Positive signs for candidates in early battleground voting
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.