Florida is sort of a must win for both candidates. Without Florida, Donald Trump cannot win. If Hillary Clinton loses Florida it is likely a harbinger of a lot of bad news brewing for her in the rest of the country. Everyone is looking at early voting for a hint of how the state will look after the polls close next Tuesday. Up until two days ago, the Democrats were crowing about early voting putting them ahead in Florida. As it turns out, this was wild optimism.
Based on the votes cast so far in Florida, Democrats should be spooked. Well, so should Republicans for that matter, since the voting points to a razor-thin, too-close-to-call race.
The good news for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is that pre-Election Day voting by Hispanics has soared. The good news for Donald Trump and Republicans? White voters also are voting in big numbers and two key voter groups for Clinton — African-Americans and voters under age 35 — have not been turning out as they did in 2012.
African-Americans accounted for 22 percent of the votes cast before Election Day in 2012, but only 15 percent so far this year.
Eight days before Election Day 2012, Democrats had cast about 13,000 more votes in Florida than Republicans. As of Monday afternoon, Republicans had cast nearly 9,000 more ballots than Democrats.
This is bad news in all respects for the Democrats.
First, there is an assumption that the Hispanic vote will tilt to Clinton. In Florida, where Senator Marco Rubio is leading the obvious poseur the Democrats have as a candidate by 7 points among Hispanics, this implies that Hispanics are going to split their vote in substantial numbers. It might happen but smart money wouldn’t bet on widespread ticket splitting which is why the GOP is worried about Trump pulling down weak incumbents.
The seven point drop on black early voting and a similar drop in voters under age 35 is also significant. These are two demographics that are the least likely to show up to vote on Election Day. If they don’t vote in the early voting period then odds are a substantial number of them will not vote.
When you roll the losses and uncertainty in core Democrat demographics with the fact that there is a swing of 22,000 votes (R -13K in 2012 to R +9K today) the picture is one of a looming electoral disaster. And the full impact of the latest FBI investigation was not registered in early voting so the worst news is yet to come.