Lost in the ruckus over Newt Gingrich shouting at Megyn Kelly last night (YOU SAY BILL CLINTON WAS A SEXUAL PREDATOR!) was the debate they had early on about early voting. Gingrich claimed the picture was all rosy for Donald Trump:
GINGRICH: Republicans are actually outvoting Democrats in Florida, they’re outvoting Democrats in Pennsylvania. That’s unprecedented. They’ve cut the Democratic lead —
KELLY: You predict a win in Pennsylvania?
GINGRICH: I think they might.
KELLY: Really? You think Trump’s gonna win Pennsylvania.
GINGRICH: Look, all I can report to you right now is, they’re outvoting the Democrats in early voting, uh, which is also true in Florida, which is unprecedented.
KELLY: All of the polls in Pennsylvania have her winning.
KELLY: All of the polls in Pennsylvania have her ahead.
GINGRICH:I know. I just told you, We have two alternative universes right now. In Iowa, for example, the Democrats are 50,000 votes behind where they were with Barack Obama in turnout. The governor is very confident we’re going to carry Iowa which Obama carried last time. I can just carry you through case after case like this.
Is he right? POLITICO says, on the contrary, things are looking bleak for Republicans in early voting (cached link) — including in Florida, where Republicans have a smaller lead at this point than they had in 2012:
In Nevada, where early in-person voting began on Saturday, Democratic voters cast 23,000 more ballots than Republicans as of Tuesday afternoon, good for a 15-percentage-point edge in the nearly 150,000 ballots cast. (Mail in and absentee ballots narrow the gap slightly).
Polling and early voting returns suggest Democrats are maintaining an edge in North Carolina, and they are also slicing into a thinner-than-expected early vote lead for Republicans in Florida, who now lead by about half a percentage point; in 2012, the GOP held a much more significant edge two weeks from Election Day. Women in Florida are casting early ballots in far greater numbers than four years ago, and Hispanic turnout is surging as well, according to data released by the Clinton campaign. Polls suggest that both constituencies are strongly Democratic this year.
In Colorado — where Democrats hold a voter registration edge for the first time — early returns give the party a 23,000-vote lead in returned and in-person ballots. In Arizona, which last went Democratic in 1996, Democrats held a thin early-vote lead on Monday.
As a reminder: Barack Obama won Florida in 2012.
As for Pennsylvania, I don’t know where Gingrich is getting his early voting numbers, as I can’t find a story reporting them. But Pennsylvania does not have early voting as a general rule — so any numbers Gingrich might have are a very small sample and not representative. What’s more, as Kelly points out, Hillary is ahead in all the polls there.
Newt has a point with Iowa. Things are looking OK for Trump there, and in Ohio. But, um, don’t get too excited:
Things do not look so rosy for Democrats in two other battleground states with heavy early voting: Iowa (44 percent of the vote cast early in 2012) and Ohio (33 percent in 2012). Iowa Democrats have always prided themselves on an outstanding early-voting operation, but they are running well behind their 2012 numbers. And in Ohio, which does not have party registration, the main danger sign for Democrats is lagging early voting in the big urban centers of Cleveland and Columbus.
Ohio and Iowa have been Trump’s two best battleground states. So while it is encouraging for his cause that he’s doing relatively well in early voting in those two states, it’s more significant that he’s doing not-so-well in Florida and North Carolina, both of which he badly needs to get to 270 electoral votes.
It looks like Gingrich was looking for optimistic data wherever he could find it, and putting a brave face on what is a dismal situation. He’s not a dumb guy, though, and he has to know the reality — and it had to be frustrating him as he was talking to Megyn Kelly.
No wonder he started yelling at her.