Don’t celebrate too soon. Early votes don’t reflect the final election results

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Voters cast their ballots at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles over the Halloween weekend. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for KCRW

More than 50% of eligible California voters — roughly 11 million — have already cast their ballots, according to Political Data Inc. The earliest voters lean older, whiter and Democrat, but political analysts warn against reading too much into that.

“Early votes aren’t reflective of the total vote,” says Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc. “In the past, it was always the Republicans who were voting early. And so the early results would always advantage Republicans. We have now an electorate where the early vote is going to be heavily skewed Democratic.”

In California, early votes will be counted first, skewing very Democratic. The poll vote will be counted and reported later in the night, skewing more Republican. In other states where counting is done differently, Mitchell says there will be the opposite effect.

“In three key states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — they're going to have to count the in-person vote first, probably giving Trump a huge lift with those voters,” he says. “They cannot legally start processing that vote by mail and counting it until election night into Wednesday.”

The bottom line? Whoever you’re cheering for nationally or locally, don’t celebrate too early.

“The election isn't official until they've finished what they call the canvas period, which is the process of going through and tallying all the votes,” he says. “We shouldn't have people declaring victory prematurely.”

Credits

Guest:
Paul Mitchell - Vice President of Political Data Inc, a bipartisan voter data firm; former Democratic political consultant - @paulmitche11

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel, Kathryn Barnes