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Analysis: Why early vote trends can't tell you who will win

October 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Hundreds of people wait in line for early voting on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Marietta, Georgia. Eager voters have waited six hours or more in the former Republican stronghold of Cobb County, and lines have wrapped around buildings in solidly Democratic DeKalb County. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

You've seen the pictures of early voting lines out the door. You may have read the stats of the high number of voters requesting absentee ballots. All of this is certainly consistent with the long standing belief of record turnout in 2020.

Still, you should be very careful trying to translate early and absentee voting statistics into trying to understand whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden is going to win the presidential race.

The problem is that the same polls indicate that there will be a massive difference between the percentage of Biden and Trump supporters who will vote early.

And indeed, nothing we're witnessing in the early vote so far suggests that the polls are off.

Trump got 51% to Biden's 47% in the poll overall, despite Trump losing by 28 points among early likely Florida voters.

Mainly, you have no idea who is going to turn out on Election Day. Looking at the early vote to understand who will win in 2020 is kind of like looking at the score of a sports event halfway through without knowing what sport was being played.

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