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Really interesting stats from CNN poll

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Besides the top line number — Biden leading Trump by 12, with almost no undecideds — here’s the first substantive polling I’ve seen on early voting, which is going to be an overwhelmingly important factor in this election:

Barring major changes in the landscape in the final days of the race, Trump’s chances for closing the gap are deeply dependent on Election Day turnout. The poll finds that among those who have already voted (64% Biden to 34% Trump) or who plan to vote early but had not yet done so at the time they were interviewed (63% Biden to 33% Trump), Biden holds nearly two-thirds support. Trump leads 59% to 36%, though, among those who say they plan to vote on Election Day.

The reason this is so significant is that of 45 minutes ago at least 75 million people had already voted. (Note that in Texas an incredible 91.2% of the final 2016 voting total has already been cast via early ballots). Over the last two weeks the average number of early votes has been just over four million per day, so we are probably looking at something in the neighborhood of 95 million early votes, not counting ballots that are mailed in/dropped off on Election Day itself (If you haven’t voted please check your state’s rules regarding how late mail-in ballots can be accepted. In Colorado for example they need to be received by Election Day — postmarks don’t count — so if you’re here and haven’t voted yet, you need to drop your ballot off in any of the many official ballot boxes available for this purpose).

Even assuming extraordinarily high turnout, 95 million votes is going to be far more than half the final vote total, and note that per this poll Biden is leading among early voters by a greater margin than Trump is leading among Election Day voters. Also too, a vote that has already been cast for Biden is obviously far more valuable than a vote that is “going” to be cast for Trump on Election Day.

Also obviously, the distribution of votes is ultimately crucial, there’s no room for complacency etc. But this is still very good news overall.

Here are some other demographic breakdowns from the poll:

The demographic chasms that have defined the nation’s politics in the last four years remain in place. Women break sharply for Biden, 61% to 37%. Among men, it’s a near-even split, 48% for Trump and 47% for Biden. Voters of color support the Democrat by a nearly 50-point margin, 71% to 24%, while White voters split 50% for Trump to 48% for Biden.

Those near-even numbers among men and among White voters mask significant divides by education among Whites and by race across genders. Women of color (77% Biden to 21% Trump) and White women (54% Biden to 45% Trump) both break for Biden, as do men of color (64% Biden to 28% Trump).

White men, however, favor Trump by 56% to 41%.Those with college degrees favor Biden by 30 points, while those without degrees split evenly. Among White voters, the difference is larger. White voters with college degrees favor Biden 58% to 40%. Those White voters who do not hold a four-year degree are a mirror image, breaking 58% for Trump to 40% for Biden.

Among those White voters with degrees, the gender gap is relatively small, but it is a yawning 38 points between White women without degrees (49% Biden to 49% Trump) and White men without degrees (68% Trump to 30% for Biden).And seniors, who shifted in the Democrats’ direction in the 2018 election, are solidly in Biden’s corner in this poll. Overall, 55% of likely voters age 65 or older back the Democrat, 44% Trump. Biden also leads by a broad margin among voters under age 35 (68% Biden to 30% Trump), while voters between the ages of 35 and 64 are split about evenly between the two candidates (48% back each candidate).

I’ll note that all the stories about what is constantly characterized as the surprising level of support for Trump among non-white men (28%) just highlights what “support” means in this context: Imagine a candidate losing white voters by a 64% to 28% landslide, but having that level of “support” described as surprisingly good!

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