Republicans Claim Victory in Early Voting

Democrats face badly lagging GOTV performance in several key states, advantage cut down 50 percent in Florida

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 07 Nov 2016 at 8:35 PM

Operatives from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee said Monday they have done everything possible to deliver victory Tuesday and expressed delight at early voting trends in several key states.

Though Democrat Hillary Clinton will carry a small polling lead into Election Day, Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie expressed optimism in a conference call with reporters.

“We are just one day away from ending the special-interest control of our government, revitalizing our economy, and renewing our commitment to a strong national defense.”

“We are just one day away from ending the special-interest control of our government, revitalizing our economy, and renewing our commitment to a strong national defense,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, and we are so excited for Election Day. And we’ve seen an enormous surge in momentum in the last week.”

Trump has kept up a frenetic pace as the campaign roars to the finish line. He will visit five states Monday, after making 13 stops in the previous three days.

“Our final stretch run has been just incredible,” Bossie said. “And at each stop, we’re seeing enormous crowds who are fired up to stop Hillary Clinton from bringing her dishonest and unethical activities into the White House.”

Republican Party officials pointed to hopeful signs in early voting, where Democrats traditionally have dominated:

  • Florida: Registered Democrats have cast 87,000 more early and absentee ballots than Republicans, down from a 168,000-vote margin in 2012. The Republican share of ballots is up by 1 percentage point from four years ago, while the Democratic share has declined by 5 points.
  • Arizona: The Republican lead in absentee ballots returned is 95,000. Bill Dunn, the party's director of early and absentee voting, said Republicans lead with 36.5 percent of absentee ballots requested but have an even greater advantage in absentee ballots returned, at 40 percent of the total.
  • Colorado: Republicans lead Democrats in early voting, 652,000 to 645,000.
  • Iowa: Republican early ballots make up 2.5 points more of the total returned, while 20,000 fewer Democrats voted early compared with 2012.
  • North Carolina: The Democratic lead in early voting is 140,000 votes smaller than in 2012. Democratic ballots as a share of votes cast are down by 6 points, while the Republican share is .5 percentage points higher.

Ohio does not register voters by party, but Dunn pointed to clues that the GOP is running ahead of 2012. Early votes in Democratic strongholds have declined. Voters in Cuyahoga County have cast 57,000 fewer ballots, a 22-percent drop. Other strongholds include Hamilton County [14,000 fewer vote, down 13 percent], Franklin County [27,000 fewer votes, down 12 percent], and Summit County [11,000 fewer votes, down 14 percent]. All four counties backed President Obama in 2012.

Meanwhile, three counties that supported Republican Mitt Romney have seen heavy early voting — Warren [4,000 more votes, up 11 percent], Greene [400 more votes, up 2 percent], and Miami [1,000 more votes, up 6 percent].

Improvement in early voting leaves two big questions unanswered until elections officials actually count the votes Tuesday night — who are the early voters actually casting ballots for and to what extent are Republicans merely shifting their numbers away from Election Day?

Chris Young, national field director of the RNC, said the party is in a better position to turn out voters on Election Day itself. There are 7,600 organizers between paid staff and volunteers working on behalf of Trump. Volunteers now have knocked on 20 million doors, exceeding the RNC's goal of 17 million and smashing Romney's 2012 total of 11.5 million.

Trump and RNC officials downplayed the significance of reports that turnout of Hispanic voters is hitting record numbers in early voting. Officials said internal polling indicates the Trump's share of the Latino vote varies depending on the state, from the low 20s to as high as 30 percent in Nevada.

Bossie said enthusiasm clearly is on Trump's side, pushing Clinton into a defensive posture in the waning hours.

"Just in the last few days, Hillary Clinton has scrambled to defend states she thought she had locked up months ago," he said. "But a late-breaking surge of enthusiasm for Donald Trump is forcing her to make an unanticipated, last-minute defense of these states — particularly Pennsylvania and Michigan."

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