But we could also contextualize this by noting that at a similar point in 2016, Democrats had a 13.1-percentage-point lead there in early voting. In other words, Democrats are doing worse than they were at this point four years ago (and much worse than they were in 2012). Actually, with a week to go early voting is looking about the same as it did at the end of 2016 (when Democrats had a 9.8-percentage-point lead at the end), and that wasn’t a great year for them. For that matter, African American voters were 22% of the early electorate in 2016; at this point they are 20.5% of the electorate. That’s probably not what we would expect in a Democratic wave year when Republicans are being encouraged to vote on Election Day and Democrats are supposedly avoiding it.
You can see similar stories developing in Florida and Nevada, where you can make a case that things look roughly the same as they did about a week out from Election Day in 2016.
Of course, there are various rejoinders to all this. We might expect Republicans to vote against Donald Trump at higher rates than they did in 2016, and a critical mass of independents seems to have soured on the president. Maybe Republicans are using in-person early voting, cannibalizing their traditional Election Day vote. Perhaps the anticipated Trumpian improvement with African Americans and Hispanic will fail to materialize, and he’ll do worse than in 2016 with non-whites.