- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Democrats are winning the early-voting battle in Nevada, Colorado and Florida, but both parties lay claim to supremacy elsewhere in an election where as many as 40 percent of ballots will be cast before Election Day.

Deemed a critical test of enthusiasm, early voting also allows campaigns to better target their Election Day get-out-the-vote efforts on those who haven’t cast ballots yet.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said more than 6 million people have already voted, including more than 1 million in Florida, where she was campaigning on Tuesday.

“I think you only see numbers like this when people are standing up for what they really believe in,” she said. “And that includes not just Democrats, but Republicans and independents coming together to reject hate and division, and I am so excited about what that means.”

Early in-person voting began there on Monday, and her campaign said registered Democrats outpaced Republicans by 24,000 votes. Turnout was particularly high in Democratic-leaning counties of Miami-Dade and Broward, and Democrats also said they’ve seen a 99 percent increase in the number of Latinos casting ballots this early.

In Nevada, Democrats had cast about 70,000 early votes to 48,000 for Republicans as of Tuesday. And in Colorado, where voters will cast their presidential ballots entirely by mail for the first time, nearly 118,000 Democrats had returned their ballots as of Tuesday, compared to about 94,000 Republicans.

In addition to Florida and Nevada, early voting has already started in a handful of other battleground states, including North Carolina, while in-person absentee voting is taking place in states like Iowa, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Republican National Committee said Democrats have to run out to a big advantage, since GOP voters typically show up on election day.

“You look at the numbers, where we are in terms of the early vote and the absentee ballots returned, I think it gives us a lot of optimism, whether it’s Florida, Ohio, Nevada or Iowa,” RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said on CNN’s “New Day.”

In Arizona, a Monmouth University poll showed Mrs. Clinton had a 10-percentage point lead among those who reported already voting. GOP nominee Donald Trump held an 8-point lead among voters yet to cast ballots.

In North Carolina, Mrs. Clinton had a 26-point lead, 63 percent to 37 percent, among those who’ve already voted, but only a 3-point lead overall, according to a survey by Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling.

To be sure, those surveys are samples of hundreds of people in states where millions are expected to cast ballots.

Mr. Spicer also said he didn’t even really consider Arizona to be a battleground state, and the RNC said there have been nearly 17,000 fewer ballots cast by Democrats in North Carolina during the first five days of early voting compared to four years ago.

“That enthusiasm gap that we hear about with Secretary Clinton in terms of young voters, minority voters — it’s starting to show up,” he said.

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