Is Hillary Clinton ahead? Early voting patterns in some key swing states don’t look good for Donald Trump

As many as four in every 10 voters may cast their ballots before election day

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The Independent US

The Hillary Clinton campaign is feeling buoyed by indications that Democrats are outpacing Republicans in early voting patterns in a few key swing states such as Florida and North Carolina.

Though in some other important states such as Iowa, where Ms Clinton campaigned on Thursday, and Maine, there are early signs of greater enthusiasm among Republicans, however. 

A record 40 per cent of Americans may cast their votes ahead of the 8 November election and in many states they have already started either requesting ballots or returning them completed. Some will be sent in by post or early voting in some states can be done in person.

With each election, the numbers taking advantage of either early or absentee voting provisions grow bigger, with significant consequences for the campaigns. The more votes each side can bank in advance, the less hard they have to work to drive turnout on election day.

It is also increasingly being used as a way for campaigns to gauge how their candidates are doing, especially in the handful of swing states that usually determine the winner. 

Experts warn against reading too much into the numbers. There will be no data on how people are voting until the night of election day itself. But it is possible to say which party’s registered voters are showing the most determination to vote early, which speaks of their enthusiasm.

No state may be more important than Florida, with candidates focused especially on the southeast around Miami and also along the so-called I-4 corridor further north, which includes Orlando and Tampa where the Hispanic population is fast growing. Although balloting in the Sunshine State only begins on Tuesday, an unprecedented 2.5 million people have already requested ballots. So far, Republicans are ahead in ballot requests, 43 to 38 per cent.

That, however, is a much narrower gap than was seen in 2008, the last election year for which complete statistics are available. Then, Republicans led requests 51 to 32 per cent and Barack Obama ended up winning the state by a narrow margin.

In North Carolina, which is also a key battleground, early voting ballots are already being returned and so far Democrats are leading Republicans by a healthy margin, according to data gathered by the Associated Press. 

 

 

Some voters in the state are citing recent attempts by the Republican-led legislature to limit early voting possibilities and strengthen voter ID laws, which so far have been thwarted by the courts as unconstitutional. “I want to make sure I don’t have to deal with issues at the polls on Election Day,” said Brandon Starkes, 28, adding that he was voting for Ms Clinton.

There are signs of a surge in requests for early ballots in Georgia, a state where Ms Clinton also hopes to do well even though in most recent elections it has gone Republican. 

Early voting in Iowa began on Thursday morning, explaining Ms Clinton’s decision to spend part of the day in Des Moines, its biggest and most liberal-leaning city. “You can go vote and we can be on the path to victory here in Iowa,” Ms Clinton told supporters in Des Moines, before asking: “Are you ready to go to the polls?” 

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, campaigned in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Wednesday. 

He used the rally to launch a scorching attack on Ms Clinton, once more calling her stamina and health into question in the wake of her bout with pneumonia that forced her to leave a 9/11 event in new York early and then kept her off the campaign trail for a few days in September.

“All those days off and she can’t even make it to her car,” Mr Trump told the crowd, referencing video footage showing her losing her footing as she tried to get back into her van in New York at Ground Zero.

Even though Mr Obama won Iowa twice, the polls for now are indicating that it is Mr Trump who has the edge in the state this time, thanks to his popularity with white, working-class men. 

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