I see Trump winning Florida and North Carolina because he sharply improved on Romney's performance in the early vote in both Florida and North Carolina. One sour note for Trump in early voting results, however, came in Nevada, where masses of Hispanic voters turned out to help build the Democratic early vote firewall. According to Jon Ralston, it's an insurmountable lead.
But despite the alleged effectiveness of the increased Hispanic turnout in Nevada, the increased turnout among Latinos did not achieve the same result in Florida and North Carolina. That is not a surprise in North Carolina because the Hispanic vote is not that large. In Florida, however, Hispanic turnout was up dramatically, but the lead in Florida after the early vote period is only 0.5%, far less than Obama's 3.7% early vote lead in 2012.
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We know that the Hispanic vote was up dramatically in Florida, up by 4.4% as a share of the total vote in the state. At the same time, blacks dropped their share of the total vote 2.8%, while whites were down 2.1%. One might view this as a good sign for Democrats, as a suggestion that perhaps the surge of Hispanic support would deliver the state. This is not clear, in fact, it seems unlikely.
In spite of this Hispanic surge, Democrats early vote lead in Florida is down 87% as compared to 2012, when Romney only lost by less than a percentage point. Republicans are known to vote in heavier numbers on election day everywhere, although they do it less so in Florida. It seems reasonable, however, to assume that Trump has a bank of votes in the panhandle sufficient to offset the comparatively tiny early vote lead for Democrats.
Two explanations exist for the failure of the Hispanic surge in Florida to give Hillary a comfortable early vote firewall. Either reduced turnout in the African-American and millennial vote explains it, or Trump is cannibalizing his election day vote more so than Republicans normally do.
If Republicans were voting substantially more during the early period than they have in the past, however, it is likely that the white share of the early vote would not have decreased by 2.1%. This is because whites make up around seventy percent of the total vote, and a spike in their early vote turnout would much more readily show up as a share of the total vote. It's simply a matter of magnitude. We know that typically blacks vote early because of the Democrat GOTV efforts, and Republicans wait until election day. For these reasons, it looks likely that the drop in the black vote best explains why the Hispanic surge failed to deliver for Democrats.
In North Carolina, the Hispanic share of the vote is much smaller than in Florida or Nevada. Overall, as a share of the total vote, Democrats' share of the
early vote dropped six percent in North Carolina, Republicans held steady and Independents increased by just over five percent. On the face of it, it seems reasonable to conclude the some new Trump voters are showing up in the group of Independents, at least more than Independents likely to vote for Clinton. Trump has been winning Independents in most polls lately.
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The drop in Democratic turnout almost certainly correlates to reduced voter intensity among blacks and millennials. North Carolina is a liberal millennial rich state, and this drop in the Democrat's share of the early vote could correlate to their reduced interest in voting for Clinton. We have evidence that both millennials and blacks have tuned this election out or are not motivated to vote for Clinton.
Combining this evidence with the early vote shortfalls for Democrats in Florida and North Carolina, we can probably conclude that the intense battleground state campaign the Democrats have employed may not have worked to get critical elements of their vote out.
This brings us to Pennsylvania and Michigan. For analytical purposes, these two states are much closer to North Carolina than Florida, but they potentially offer more promise for Trump than even North Carolina where Republicans are still strong. This is true because of the existence of the older white working class voter who the Democrats abandoned in years past, but Republicans have only now decided to seek.
The Republican establishment has always spoke fondly of Reagan-Democrats, but they really never understood how to appeal to them. McCain had some potential, but the historical nature of Obama's campaign glossed over many potential weaknesses in the Democratic coalition. Also, the housing crisis sunk any chance that Republicans might have had to pick off those disaffected voters. In 2012, the GOP ran Mitt Romney, a candidate seemingly designed to repel the white working class voter in Pennsylvania. Romney was a Michigan native, but his blue-blooded nature swamped any chance he might have carried his home state.
Now we come to 2016, the blue collar billionaire makes a real play for this voter. He has catered his message specifically to this voter, eschewing the elite within his party, condemning them for their condescension toward the white working class in the form of arrogant blind adherence to globalist trade policies.
The polls in Pennsylvania and Michigan are within the margin of error. Some polls show Trump leading or tied. The last poll to come out showed the two within 0.4% of each other. The media, academia, Hollywood and the Democratic establishment has so viciously attacked not only Trump, but those who might support Trump, that they have likely spoiled the polling pool in such a way that accurate results are difficult to obtain. No doubt should exist that at social stigma attaches to support for Trump.
We saw decreased black and millennial turnout in battleground states where Democrats ran major campaigns to get out the vote over several weeks in Florida and North Carolina. It seems fair to conclude that Democrats will have difficulty turning out that same black and millennial demographic in Pennsylvania and Michigan where they have only one day to vote.
For the above reasons and because the polls are close, I think Trump can pick up Michigan or Pennsylvania, perhaps even both.