(CNN) — More people are participating in the snap election than ever. As of Monday afternoon, more than 60 million people had voted. The numbers not only exceed this point from 2016, but they exceed the total number of people who voted earlier that year.
While early voting cannot tell us the end result of this election, we can say that the data we are seeing so far on early voting is consistent with what the pre-election polls indicate.
In other words, nothing in the early voting data makes me doubt the pre-election poll data. This is a good sign for those who hope that the errors of the 2016 surveys will not be repeated.
Let’s start with the simple fact that many voters are attending. During more than a yearI’ve been arguing that we will see a record turnout. The reason is that many more voters than usual said they were excited and confident that they were going to vote in this election.
Our most recent CNN / SSRS poll, for example, found that 88% of registered voters said they would likely vote. That’s up from 83% in a similar CNN poll conducted in October 2016.
A model produced by FiveThirtyEight, based primarily on how enthusiastic voters say they are, is predicting the same thing. They have a participation that reaches 154 million people. That’s a little over 140 million voters in 2016.
As a percentage of the population eligible to vote, we could be seeing the highest turnout for a presidential election since 18-year-olds got the vote in 1971.
What the polls say about early voting
A side effect of high participation is that it has the potential to make surveys more accurate as well. Many problems in polls can arise when trying to find out which voters are most likely to turn out to vote. That is why polls tend to be less accurate in primaries and municipal elections, when turnout is lower.
It is easier to know if someone is a registered voter than if they are a probable voter. If turnout is higher, the universe of likely voters is more likely to match the universe of registered voters.
This year’s NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll, for example, hasn’t even released a likely voter outcome.
Turnout from places like North Carolina and Florida seems to be confirming another major trend in the polls: Republicans are much more likely to show up in person, while Democrats are more likely to vote by mail.
Democrats got a big advantage in voting by mail in Florida and North Carolina. The same has happened in other states like Pennsylvania.
But look at what’s happening in North Carolina and Florida, when comparing early voting in person in those states to voting by mail.
In both states, the in-person voting bloc is significantly more Republican-friendly than the portion of the electorate that votes by mail. In Florida, Republicans make up a larger portion of the first person voters than Democrats. This is the opposite of what we have seen in previous years.
Again, this generally fits the expectations of those who follow the polls.
I should point out that none of these facts guarantees that the polls are going to be right. In politics, the difference between 48% and 51% is all the difference in the world.
Still, the data we are seeing leads me to believe that we should not anticipate a voting error in one direction or another. If one occurs, it will be an undiagnosed reason.
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