All five votes cast in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, one of the first places in the country to cast, count and report its votes, have been called for Joe Biden this morning. The people of this small township near the Canadian border cast their votes shortly after midnight and announce their results hours before most polls open.
The population of the township is 11, according to the census website, and the after-midnight voting has been a tradition since 1960. Though the results aren’t necessarily indicative of how the rest of the country might vote — the township went to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was tied between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in 2012 — the township often leads the news because of its early morning voting tradition.
While the Dixville Notch results may be no more than a good omen for Biden today, the fact is that voter turnout is at a record high for this election. At least six states have already surpassed their 2016 voting numbers in the past few days, just from early voting, and seven other states were at 90 percent of their total 2016 turnout going into election day.
In Florida, for instance, where turnout is at 92 percent of total votes cast in 2016, Democrats have outpaced Republicans so far: Around 560,000 more Democrats have voted early or by mail than Republicans. These votes aren’t guaranteed for Trump or Biden, but registered party voters are expected to vote largely along party lines. Across the nation, over 100 million votes were already cast before the polls opened on election day, representing 73 percent of the total turnout in 2016.
Traditional knowledge says that the record-high turnout across many states is good news for Democrats, but an unusual presidency and an unusual election may throw that knowledge into question.
Dhrumil Mehta writes in FiveThirtyEight that nonvoters typically tend to be poorer, younger, women and nonwhite, which sounds like it can skew the results Democratic, but that “doesn’t account for how the makeup of nonvoters can vary pretty dramatically from state to state.” As the New York Times found, less-educated white voters were overrepresented in key states, which can swing an advantage back Trump’s way. Overall, both parties are more enthusiastic about this election than the last four presidential elections, by a margin of over 20 percentage points for each party.
Recent analyses conducted closer to the election show that in key areas like Georgia, Arizona, Florida and the midwest, early voters have skewed Black and young, which is usually favorable to Democrats.
The record-high turnout has occurred in spite of rampant and transparent voter suppression efforts across the country by Republicans, including repeated, unfounded disparaging remarks about mail-in voting by the president. Trump alone is responsible for dozens of remarks aimed clearly at getting fewer people to vote. The president has said that he will declare himself winner regardless of the results and hinted that he will refuse to leave the White House. He has openly called out the far right terrorist group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”; encouraged his supporters to harass voters at the polls; and admitted that his attempts to quash the United States Postal Service were part of his strategy to make voting by mail more difficult.
Trump has been greatly emboldened in his voter-suppression efforts by the Republican Party, which has been working actively to make voting less accessible by making it harder for voters to obtain absentee ballots (in Texas and five other GOP-controlled states); limiting the number of ballot drop-off boxes (in Ohio and Texas, among others); forcing people with felony convictions to pay all court-ordered fines before being allowed to vote in Florida, which could disenfranchise over 700,000 eligible voters; and filing lawsuits to stop vote counting early or limit the cutoff for mail-in ballots (Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina). Only some of these efforts have been successful.