No, NBC, Early Voting Data Show Unexpected Republican Strength

Key Senate races in such states as Tennessee, Montana and Florida are likely to be decided by turnout, and these numbers favor the GOP

An NBC data analysis of early voting trends in eight states finds on average 11.5 percent  more Republicans than Democrats casting ballots, most prominently in Tennessee’s showing twice as many red voters as blue.

But don’t tell NBC. The mainstream broadcast network seems determined to put a different spin on the numbers. The numbers analyzed by NBC were compiled by TargetSmart, a data services firm.

“GOP-affiliated voters have surpassed Democratic-affiliated ones in early voting in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas, the data showed,” NBC reported Monday. “Only in Nevada have Democratic-affiliated voters exceeded Republican-affiliated voters so far in early voting, according to the data.”

This means, NBC said, “the latest data suggests robust enthusiasm among early Republican voters that could put a dent in Democratic hopes for a ‘blue wave’ in next month’s midterm elections.”

But peer just a little deeper and the numbers actually suggest Republicans could be headed toward putting something much more substantial than a mere “dent” in the blue wave Democrats and media outlets like NBC have been heralding throughout the 2018 midterm election campaign. The average GOP margin for all eight of the states analyzed by NBC is 11.5 points.

Related: Caravan ‘Plays Perfectly into’ Trump’s Hands Ahead of November Midterms

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Tennessee is the most dramatic of the seven states where more GOP voters turned out for early voting because of the race between former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen (pictured above right) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for the seat retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is vacating.

The data showed 63 percent of the nearly 290,000 early votes were cast by registered Republicans, compared to only 30 percent by Democrats. “Other” accounted for the remaining 7 percent.

Blackburn (above left) leads Bredesen by 6.5 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics.com (RCP) rolling average of polls to date in the race, but such GOP strength in early voting could be seriously bad news for the former governor.

Similarly, the 11-point advantage of early Republican votes in Montana could herald an even stronger showing for State Auditor Matt Rosendale against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) than suggested by RCP’s current 3-point advantage for the incumbent.

In the Big Sky State, 46 percent of the nearly 88,000 early votes were cast by Republicans, a 17-point advantage over the Democrats. The unknown factor there, however, could be the 25 percent of the early votes cast by “Other,” presumably representing independents who have not yet made up their minds whom to support.

The Republican advantage in the remaining five states included 11 points in Arizona, 6 points in Florida, 9 points in Georgia, 12 points in Indiana and 10 points in Texas. Nevada, the lone state with more Democrats in early voting, showed a 7-point difference.

In reporting the data, NBC claimed “Republicans typically dominate early voting by absentee ballots, while Democrats tend to have the advantage with in-person early voting.”

But Last Refuge, a conservative blog, disputed that, saying, “This is historically false. Republicans usually vote much heavier on election day than Democrats; and Democrats have always relied upon pre-election day voting to carry them.”

And earlier this month, The New York Times reported that “for a change, Democrats seem set to equal or exceed Republicans in turnout.”

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