Two weeks ago, we looked at initial early voting data compiled by the U.S. Election Project with the aim of sussing out how campaigns were doing at putting votes in the bank. At that point, it seemed like Democrats were doing particularly well in Iowa and North Carolina compared to voter registration numbers. Republicans were doing well in other battleground states.
Now, that's changed. Compared to overall voter registration, Iowa and North Carolina Democrats are doing much worse than earlier in the month, and Republicans in those states much better. We've also added new states that recently began early voting: Nevada, California and Colorado. In each, Republicans are outperforming Democrats.
How to read this: A red or blue dot above the diagonal line shows that the Republican (or, for a blue dot, Democratic) vote in the state comprises a larger percentage of the early vote than the total voter pool. A dot below the line indicates that the early vote is under-performing for that demographic. The further above or below the line the dot falls, the better or worse the group is faring. The change since the last time we did this is indicated with a line connected to the small dot at the previous percentage.
Interestingly, unaffiliated/undeclared voters are uniformly underperforming their registration numbers, perhaps in part because campaigns aren't targeting them as aggressively in the early vote process. But that puts the poor performance of Democratic campaigns in sharper relief. If unaffiliated voters are underperforming as a percentage of all of the votes that are in, one would expect the two parties to be overperforming.
But Democrats aren't. The bad news for them is clear: the extent to which the red dots are above the line and the blue dots are below it. In what we expect to be a relatively low-turnout election, Democrats would want (and really need) to leverage their generally superior turnout mechanisms to bank votes early. So far, they're getting beaten at that effort.
The bad news for Republicans is that — as we mentioned two weeks ago — these numbers can and will change quickly. As always, it's the trend that's worth watching, and while the red dots are mostly rising, they're falling in Florida and Maine. (In Georgia, where data are available in terms of the race of the voter, the number of black voters voting early is rising, which can be read as another good sign for Democrats, since they are a reliably Democratic constituency.)
The bottom line: Republicans are seeing what they want — higher rates of turnout among their voters.