segunda-feira, 7 de novembro de 2016

The Guardian view on America’s choice: Don’t vote for Trump. Elect Clinton / Record-breaking early voting fuels Democratic optimism

The Guardian view on America’s choice: Don’t vote for Trump. Elect Clinton
Electing Donald Trump would mean conservatism off the leash, a deepened racial divide and a less safe planet. America and the world deserve better

Monday 7 November 2016 16.34 GMT

It is make your mind up time for America. A hopeful, incrementally better, boats-against-the-current United States; or a US flirting with a dystopia from the pen of a Stephen King or Cormac McCarthy? A serious but flawed Democratic candidate; or a Republican whose election would be the sum of all fears? That’s the choice, the only choice, on offer.

If we had a vote, we would use it to elect Hillary Clinton as president on Tuesday. She has a thoughtful and ambitious policy agenda for America’s inequalities and injustices. She has an internationalist outlook. She has responded to concerns about her cautious centrism by committing to more radical plans. She is eminently prepared and qualified for the job. She is a fitting successor to Barack Obama. And it is high time there was a woman president.

To these can now be added the fact that, as of Sunday, she is no longer under investigation. The announcement, just over a week before polling, that a new batch of emails was being investigated was, at best, an extraordinary misjudgment by the FBI director James Comey. It triggered nine days that needlessly shook US politics, narrowed the polls and may have shaped the election. Now the bureau has said Mrs Clinton will face no further investigation or charges over her use of a private email server. Mrs Clinton bears a share of responsibility for bringing this storm on herself. But the essential fact is that she is in the clear.

The thing that stares Americans in the face on a close-fought election day, however, is that the only alternative to Mrs Clinton is Donald Trump. It needs to be said again, at this fateful moment, that Mr Trump is not a fit and proper person for the presidency. He is an irascible egomaniac. He is uninterested in the world. He has fought a campaign of abuse and nastiness, riddled with racism and misogyny. He offers slogans, not a programme. He propagates lies, ignorance and prejudice. He brings no sensibility to the contest except boundless self-admiration. He panders to everything that is worst in human nature and spurns all that is best.

Mrs Clinton is far from perfect. But Mr Trump plumbs the depths of imperfection in ways that have no precedent in frontline modern American politics. All countries from time to time produce leaders who are ignorant or vain or who lack intellectual judgment or personal grace. But Mr Trump is the first candidate to get so close to power who has no experience of the practicalities of politics and government, and who does not seem to care about them either. If he is elected president it will send the worst possible message to America about itself, and an even worse one to the rest of the world.

There are three particular ways in which electing Mr Trump is a step that should be spurned by any responsible American voter. First, it would mean a rightwing president governing with a rightwing Congress. Mr Trump and the Republican establishment have many differences, but they would find no difficulty cutting taxes for the richest or sparking an aggressive trade war with former partners. They would ensure, as a priority, that the conservative majority is restored on the supreme court. Progress on civil rights and equality would be thrown into reverse. Abortion rights would be under threat.

Second, Mr Trump’s election would be, and would be seen as, a victory for white America over African, Hispanic, Asian and other American ethnic groups. In this campaign Mr Trump has campaigned against migrants, insulted Muslims, stereotyped black people and disrespected Mr Obama at every turn. He has been backed by every white racist in the land. Race remains America’s deep foundation sin, and Mr Trump will deepen it.

Finally, electing Mr Trump will make the world an even less safe place. It will threaten US commitment to international institutions, including the UN, and support for international norms. It will contribute to instability and set back efforts to solve environmental problems. It will encourage autocratic leaders in places like Russia, China, Turkey, North Korea and elsewhere. It makes the nurturing of the planet more difficult and the future of the human race more uncertain.

For all these reasons, Americans should summon a special level of seriousness and display a profound responsibility when they go to the polls. Anything other than a vote for Mrs Clinton is a vote for conservatism off the leash, a deepened racial divide and a more dangerous planet. The time for messing is over. America deserves much better than Mr Trump. So does the world. Mrs Clinton is much better. So elect her.

Record-breaking early voting fuels Democratic optimism
More than 46 million votes have been cast before election day.


More than 46 million votes have been cast in advance of U.S. Election Day, breaking records in state after state and suggesting the prospect of a heightened Hispanic turnout that could upend politics in several battleground states.

