Pos­i­tive signs for can­di­dates in early bat­tle­ground vot­ing

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Hope Yen

WASHINGTON — Ad­vance vot­ing shows pos­i­tive signs for Hil­lary Clin­ton in two states that could help her lock up the pres­i­dency, North Carolina and Florida, as the elec­tion en­ters a crit­i­cal, fi­nal stretch.

There are also en­cour­ag­ing signs for Don­ald Trump in Ohio. That’s a vi­tal state for the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, but a vic­tory there would be only one of many steps he would need to win.

The lat­est data, rep­re­sent­ing 758,000 bal­lots cast — and mil­lions more re­quested — high­light Trump’s dif­fi­cult path to the White House.

And these num­bers may un­der­state his prob­lems: The fig­ures don’t re­flect voter re­sponse to the record­ing re­leased last week of Trump mak­ing crude re­marks about women.

Even if Trump can cap­ture two states he’s tar­geted — Ohio and Penn­syl­va­nia — he would need to pull off up­sets in mul­ti­ple Demo- cratic-lean­ing states to reach the 270 elec­toral votes in the state-by-state con­test for the pres­i­dency. If Clin­ton picks up states Repub­li­cans won in 2012, Trump’s task be­comes harder.

Ad­vance vot­ing has surged na­tion­ally as states try to boost turnout. Early vot­ing can be done by mail or in vot­ing booths that open be­fore the Nov. 8 Elec­tion Day.

More than 45 mil­lion peo­ple are ex­pected to vote early. While Democrats tend to do bet­ter in early vot­ing, Repub­li­cans usu­ally post an ini­tial lead with mail- in bal­lots be­fore Democrats sur­pass them when most in-per­son vot­ing be­gins in mid- to late Oc­to­ber.

In North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump, early vot­ers typ­i­cally make up 60 per­cent of to­tal bal­lots

At least 141,000 have been re­quested and 31,000 have been re­turned, ac­cord­ing to data. By party, Repub­li­cans had a slight edge over Democrats in bal­lots re­turned, 38 per­cent to 37 per­cent, or 300 bal­lots. At this point in 2012, Repub­li­cans had posted a 2to-1 lead, boosted by older white vot­ers. Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney nar­rowly won the state.

In Florida, a record 2.9 mil­lion peo­ple have re­quested bal­lots, or more than one-third of the to­tal vot­ers in 2012. Repub­li­cans are run­ning ahead in bal­lot re­quests, 41 per­cent to 38 per­cent.

Trump might be hold­ing steady else­where, such as Ohio.

Af­ter a record pace for weeks, the num­ber of bal­lot re­quests fell 2.6 per­cent from a sim­i­lar pe­riod in 2012.

The state does not pro­vide break­downs by party reg­is­tra­tion, but data com­piled by Michael McDon­ald, a Univer­sity of Florida pro­fes­sor who runs the.U.S. Elec­tions Pro­ject, show big­ger de­clines in re­quests in the heav­ily Demo­cratic coun­ties of Cuya­hoga and Franklin.

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