Saturday, November 05, 2016

Hillary builds a wall, too

With early votes in battleground states.

The word of the day is "firewall."[...]

Jon Ralston, the savviest political analyst in Nevada, used the term "firewall" to describe the early vote margin Democrats seem to be running up in that state. As of Friday morning, he figured Democrats had banked a 37,000-vote margin. "So he can win Nevada," Ralston wrote Friday morning. "But Trump would need base numbers and indie numbers that seem unlikely right now." Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, told reporters on a conference call that the campaign figures Trump would have to win Nevada by 10 percentage points on Election Day to overcome her advantage there.

I don't consider Ralston all that savvy after this episode from two years ago, but hard data is one of those things that is difficult for almost anybody to screw up.  And that's really why Clintonoids should breathe easier: there are over 30 million votes already in the can, and we don't have to rely on an admittedly shaky Nate Silver to tell us what to think any longer.

In Florida early voting, Democratic strategist Steve Schale sees further positive signs for Clinton, specifically a marked uptick in Latino voting. "The two places with the highest Puerto Rican populations, Orange and Osceola counties both out-performed their projected share of the statewide vote," he wrote Friday morning. Florida Hispanics are typically thought of as being Cuban, but Puerto Ricans have been migrating to the state in great numbers in recent years. More broadly, Schale wrote, Hispanic voting patterns so far are the "definition of a surge." It should be obvious, but is worth noting anyway: Hispanics aren't turning out in greater numbers to vote for Donald Trump. Schale goes on to add: "Right now, Democrats hold a 117K vote advantage among all low propensity voters, in large part due to this Hispanic surge. 32% of Democratic voters so far are low propensity voters, compared to 26% of the GOP voters. But among [no party affiliation voters or NPAs], the number rises to 48%. That's right, 48% of NPAs who have voted so far are low propensity – and 25% of those are Hispanic. In fact, of the NPA low propensity voters, a full 42% of them are non-white. That right there is the Clinton turnout machine edge." Reminder: Turnout is important, even if Donald Trump doesn't seem to think it is. Mook told reporters that the campaign believes it's leading in Florida by around 170,000 votes overall and said that at this time four years ago, the Obama campaign figured that it was behind by 15,000 votes. (Obama won the state, narrowly.) Schale sums up: "All of this has me leaning a bit that the state is shaping up nicely for HRC, but while I think that, in no way is it in the bag, or close to it."

The Hispanic surge isn't confined to Florida. Per Talking Points Memo's Lauren Fox, the polling firm Latino Decisions reported early Hispanic voting "is up 100 percent in Florida, 60 percent in North Carolina and up 25 percent in Colorado and Nevada." See my previous comment about Hispanics and Donald Trump. Fox adds: "Latino Decisions is estimating – using their own turnout predictor – that Clinton is on track to capture 79 percent of the Latino vote. Trump, on the other hand, is expected to garner only 18 percent (almost 10 points down from Romney's 27 percent performance.)" Remember that Trump's theory of winning through running up the white vote doesn't only motivate white voters. The backlash could well end up benefiting Clinton in a big way.

North Carolina is IMHO the true decider for both president and Senate in 2016.  Black turnout was reported soft in North Carolina (and Florida and Ohio as well) earlier this week, and there have been serious efforts by the Republicans in charge to stifle the vote there.  So I see the Tar Heelers being decided very late on Election Night.

Across the country, Mook told reporters Friday, early voting is breaking records. And for whatever it's worth, the Clinton campaign sees itself as having "leverage[d] this early voting period to build a firewall in states with early voting to turn out our supporters early and build up a lead that Donald Trump is incapable of overcoming."

Bloomberg's Mark Niquette and John McCormick took a broader look at early voting. "Donald Trump is showing strength in Iowa and Ohio pre-Election Day voting, while Hillary Clinton's advantage in early balloting looks stronger in North Carolina and Nevada, a Bloomberg Politics analysis shows," they wrote. Hold on there, Robert, my target audience responds, this post is supposed to soothe my nerves but you just quoted someone saying Trump looks strong in Ohio. The key point as we hurtle toward Nov. 8 is that given the state of the electoral map, Trump needs to look strong in all the contested states. If early voting carries Clinton to victory in Nevada (see Ralston above) and North Carolina (which my colleagues Dave Catanese and Seth Cline described on Friday as her ultimate firewall) the game is over.

Whoa theyah, podnah; it ain't over 'til it's over.

It's called being ahead, which Clinton still is. It may be a narrow lead, but it's a lead nevertheless, and with the days dwindling it's better to be front-running than trying to play catch-up.

The Comey Effect may have run its course, and any further late-breaking developments such as this are too late to move the needle.  But if the Senate does not flip, that will be added to the foundation for impeachment proceedings in 2017.

A fresh Senate forecast is coming shortly.

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