US Elections 2016: Final countdown

27 million cast early votes, with mixed news for Clinton

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to supporters at a pub in Miami, Florida, on Oct 30, 2016.
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to supporters at a pub in Miami, Florida, on Oct 30, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO • More than 27 million people have already voted in the US presidential election, and early trends are offering some hints of the outcome before polling on Tuesday.

Six days before the election, voters had cast 6.7 million more early ballots compared with the same period in 2012, the data analytics firm Catalist said.

The numbers hold both good news and bad for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as she battles Republican Donald Trump in a tightening final dash for the White House.

Early voting tallies indicate that Democrats are turning out in greater numbers than Republicans in some states, an advantage for Mrs Clinton, experts say. But the turnout is lagging among young people and African Americans, key constituencies that lifted Mr Barack Obama into the White House in 2008.

In Chicago - the President's adopted hometown and the US' third-largest city - however, there is little sign of the enthusiasm deficit reflected in national polls. Early voting here is on pace to match or exceed 2012.

"It's very important to me to carry on what Obama started," said Democrat Deborah Land, 61, at an early voting station in Chicago.

That kind of sentiment should help Mrs Clinton, who has cast herself as Mr Obama's loyal heir, by driving Democrats to the polls.

Last week's surprise revelation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into Mrs Clinton's e-mails again has injected renewed uncertainty into the race.

Associate Professor Michael McDonald of the University of Florida said it is unlikely to sway early voters as "people have consumed a lot of information about the candidates and they've made up their minds, and they're going out and voting".

So far, there are signs of enthusiasm among early voters who are Latino, women and white liberals.

"The worrisome signs for (Mrs Clinton's) campaign are the lower early voting rates for blacks and young people. They were essential pieces of the coalition that elected and re-elected Obama," said University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden.

Mr McDonald said Mr Trump faces bigger hurdles, including Mrs Clinton's early vote lead in the swing states of Nevada, Virginia and Colorado. He added: "That's almost like checkmate because Mr Trump would have to win almost every other battleground state."

On top of that, Latino voters overwhelmingly support her, with a record 27.3 million of them eligible to vote in this election - four million more than in the last presidential race, said the Pew Research Centre.

"Compared to 2012, it appears that early voting is being used more by Latinos," Prof Burden said. "This might reflect the inroads that the Clinton campaign has made into the Latino community and concerns among Latinos about what Trump has said about immigrants."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline '27 million cast early votes, with mixed news for Clinton'. Print Edition | Subscribe