Project offers an interesting-but-incomplete look at how this year's elections will shake out.
Early voting usually deals with small numbers of actual votes, meaning that there can be large swings over short time periods in vote distribution. What's more, it's often hard to evaluate how any one state's returns reflect on the race on the whole. According to the USEP data, for example, just over 50 percent of the early vote returns in Florida are from Republicans. (We don't know who the voters backed, of course, but people usually back the candidate representing their party.) But how many of Florida's voters are Republicans? Without that information, it's hard to evaluate the early returns.
We took the USEP data and pulled demographic information from the websites of the respective states to develop a matrix of the early vote. We'll update this as Election Day approaches, with an eye toward gauging how turnout is progressing. Eventually, too, we hope to add more states.
How to read this: A red or blue dot above the diagonal line shows that the Republican (or, respectively, Democratic) vote in the state comprises a larger percentage of the early vote than the voter pool. That's good news for that party. A dot below the line indicates that the early vote is under-performing for that demographic. Bad news. The further above or below the line the dot falls, the better or worse the group is faring.
With the renewed caveat that these are early early returns, we see that Republicans in Florida are doing quite well -- especially compared to the Democrats. In Iowa, both Democrats and Republicans are outperforming registration, but that's partly because the "no party preference" voters aren't really voting at all. And Democrats are over-performing significantly more than Republicans.
In Georgia, we only have racial data available, which is admittedly more tricky. In the key Senate race in the state, white voters back David Perdue (R) by a two-to-one margin while black voters support Michelle Nunn (D) by 10-to-1, according to a recent SurveyUSA poll. We colored Georgia's dots light blue and red to facilitate reading the graph quickly. It's white voters who are turning out more so far, by a wide margin.
This will change. As the weeks pass, those dots will move around, sometimes a lot. But for Democratic operatives in Georgia and Florida, and Republican ones in Iowa and Maine: you'd better get to work on changing them.