With one week still remaining until Election Day, Americans have already cast a record-breaking 66 million early ballots, putting the 2020 election on track for historic levels of voter turnout.
That’s some 19 million more pre-election votes than were cast in the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a turnout-tracking database run by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald.
McDonald calculates that nationally, voters have cast more than 48% of the total votes counted in the 2016 election.
“We continue to pile on votes at a record pace. We’ve already passed any raw number of early votes in any prior election in U.S. history,” McDonald told NPR on Monday.
“It’s good news, because we were very much concerned about how it would be possible to conduct an election during a pandemic,” he said, citing concerns that mail-in ballots would be returned by voters en masse at the conclusion of the early voting period, overwhelming election officials. “Instead, what appears to be happening is people are voting earlier and spreading out the workload for election officials.”
In 2019, McDonald predicted that 150 million people would vote in 2020’s general election, which would be a turnout rate of about 65% — the highest since 1908.
But he’s going back to the drawing board.
“I have increasingly been confident that 150 [million] is probably a lowball estimate,” he said Monday. “I think by the end of the week I’ll be upping that forecast.”
President Donald Trump loves to say that if Joe Biden wins the White House, stocks will crash, retirement accounts will vanish and an economic depression “the likes of which you’ve never seen” will engulf the nation.
But much of Wall Street is already betting on a Biden win — with a much different take on what the results will mean.
Traders in recent weeks have been piling into bets that a “blue wave” election, in which Democrats also seize the Senate, will produce an economy-juicing blast of fresh fiscal stimulus of $3 trillion or more that carries the U.S. past the coronavirus crisis and into a more normal environment for markets.
Far from panicking at the prospect of a Biden win, Wall Street CEOs, traders and investment managers now mostly say they would be fine with a change in the White House that reduces the Trump noise, lowers the threat of further trade wars and ensures a continuation of the government spending they’ve seen in recent years.
“The market is focusing on an end to the uncertainty around the Trump administration, and that in many respects is what underscores the pricing action around a possible Biden scenario and a blue wave,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at consulting firm RSM US. “Firms and investors crave stable expectations and that is how the Street is interpreting a likely Biden victory.”
Faced with record levels of U.S. coronavirus infections and a new White House outbreak, President Trump declared Monday that the pandemic was “ending anyway,” further tying his reelection bid to his ability to convince voters, including those at large rallies that defy health authorities, that the viral danger is fading.
President Trump, as a way of deflecting attention from his ongoing collusion with Russia, has been claiming for months that the Chinese government wants Joe Biden to win (possibly true) and is actively working to advance his election (almost certainly false). He has also been claiming that Biden is barely able to function (obviously untrue.) At a rally today, the two claims collided in an unfortunate way.
Trump launched a riff about how various dictators all don’t want Biden to win because he is too sleepy.
“The only thing I can tell you for sure: President Xi from China, President Putin from Russia, Kim Jong-un, North Korea, and I could name 40 others, they’re sharp as a tack. They don’t want to deal with Sleepy Joe,” he said. “One of them said to me, one of the leaders said, ‘We don’t want to deal with somebody that sleeps all the time.’”
The Associated Press reports that, while mail or in-person early voters totaled 58 million in 2016, give or take a few, mail or in-person early voters so far in 2020, with a week to go, total 58.6 million.
On Thursday, October 15, Democratic registered early voters outnumbered Republicans 51 percent to 25 percent. This past Sunday, Democrats were still at 51 percent, but Republican registrants had climbed all the way to 31 percent.
“Oh, noes!” shouted garment-render lolcat.
Lots and lots of young voters and new voters.
And, as the story points out, if most of the Trump supporters are waiting to vote in person on election day, they’re going to be standing in line for a long, long time.