Election Day indicators: Bellwethers to watch

We’re hours away — at best — from finding out who will serve as president for the next four years, but we can watch for bellwethers to see how the winds are blowing in the meantime. Early voting data doesn’t tell us how voters filled out their ballots, but we can get a good idea of which voters have already made their choices. Allahpundit already offered up his analysis of North Carolina’s numbers, but the data from the RNC on other states offers some reasons for optimism.

  • Florida – GOP trails by 87,000, but that’s improved from 168,000 in 2012.
  • Arizona – GOP up 95,000 in returned absentee ballots.
  • Colorado – GOP up 7,000 in returned vote-by-mail ballots.
  • Iowa – GOP trails, but have outpaced 2012 while Dems trail their 2012 figures by 20,000.
  • Ohio – More complex data from the RNC here. Four counties that supported Obama in 2012 and 2008 (Cuyahoga, Franklin, Summit, and Hamilton) have seen a combined dropoff of 109,000 early votes from four years ago. Three GOP counties have seen modest increases — Warren, Greene, and Miami, but combined it adds up to 5,400 additional votes. Overall, early voting in Ohio increased by 11,000, which suggests that Democrats have lost ground in the Buckeye State.

Hamilton County is one of the seven counties featured in Going Red as bellwethers for the general election. Most of these same counties can be watched in Slate’s VoteCaster analysis, which is crunching early-vote numbers by county. Keep a couple of caveats in mind while reviewing this: Democrats tend to overperform on early voting, and these numbers marry early-vote counts to polling projections. No ballots have been counted yet, either. With those caveats in mind, this is where those counties stand with VoteCaster at the moment:

  • Hillsborough County, Florida — Mitt Romney lost this I-4 Corridor county by six points. Right now, Hillary appears to be leading 50.9/42.7 in the early vote. If that bears out, then Trump will need a huge burst of Election Day voting to make up the deficit.
  • Hamilton County, Ohio – Thanks to a bad graphic placement, the data from the county is obscured, but it’s marked blue — not a great sign for Trump, but possibly a narrow margin here.
  • Wake County, North Carolina — VoteCaster isn’t tracking North Carolina, but overall the GOP has cast 115,000 more ballots than in 2012, while the Democrat total has dropped by 20,000.
  • Brown County, Wisconsin — Trump narrowly leads 47.3/45.2. Republicans have to run up the score by ten points or more in Brown in order to win. (Bonus: Waukesha looks solidly Republican, but the data also runs outside of the border.)
  • Jefferson County, Colorado — Hillary leads 48.4/42.3.
  • Hillsborough County, New Hampshire – No data at all.

We’ll add in a few Pennsylvania counties as well. These actually look more promising for Trump:

  • Bucks County — Hillary leads 49.3/43.6, but Obama barely won this county in 2012, 50/49.
  • Berks County — Trump is way up 52.7/39.8, and Romney only barely won here, 50/49.
  • Lackawanna County — Hillary has a two-point edge here, 47.8/45.8; Obama won 63/36 in 2012.
  • Luzerne County — Obama won 52/47, but right now Slate’s VoteCaster shows Trump way up, 52.5/40.9.

Pennsylvania is at least within reach for Trump. We’ll see if he can convert this into an Electoral College surprise.

As the evening progresses, keep an eye on these counties for hints of where the race might head. Also, be sure to join us on Townhall’s Facebook page, where I will anchor our Facebook Live coverage tonight.