While Democratic strategists fret over voter complacency, actual Democratic voters are filled with the anticipation of a kid during the holidays.
“Last night felt like Christmas Eve,” said Tony Lewis, 39, to The Washington Post. Lewis showed up at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville at 8:30 AM sharp Tuesday on the very first day of in-person voting. “I just wanted to get out and be one of the first ones to cast my vote to hopefully end the insanity we are living in under the current administration.”
Now that's what I'm talking about. The Post reports that roughly 15 million Americans have already voted a little less than three weeks out from the election. In fact, the early voting is so robust that a majority of voters may have already cast their ballots by Election Day. In Michigan, for instance, more than 1 million people have voted—that's equal to almost a quarter of the size of the state’s 2016 electorate. Plus, so much of that early voting is happening in person that it could yield election results sooner than many election officials had anticipated. A girl can dream!
The downside is, many many voters—and particularly voters of color—have faced hellacious hours-long waits to vote. That's not a bug, that's a feature Republicans have implemented to suppress Democratic votes in states where they control the government. But voters seem more determined than ever to make sure they aren't robbed of their power to effect the outcome of the election. Remember when former First Lady Michele Obama told everyone at the Democratic convention to get on their comfortable shoes, pack a brown-bag snack, and "be willing to stand in line all night if we have to?"
Here's that plan in action:
While it's always tough to know whether early voting is just an exercise in cannibalizing the vote that would have materialized on Election Day, Democrats do appear to have the enthusiasm advantage among voters who are casting ballots early.
"Of the roughly 3.5 million voters who have cast ballots in six states that provide partisan breakdowns, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 2 to 1, according to a Washington Post analysis of data in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania," writes the Post.
At the very least, those are votes Democrats can take to the bank while focusing their get out the vote efforts on a smaller group of people who haven't turned out yet.
Plus, Black voters and women have accounted for a disproportionate amount of early voters, according to the data. Both groups heavily favor Biden. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Biden up by 87 points with Black voters and 26 points with women.
Certainly some of the Democrats' early vote advantage is in part due to partisan preference though. The most recent Post/ABC News poll found that 64% of Biden's likely voters planned to vote early while 61% of Trump's likely voters said they would vote on Election Day.
But for many Democrats, early voting is a statement. Victor Tellesco, a 50-year-old from Phoenix, had planned to vote by mail but got concerned by all the mail delays. Instead, Tellesco showed up to vote for the first time in his life, and he did so on the first day of early voting in Arizona. “Four years of Donald Trump is enough for me,” he said, noting that his blood pressure soars every time he sees Trump on TV. “It just made me feel like I needed to vote this year. I don’t know why I’ve never voted before. But this year, it feels like I needed to vote.”
Amen. Vote. Vote early. And get your friends and family to vote early—particularly if you have any young voters in your immediate circles. While Black voters and women have been turning out in disproportionately high numbers, young voters have been on the low end.
In Georgia, for instance, nearly 40% of first-day voters Monday were Black, and some 56% were women, based on state election data. Yet fewer than 9% were 18- to 29-years-old.
One of those voters was 39-year-old Everlean Rutherford, who waited 10 hours to cast her ballot. “I really wanted to make sure that my voice was heard and that my vote was counted,” she told the Post. “I want to see a change in this country. I have three Black sons, young sons. We need to make sure that the world that we leave for our children is a better world.”