Hillary for America [HFA] Campaign Manager Robby Mook provided an update to reporters on a conference call Thursday about voting trends in the battleground states with one month to go before the election.
HFA has concentrated on voter registration since the summer, and in person voting has already begun in states across the county, including Iowa, Minnesota and some counties in Wisconsin. In Ohio, the last day to register to vote is Oct. 11, with early voting commencing the next day, Oct. 12. According to reports from Ohio’s chief elections officer, more than 957,000 absentee ballot applications have been received by county boards of elections ahead of the Nov. 8 election, accounting for about 35,000 more requests compared to same point ahead of the 2012 General Election.
Secretary of State Jon Husted said the applications include almost 15,000 requests from military and overseas voters that were sent out late last month. So far, 247 have been returned statewide. HFA notes that with more than 40 percent of the electorate in key states likely to vote before November 8, the next few weeks will have nearly as much impact on the outcome of this election as Election Day itself.
Robby Mook said this election is making history in a couple of ways. The first he aspires to happen will be that the first woman will be elected president, a second first is the record ratings for debate waters, and the third one he’s certain of is that more voters will cast ballots than ever before, as he predicts voter turnout this year will be higher than 2012. Expectations of increased early voters is already past what he thoughts would be the case. Early indicators are in, he said, and they show turnout is up, especially in key battleground states, as measured by requests for absentee ballots
That understanding also holds true for key demographics groups, especially Latinos, Mook said, adding that he expects at least 40 percent of votes will be vote before election day. More people will vote early by mail or in person than ever before. States like Nevada, North Carolina and Florida could be decided before Election Day. “That’s encouraging our supporters to vote early…we could build an insurmountable lead in those states before Election Day,” he said. HFA has focused on young people, especially Millennials, who he said will be the largest voting block. “Young people will be the decisive and deciding vote.” At the same time, other core coalition groups, including African-Americans, women, Asian-Americans and Latinos are seeing excellent turnout numbers across thee map.
Mook attributed the good numbers for Democrats and Hillary Clinton to hateful and divisive rhetoric from Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who continue to provide them with increased motivation to vote. When Donald Trumps berates a former Miss Universe over her weight or Pence stumbles on race, as he did in his lone debate Tuesday with Clinton VP pick Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, it only “reminds and motivates our supporters to turnout to vote.”
Mook ran through several data points that he said, without doubt, show voting will be up to record highs. Starting in Florida, where Clinton is ahead of Trump by six points, 2.7 million Floridians have requested vote my mail forms, which is a 50 percent increase of the 1.8 who did so in 2012. “We are winning the daily incoming vote by mail with more Democrats than Republicans” voting early. Hispanic voting in Florida is up 77 percent compared to this time in 2012; that figure is 80 percent among Asian-Americans in the Sunshine State.
Twice as many Democrats are voting in person in Iowa as are Republicans, he said, noting since early voting started there last week, Democrats are returning three-times as many ballots as Republicans.
In Ohio, especially in vote-rich Cuyahoga County, where Republicans held their national nominating convention this year and where President Obama won by 38 percent over Mitt Romney four years ago, 1 of 6 ballot requests are by Democrats.
In Virginia, home state for Sen. Kaine, Mook said early voting is at historic turnout levels, especially in Northern Virginia, where 31,000 in-person or by mail votes have already cast.
In Minnesota, he said more than 39,000 have cast ballots already, which amounts to about 40 percent of early voting. In neighboring Wisconsin, turnout in Democratic strong holds like Milwaukee is strong.
Mook said its actually fairly easy for HFA to project out the entire electorate based on early voter turnout numbers. “We’re able to get good indications before Election Day,” he said, adding that some supporters who may be less likely to turnout are recognize far early to contact than waiting until Election Day arrives. “The more that turnout early, the fewer we have to talk to on Election Day,” he said, noting it’s “less about the raw number and more about lower propensity supporters that we’ve gotten to cast their vote early.” The ground game is the game, he said, and in that department, Team Hillary is doing better than Team Trump in exploiting the advantage of early voting.
Based on the first debate between Trump and Clinton, which she won by all reliable accounts, Mook expects Trump to come more prepared, now that reports say New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is lending help for debate preparation. As for the townhall format, Mook thinks its perfect for Mrs. Clinton who excels in such situations versus Trump who is new to them. Moreover, Mook said Clinton already has specific plans, while Trump doesn’t, which will be apparent when unfiltered questions are asked. “We have command of any issues enough to explain how she’ll make a difference,” he said, planting expectations that Trump may again not be steady and “unravel or unwind” as he did an hour into the last debate.
While Republicans have historically won the early vote my mail process in Florida, Mook said he doesn’t expect to overtake them, but he does expect to close that historical gap, noting that Obama won the state last time. What he is confident about, though, is HFA’s advantage to actually turnout voters. “We are turning out more of our low propensity voters than Republicans,” eh said, observing that winning elections is about winning in the margins.
He cautioned about reading too much into voter registration numbers, as they are change as election officials process new voters or voters who have changed addresses. He said voter registration rolls are becoming more diverse and bodes will for Democrats and Hillary Clinton.
With hurricane Matthew bearing down on Florida, Mook said the campaign’s first concern is that people are safe and will heed public officials’ warnings to seek shelter or evacuate. Beyond that, he said campaigning will resume when that’s appropriate. He sent a message to Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and other Florida officials to adjust deadlines if need be to accommodate voters in the wake of storm damage. He wants people who were expecting to get registered to vote before the election to have time to do that, and he hopes “local officials will make that possible” Asked about Weather Channel advertising, which he said makes up less than 1 percent of the campaign’s ad buy time, “We have asked the Weather Channel to roll back that buy until the storm is gone…We don’t think voters need election ads to get mixed up with storm information.”
Asked about voting in Colorado, Mook said the campaign’s top priority is to make sure anyone who has moved to or within Colorado gets their registration updated, now that it’s easier to vote in Colorado than almost any other state. “We do believe that a lot of our supporters move around a lot, like younger people, and we have an extra burden to be in touch with them,” he said, noting that HFA has hundreds of GOTV staff and resources to make that happen.
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