The Morning Jolt

Comey: After Further Review, the Ruling on the Play Stands, No Prosecution.

Okay, everyone, switch your positions on FBI director James Comey again.

FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Sunday the agency hasn’t changed its opinion that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new emails.

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen.

Every Democrat who thought Comey was a “mad bomber,” compare him to Jesus-meets–Eliot Ness again. Republicans, declare the whole investigation “rigged” again — even though an FBI director who wanted to “rig” an investigation to ensure Clinton won the presidency wouldn’t let the world know he was investigating her e-mails again for nine days during the early-voting period.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus responded by pointing out she’s not cleared on every allegation of criminal behavior yet:

The FBI found evidence Clinton broke the law, that she placed highly classified national security information at risk and repeatedly lied to the American people about her reckless conduct. None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president.

Has Hillary Clinton Already Built Up an Insurmountable Lead in Nevada?

Legendary political reporter Jon Ralston seems adamant that Nevada is unwinnable for Trump — and with that swing state firmly in Hillary Clinton’s column, the presidency is all but lost already. How firm is that assessment?

(For the sake of simplicity and readability, I’m rounding all numbers to the nearest thousand.)

Let’s go over some basics: Last cycle, about 1 million voters cast ballots in Nevada. Obama won 531,000 and Romney won 464,000 — a 52 percent to 46 percent split, a difference of 67,000 votes. Of those 1 million votes, a bit over 700,000 voted early.

Four years ago, 308,000 registered Democrats voted early, absentee or by mail.

Four years ago, 260,000 registered Republicans voted early, absentee or by mail.

Democratic advantage: 48,000 votes.

Assuming the same proportion of registered Democrats voted for Obama as registered Republicans voted for Romney, then Romney went into Election Day needing to make up a deficit of more than 48,000 votes — with just 300,000 people voting. If absolutely no one voted third party, Romney needed to win those remaining votes by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin. Obviously, he didn’t, and he lost the votes cast on Election Day by about 19,000 votes.

This year, 324,000 registered Democrats voted early, absentee or by mail.

This year, 278,000 registered Republicans voted early, absentee or by mail.

Democratic advantage: 46,000 votes.

Assuming the same proportion of registered Democrats voted for Clinton as registered Republicans voted for Trump, then Trump goes into Election Day needing to make up a deficit of more than 46,000 votes.

(Yes, some will argue that more Democrats voted for Trump than Republicans voted for Clinton. Okay, say Trump is getting 16 percent of Democrats and Clinton is getting 11 percent of Republicans, as the 8 News Now poll shows. This means 52,000 registered Democrats voted for Trump, and 31,000 registered Republicans voted for Clinton. We can take 21,000 out of the Democrats’ margin . . .and Democrats still head into Election Day with an advantage of 25,000 votes.)

“Ah, but what about the independent or unaffiliated voters?!” Trump fans will cry. Well, in that 8 News Now poll that has him doing so well among Democrats, he’s still barely winning voters in the “other” category, 40 percent to 39 percent. The NBC News/Marist poll has him winning independents, 45 percent to 38 percent — but that poll shows just 7 percent of Democrats defecting to Trump, and 4 percent of Republicans defecting to Clinton. This year, 167,000 Nevadans who aren’t registered Republicans or Democrats voted early. Assuming Trump is ahead by seven percentage points among that group, he gains . . . 12,000 votes.

Let’s assume a really rosy scenario for Trump: 16 percent of Democrats vote for him and 11 percent of Republicans vote for Hillary, and he wins the independent/other voters, 45 percent to 38 percent. This means Democrats walk into Election Day with “just” a 13,000-vote margin.

In 2016, Nevada has 1.4 million registered voters; 694,821 haven’t voted yet. Trump would need to overcome that 13,000-vote margin out of the people who come out Tuesday.

In other words, the broad contours of Ralston’s argument are hard to dispute. Democrats walk into Election Day with roughly the same advantage in registered turnout in the early vote that they had in 2012, and that year they won overall by about 6 percentage points. Trump needs an unbelievable performance among Election Day voters and a lot of crossovers and to win among independents by a solid margin. It’s a tall, tall order.

What the Early-Vote Numbers in North Carolina and Florida Tell Us

The early voting numbers in the two key east-coast swing states look better for Trump than the numbers in Nevada, but they still point to a really close result.

