Although the numbers are preliminary, they offer a glimpse of the Democratic buzz ahead of the elections and warn Republicans. While the Democrats keep their votes in store and recruit new supporters, Trump’s campaign is looking for a smooth turnout on election day at a time of spiraling out of control pandemic and mounting financial crisis.
“A ballot is a ballot, and no late campaign news or event takes it off the count,” said Chris Wilson, a GOP pollster who specializes in data and analysis. “The bottom line is that Biden has a head start in the post and the risk of something going wrong late is borne by the Republicans because our constituents haven̵
Republicans acknowledge that the Democrats built a head start, although some insisted it was early on, comparing it to a basketball team that won the opening tip. Trump aides argue that Democratic advantage will make little difference in the end, saying the opposing party is only summoning voters who would otherwise have voted on November 3rd.
They also note that while Trump has repeatedly beaten up mail-in votes – which practically ensures that most of his supporters cast ballots in person on election day – the Democrats place a high value on it. A poll by NBC News / Wall Street Journal published last month found that nearly half of Biden’s supporters wanted to vote by mail, compared with only about a tenth of Trump supporters.
The Trump team points to special Congressional elections earlier this year in the red-toned New York and Wisconsin boroughs where Republicans lagged behind in postal voting but had a significant advantage with and in the voters who cast their ballots on election day won both competitions.
“The majority of our voters prefer to vote personally. We therefore believe that we will lag far behind on absenteeism as the Democrats have made it their business to push for an all-mail election that will add fraud and chaos to the system. You will see Democrats voting mostly by mail, and our voters will come out in droves to vote in person, “said Mike Reed, a Republican National Committee spokesman.
But the data also shows that Democrats in states that narrowly lost them in 2016 are attracting small but potentially significant numbers of new followers.
In Pennsylvania, which Trump won by just 44,000 votes four years ago, the Democrats have built a head start of nearly 100,000 nominations from voters who did not vote in the 2016 election but are preparing to mail it this year, according to TargetSmart to vote. In Michigan, where Trump won by less than 11,000 votes (and where voters don’t register by party), the company’s model shows that democratically-minded voters have an advantage of nearly 20,000 people among non-2016 voters who voted for register to receive voting slips. In Wisconsin, which Trump won by 22,000 votes, Democratic voters who skipped 2016 put nearly 10,000 more motions for that election than their GOP counterparts.
Republicans also encourage supporters to vote absent. Through phone calls, digital advertising, and mailers, they’ve got Trump supporters to vote early or through the mail. America First Action, the pro-Trump outgroup, has since been in contact with voters to ensure they cast their ballots.
Yet Trump – much to the frustration of senior Republicans – has undermined those efforts by repeatedly attacking mail-in votes. The president has used his recent public appearances and Twitter feed to view the email voting as a process that cannot be trusted.
“It’s about what Trump actually says, far more important than what his campaign does. The campaign is working hard to request absenteeism and return soon. But Trump, who does repeated mail voting, makes it much less likely for strong Republicans to do so, “said Wilson.