While there’s no way to know whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is ahead, the available data about who has voted so far, and where, provides some insight into what the results might hold. There are signs of an unusually diverse electorate, marked by robust Hispanic numbers in places like Florida and Nevada. Women seem to have turned out in disproportionately high numbers in some states. In others, Republicans appear to have made late gains.

Here are five storylines that have emerged from the early voting period:

A Latino turnout surge

Democrats had been muddling through the early voting periods in Nevada and Florida. Then in the final days, black and Latino voters flooded polling places, fueling Democratic optimism in both states.

“Just since last week, the percentage of the electorate that’s white has gone from 71 then over the last few days from 68.6 to 68.0, to 67.4, to 68.8,” Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale wrote in an early vote analysis on Monday. “Since Thursday, there has been no day when the electorate has been more than 61% white. This is the Clinton recipe for winning.”

Through last Wednesday, according to University of Florida early vote expert Daniel Smith, more than 429,000 Hispanic voters had cast ballots at in-person voting locations. That’s a 158 percent increase from the same period four years earlier.

And Nevada – once considered one of the most Trump-friendly of the battleground states – may be out of reach for Republicans on Election Day. Surging Latino turnout in populous Clark County – where some polls stayed open hours passed their closing time to let voters in line finish casting ballots – helped drive up the Democratic vote margin over the weekend, if Trump is doing as poorly among Latinos as some polls suggest. That Clark County scene prompted an angry rebuke from state GOP chairman Michael McDonald at a Trump rally Saturday. McDonald, opening for Trump, said the polls were kept open late “so a certain group could vote.”

The African American vote in North Carolina is a different story. There, analysts say that black voters have been disproportionately affected by restrictions on early voting and a tightened early vote schedule. Still, black voters managed to narrow the disparity with 2012 turnout in the final days of the race, comprising increasingly bigger shares of the total ballots each day.

An uptick in unaffiliateds

It’s a nearly universal trend.

Unaffiliated voters made up a greater and greater share of the early electorate across the country — in particular in North Carolina and Florida, in an election where the nominees of both major parties face sky-high unfavorable ratings. In North Carolina, through Thursday, a quarter of the votes cast were from unaffiliated voters, up more than 40 percent over 2012 totals at the same time, according to data posted Sunday by Michael Bitzer, an expert on the early vote at Catawba College.

In Florida, according to Schale’s number-crunching, voters without party affiliation made up about 22 percent of the vote through Monday morning. That’s about 1.4 million votes.

While that development makes it harder to divine which candidate is leading, Michael McDonald, an early vote expert who runs the U.S. Elections Project, said there are signs that Clinton stands to gain at least some from unaffiliated voters. Many of them, he noted, are younger and members of minority communities — constituencies that lean left.

“In Florida, part of this has to do with age,” McDonald said. “Younger people tend not to affiliate with a party. In Florida, Latinos tend not to affiliate with a political party.”

In North Carolina, a surge of white women hitting the polls has included many who don’t affiliate with either party, a potentially worrisome sign for Trump, who faces an enormous gender gap.

A New York Times Upshot/Siena analysis found Clinton leading with unaffiliated voters in North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania.

“You can look at these demographics of these folks, I can tell you for sure it’s not a surge of older white men making up the unaffiliated,” McDonald said. “In comparison to 2012, there’s more white women than white men among unaffiliateds, and African-Americans, there are some, and other persons of color. Don’t think of these as monolithically white males, that’s wrong, don’t think of them as independents, because independents tend to break more Republican than unaffiliateds.”

“This now adds a big monkey wrench into trying to do the forecasting,” he said, “Which way are the unaffiliateds going to go?”

Republicans came alive near the end

It might be too little too late to change the electoral calculus, but the GOP has shown late signs of life in states expected to go to Hillary Clinton. They’ve overtaken Democrats in Colorado. They were ahead of pace in North Carolina and limited Democrats’ advantage in Florida from a greater 2012 edge.

In other words, last month’s bombshell FBI decision to reopen the review of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information appeared to have stoked more Republican enthusiasm—or at a minimum, coaxed some reluctant Republicans to rally behind their nominee. And FBI Director James Comey’s Sunday announcement that he stands by his decision not to bring charges against her came too late to change the early vote math.

