Election Daily: What the early vote tells us

Maclean’s Bulldog, Nov. 4: Hillary Clinton may have hit the early voting jackpot in Nevada, but North Carolina isn’t as enthusiastic

Voters line up at a temporary voting location in a trailer in the Arroyo Market Square shopping center in Las Vegas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Voters line up at a temporary voting location in a trailer in the Arroyo Market Square shopping center in Las Vegas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Nov 4, 2016: The polls are starting to level out, which means, barring another major scandal (hey—anything could happen in this election) Hillary Clinton will be the odds-on favourite to win come Tuesday. Though perhaps she’s not as much of a favourite as she would like to be, the early voting numbers out of Nevada—a 50/50 toss up according to one polling analysis site—might calm her supporters’ nerves.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, can finally take some pleasure in watching CNN—the “Clinton News Network,” as he has dubbed it—and the changes to its electoral map that no longer say Clinton has enough “safe” or “likely Democrat” winning states to put her over the 270 electoral vote threshold. Indeed, she’ll need a toss-up state to fall her way.

Here’s our daily U.S. election Bulldog, a regular round-up of what you need to know about this day on the campaign trail. And get ready for Maclean’s contribution to U.S. election night on Tuesday—including a live Skittles map, a live-blog, post-election analysis, and much more. Subscribe to our Facebook page to be notified when we go live!

Getting out early

Friday was the final day of early voting in many states (some states have no early voting whatsoever) and while early numbers don’t say who Americans are voting for, per se, they do sometimes break down who votes by party registration.

With more than 37 million Americans having cast a ballot, some experts are urging people not to read too much into advanced voting numbers as a determinant of which candidate will win the state, but some states, like Nevada and North Carolina, tell an interesting story.

The early vote: Nevada

Registered Democrats are outvoting registered Republicans by 5.5 percentage points, according to the United States Elections Project, which is mining all the early voting data.

So what does this mean for Tuesday? Trump has some serious catching up to do, according to analysis from KTNV Nevada, especially considering more than half of all the ballots collected in 2012 were cast prior to Election Day. The reason? Clinton is expected to have about 90 per cent of her base vote for her, while Trump only has the support from 80 per cent of his base. If those numbers hold up—based on current advance voting data—Trump would need to win the independent vote to beat Clinton.

Can it be done? Well, Romney won the independent vote four years ago, but only by a seven-point margin. In other words, it’s not a smart bet.

The early vote: North Carolina

It’s been 60 years since a Republican has won the election without winning North Carolina. (For trivia buffs: the last Republican president to do it was Dwight Eisenhower.) This year appears to be no different, given the Republicans’ narrow path to victory: Trump won’t be in the White House without the Tar Heel state behind him. With more than 2.5 million voters having already cast a ballot, which is likely to be more than half of all the voters who will turn up altogether in the state, about 40 per cent of them were cast by registered Democrats and 30 per cent from registered Republicans.

But that might actually be a good omen for Republicans, seeing as they won North Carolina in 2012 despite trailing by 14 points after early voting. If anything, the new numbers could be a sign of diminished enthusiasm among Democrats for Clinton compared to Barack Obama.

Perhaps that explains why Obama was campaigning in North Carolina on Friday, trying to fire up locals to vote—while also trying his best to calm them down from shouting at a Trump supporter in the crowd.

Odds are … website-dependent

Despite all the recent polling favouring Trump, Clinton supporters could always take some solace in the fact that even if Republicans won battleground states North Carolina, Ohio and Florida, the Democrats still had more than the required 270 electoral votes in “safe” or “likely” Democratic states on the CNN electoral map.

That is, until today.

Several recent polls out of New Hampshire now have Trump tied with Clinton, meaning the state is no longer likely to go Democrat. It now considered a toss-up, and one where Trump was campaigning on Friday to boot. And with those four electoral votes up for grabs, Clinton only has 268 electoral votes leaning in her favour.

That said, for Trump to get elected, he would need to sweep all the current toss-up states: Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina. If not, he would need to pull off a surprise victory in Pennsylvania, Colorado, or somewhere where his chances are even lower.

So what are the odds of that happening? Depends on who you ask. According the Huffington Post election forecast, as of Nov. 4, Hillary Clinton has a 98 per cent chance of winning the election. The Upshot, a data-driven site of the New York Times, gives Clinton an 84 per cent chance of becoming president. Meanwhile at FiveThirtyEight, a highly-regarded statistical analysis website, her odds hover around 64 per cent.

All of which is to say, anything can happen—but odds are the polling numbers aren’t quite as favourable as Trump’s team makes out in its fundraising emails:

A bang up job (report)

With the final monthly jobs report coming mere days before the election, Clinton got some good news in that the current administration added 161,000 jobs and the unemployment rates dropped slightly.

While economists were expecting bigger gains in the job market, the news is just positive enough not to give Republicans any claim that President Obama isn’t creating jobs. And if Democrats are looking for something to boast about, they can always cite these numbers.

Trump was right to roadblock Christie’s VP desires

New Jersey Chris Christie made no qualms about showing his disappointment in being passed over as Trump’s running mate, bypassed for Indiana Governor Mike Pence. But while he was the first major Republican to support Trump’s campaign, the Bridgegate scandals were always looming over his head.

And while Christie himself wasn’t on trial, long claiming he had no knowledge of what was happening, two of his former aides were found guilty Friday morning for their role in lane closures on a busy bridge as political payback against a local mayor.

Trump likes to talk up his instincts. Looking back, passing on Christie as his running mate may have been his most important one in the campaign.

Not doing God’s work

While neither presidential candidate has outright called their opponent the devil, churchgoers at San Diego’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church got a frightening leaflet stuffed in their Sunday bulletin: “How to vote like a Catholic – it is a mortal sin to vote Democrat!”

The church said it had no idea how the insert found its way there, adding: “while we have a moral role to play in explaining how Catholic teaching relates to certain public policy issues, we must not and will not endorse specific candidates, use parish media or bulletins to favour candidates or parties through veiled language about selectively chosen issues, or engage in partisan political activity of any kind.”

An unfortunate typo

If Arkansas voters look carefully, they might see a hidden message in their ballot: Hilliary Clinton. Notice the extra ‘i’? Officials are claiming it’s an unfortunate typo. Others are claiming it’s a malicious way to spell out “liar” in Hillary.

“I’m sorry she’s upset,” an election commission representative told NBC News. “Nothing was done, I can assure her, to cause a defamation to Hillary’s name.” But that’s doesn’t mean they have plans to fix all the papers for Tuesday to spell her name properly.