Early voting has begun in many states across the U.S., including California. Perhaps voters are anticipating long lines at their polling places on November 8 or perhaps they are simply anxious to cast a vote and put this grueling election behind them. Whatever the reason, numbers of early voters appear to be up. On October 17, the first day of early in Georgia, thousands of voters lined up to cast their ballot, with more than 1,000 people voting in the first three hours of the day in Cobb County alone. Ohio and California are also experiencing large numbers of early voters. The LA Times reports that in Ohio, which is traditionally viewed as a must-win state for any Republican candidate, the Trump campaign is doing very little to court early voters. And in California, officials report seeing a higher number of early ballots compared to recent elections. More than 800,000 vote-by-mail ballots were requested by Orange County residents, about double the amount requested in 2012.
So what does all this early voting enthusiasm mean? With early votes making up as much as 75% of all ballots cast in important swing states like North Carolina, it means a lot. A candidacy with a strong ground game that mobilizes voters and gets them to the polls can take a strong lead before November 8. While there’s no hard and fast rule to suggest early voting benefits one party over the other, in this election there are indicators that early votes may favor Democrats.
Clinton is a staunch supporter of voting rights, including pushing for the repair of the Voting Rights Act. She adamantly opposes attempts to limit voter’s rights, such as the (overturned) voter ID law in North Carolina and the automatic registration of voters when they turn 18. Her stance on voting rights, coupled with a superior ground game than the Trump campaign has thus far been able or interested in building, could hint at early leads in crucial swing states. Whether or not those leads will hold come November 8 is another story.