There is a terrific scene in the movie “Gettysburg” where Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (played by the less than sane Jeff Daniels) is in command of Little Round Top on Day 2 at Gettysburg. The Rebels have been coming up the hill at them all day, and Chamberlain’s Maine regiment is out of ammunition. But they have been instructed they cannot abandon that position, or the entire Union line will cave in and the South will win. As the Confederates prepare another assault, Chamberlain convenes a council with his commanders and concludes they can’t shoot, and they can’t run. So there is only one option: charge. In a scene that still sends chills up my back, Chamberlain almost looks deranged as he screams the command, “BAYONETS!” announcing the charge down the hill.
The scene was accurate. While there is some question as to who came up with the idea of the bayonet charge, it succeeded and saved Day 2 for the Army of the Potomac. In his reasoning for the charge, Chamberlain says, “They gotta be tired. The Rebs gotta be tired. They’ve been coming up that hill all day.” In other words, they were spent.
In early voting, especially in Florida and North Carolina, we are nearing that moment, anticipating the Democrats are, once and for all, spent. So far, they keep comin’
In yesterday’s Vote By Mail, the Democrats continued to add ballots—at a rate of about 3% per day. A poster to www.freerepublic.com, “SpeedyinTexas,” has been working off assumptions based on 81% Democrat turnout and 2016 numbers that put the Democrats’ target for VBMs at a lead of 653,000. That would overcome the 2016 Trump advantage and the anticipated Republican lead in “In-Person Early Voting” (i.e., walk-ins or IPEV) of 359,000. That number would constitute 55% of the Democratic lead and would make the final lead for the Democrats by election day of 294,000. This number, Speedy argues, Republicans can overcome on election day with a 2016 level turnout.
What happens if they “keep comin’?” If they continue to hold a pace of 3% per day, the Democrats would hit the turnout rate of 84%. Such a turnout would be hard for Republicans to overcome. Moreover, the VBM ballots provided, but not yet voted, are 1.2m for Democrats and 926,000 for Republicans, so in ballots still outstanding the Democrats can extend their lead. And, if current trends continue, Republicans would fall just short of their 359,000 goal by about 10-15,000. Analyst Nate Silver, however, has argued that the Democrats need to reach a 70/30 split by election day to have a chance: right now it’s 54-49 returned ballots. That is well short.
Probably a more realistic final turnout will be 82% R and 79% D, which would be an R advantage of 70,000 votes. Again, none of this accounts for Democrats voting for Trump, or Republicans voting for Biden. But I think the weight is on the side of the former. Consider Miami-Dade County which is heavily Hispanic. The D/R Hispanic split yesterday was a mere 1,000 votes (and again, many of these Florida Hispanics will be voting for Trump). Today Miami has a 28% R turnout—unheard of.
But is it “BAYONETS!” time? In-Person Early Voting has just begun, and already Republicans have increased their lead there to 58,000—a shocking 14,000 just this morning! And there are three more points related to Florida: first, many Republican counties did not open until today; second, it appeared that Monday some Democrat counties added extra drop boxes, and lastly the Miami In Person Early Voting numbers (which should be overwhelmingly Democratic) are a shocker: Ds 35,383, Rs 31,799! --A good source for IPEV is the website “joeisdone”--. There is an interactive map with each county’s changes.
On to North Carolina, where again Democrats led in VBM and in-person voting by 49% to 22% just five days later that lead dropped to only 44%-27%. Today the number is 43.7% to 27.5% R. The final 2016 numbers were 38% D and 33% R, so North Carolina is moving in the right direction. Astoundingly, already North Carolinian's have cast 2.16 million ballots, or 45.5% of the 2016 turnout. Almost certainly North Carolina will exceed 50% of all ballots cast as being cast before election day.
And the same with Georgia, which has been at it with early voting since October 12. Georgia is up to 45.9% turnout of 2016! with 1.9 million ballots cast. The black share of the vote in Georgia, once touted as a game-changer, has plummeted from 34.4% before early voting to just 29.8% today. In 2016, it was 27.8% at the end of early voting, so the black share seems on course to come in well below that. This is in keeping with a YouGov poll today that has Joe Biden only getting 78% of the black vote, Trump with 13% (right where I put him), and obviously a stay-at-home or Kanye West factor of 9 points. This is staggering. No Democrat can win any marginal or battleground state with these numbers. And “yut” voters (18-24)? Way down. Just 5.1% in this cohort have voted—when, due to the closed campuses, need to be up 30% by election day. This is a shocking shortfall of 31% in this group.
In Wisconsin, the key number is the Dane/Milwaukee axis where the percentage of the vote has declined from 32.3 yesterday to 30.7% after only one day of in-person early voting. In 2016, this share was 25%. Looks like that share of the vote will be lower this time.
Finally, a similar trend is developing in Nevada, where the Republicans beat Democrats in early voting in Clark County on Tuesday by about 3,000 out of 30,000 cast. This seems to be a trend. Despite the impressive number of early North Carolina and Florida VBMs, it appears the Republicans have shouted in unison . . . “BAYONETS!”
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s history of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and founder of the Wild World of History history curriculum website that features a full US and World History curriculum for grads 9-12 including teacher guide, student workbooks, tests/answer keys, images/graphs/maps and videos for all lessons (www.wildworldofhistory.com).