In North Carolina, 3.1 million voted early. In that group, 41.7 percent were registered Democrats, 31.9 percent were registered Republicans, and 26.1 percent were independent.

The 2012 split was 47.4 percent Democrats, 31.5 percent Republicans, 20.9 percent other or independent — and Romney won by 2 percentage points overall, about 92,000 votes.

Who are all of those new independent or unaffiliated voters casting ballots for? Pick your theory:

Some analysts speculate that unaffiliated voters, who are younger than the general voting population, are more likely to vote for liberal candidates. At least one has noted that about half of North Carolina’s unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the primaries, and the majority of those chose to vote on Republican ballots, suggesting that may be their true party preference.

Is there a drop-off among African Americans? Yes, but it shouldn’t be overstated. Statewide, African-Americans make up 22 percent of the early vote; four years ago, they made up 27 percent.

There are some corners of the state where African-American turnout is probably going to increase. Bertie County is the most heavily-African-American county in the state, and last cycle Obama won the county with 66 percent of the vote. In 2012, 4,420 ballots were cast in early voting. This year, 5,356 voters cast ballots early.

In 2012, Obama won Wake County, which includes Raleigh, 54 percent to 44 percent — a 54,000 vote margin. This year, “Wake County surpassed all of its prior early voting turnouts, with more than 302,000 residents casting their ballots in the 2016 general election; the previous early voting turnout record was 260,743 in the 2012 general election.”

In Florida, more than 6.4 million people have voted already. About 2.55 million are registered Democrats, 2.46 million are registered Republicans. Democrats have an advantage of about 87,000 votes. The good news for Trump is that the CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday has him winning independents 47 percent to 34 percent.

Don’t sleep on Georgia, where the state’s overall early vote is 23 percent higher than in 2012. Fulton County is the most populous county in the state and includes the city of Atlanta. Sunday Fulton election officials announced a record early vote — 260,934 residents voted early in the 2016 general election — two-thirds of last cycle’s total vote. The early vote is 109,000 more than four years ago. Four years ago, Obama won the district, 64 percent to 34 percent, a nearly 115,000-vote margin.

This morning, Quinnipiac released their last polls of these two key states:

Florida: Clinton gets 46 percent to Trump’s 45 percent, with 3 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and 1 percent for Green party candidate Jill Stein.

North Carolina: Clinton at 47 percent to Trump’s 45 percent, with 3 percent for Johnson. Clinton had 47 percent to Trump’s 44 percent November 2.

ADDENDA: There are a lot of states that no one focuses upon too much, because the state’s electorate skews so heavily to one party that we already know who’s going to win. It doesn’t matter if Trump wins Kansas by 5 points, 10 points, or 50 points, he still gets the same 6 electoral votes.

But we know the national popular vote has a big psychological effect, and it’s conceivable that Trump will run up his totals in his best states.

One Morning Jolt reader in Kansas noticed a huge turnout in this deep-red state:

I thought I would share what happened to me last night when I went to early vote. I went, on a Friday night, at about 6 p.m., and it was jammed. I have gone past the facility several times this week in the evening, and the police have blocked off a lane to allow traffic to enter and exit the parking lot. When I left last night, I stopped and chatted with the cops who were guarding it, and asked if they had ever done this before. No, nothing like it had ever been done before; early voting was insane. They actually suggested that we might see record turnout in Kansas this year, as they had heard similar stories from other locations, and one of them hypothesized that we may not know the results on Tuesday night, as there will be more votes to count then there have been in any previous election.

Obviously, this is speculation from a couple of cops in a suburb in Kansas, but nevertheless, this place has been processing them like crazy. For days.

And I thought I’d share one other tidbit. A coworker has a son who is a junior in high school this year. His history teacher, a rampant Democrat, asked the kids whom they would vote for. He expected one answer. 96 percent said they would vote for Trump. This is an upscale high school in suburban Kansas City, and one of the wealthier counties around, but nevertheless, that’s a rather astounding response from high school kids. I was a senior in 1972, and I know my class would’ve been 96 percent for McGovern.

The data confirm my reader’s assessment:

As of Friday afternoon, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, more than 375,000 ballots in Kansas had already been cast, either at advance polling locations or mailed in to county election offices.

That’s already 20,000 more advance ballots than the total number cast in the 2012 presidential race. And there were still another 60,000 mail-in ballots that had been sent to voters requesting them but not yet returned Friday afternoon, with three and a half days left before Election Day.

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