In Colorado, where Republicans were expected to hold an early voting lead as they did in 2012, Democrats consistently held an edge over Republicans until this past weekend. Democrats began last week with a 31,000 vote lead in ballots returned but by Monday morning, Republicans had surged ahead by 7,000.

In Iowa, Democrats had been building their early vote lead as well, clawing their way a bit closer to their 2012 edge of 68,000 votes. But over the last week, that growth stopped abruptly. Last Monday, Democrats led by about 43,300 in votes returned. By the day before Election Day, that edge had shrunk slightly to 41,900.

Women are dominating the early vote

Up and down the Eastern seaboard, women are voting at disproportionately high rates, and are outperforming their 2012 turnout numbers. Close observers of the vote in places like North Carolina, Georgia and Florida believe that many of the women voting early are supporting Clinton — or at a minimum, opposing Trump, who confronts a yawning gender gap.

In Florida, according to numbers provided by the University of Florida’s Daniel Smith, women comprise about 52.8 percent of the electorate, but 56.5 percent of the population that’s voted by mail, and 53 percent of the early in-person vote. Overall, they’ve contributed about 55 percent of the state’s early vote as of Thursday.

Florida has expanded its access both to voting by mail and, in many counties, in-person early voting since 2012, but by both measures the female vote is up. By comparison, 45 percent of the early in-person vote comes from men, and 42 percent of the mail ballots are from men, both slight downticks from 2012.

“If we take a closer look, where we’re really seeing women overperforming is among Democrats and no-party affiliateds,” Smith said. “I think that’s largely a function of the Trump effect. If there’s anyone who’s energized by not having Donald Trump be president, it’s women and minorities, especially Hispanics. I think that’s where we’re seeing the real bump from 2012 in participation.”

White women are also voting at higher rates in states like Georgia and North Carolina, McDonald said.

In North Carolina, which has especially good data available, there were 55,050 more women overall who had voted five days out from Election Day than there were in 2012, he said. As of Sunday, votes from women made up 55 percent of all votes cast so far in North Carolina, according to Catawba College’s Bitzer. Of that total, 46 percent were registered Democrats, 30 percent were registered Republicans and 24 percent were unaffiliated.

The Democratic female vote total was expected to continue to rise as Democrats sought to compensate for restrictions on early voting that, experts say, disproportionately affected more liberal-leaning areas.

There is also good news for Republicans: As of Thursday morning, there were 44,578 more Republican women than in 2012, while the Democratic number was around 6,900.

As for unaffiliated women in North Carolina, there were around 90,000 more than the number who voted in 2012 as of Thursday.

2012 déjà vu

The shape of the 2016 early vote has more than a passing resemblance to 2012. That’s good news for Democrats but bad news for anyone — including Trump — who expected a dramatic reordering of the electoral vote landscape.

“The map looks a lot similar to 2012 and if Trump’s going to pin his hopes on the election, it’s got to be that he’s got a large number of Democrats voting for him,” said McDonald of the U.S. Elections Project.

That’s because early voting patterns in states like Florida and Nevada — both of which Obama won in 2012 — resemble those of four years earlier.

This time around, Democrats held a crushing 73,000 vote lead in Nevada’s Clark County – the heavily Democratic population center that includes Las Vegas — when early voting concluded. That’s greater than Obama’s 2012 edge there, a huge cushion against modest GOP leads in the more rural areas of the state.

Even Florida, the quintessential swing state, is returning to form. After two weeks of early voting (which ends this Sunday) and more than 6.4 million votes cast, Democrats barreled past Republicans in early votes over the weekend and ended with a lead of just over 1 percentage point. Schale noted that his own model predicting the state’s raw vote count recently produced a dead tie.

Like Florida, Ohio is close, and still a mystery. While Trump has held a modest but consistent lead there in polls, an overhaul of the early voting schedule — and Ohio’s lack of traditional party registration methods — prevents a clear comparison with 2012. Democratic turnout slipped in crucial strongholds like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, giving hope to Republicans who say Clinton lacks enthusiasm in the crucial swing state.

But Democrats note that Ohio has eliminated “Golden Week,” an early vote period that allowed residents to register and cast ballots at the same time. That may have pushed more reliably Democratic voters to turn out later, they argue. And by the end of the day Monday, early voting in Ohio eclipsed by 11,000 the total early vote in 2012. In all, 1.8 million ballots have been cast, and Democrats say they’ve made up ground they lost in Cuyahoga with a surge in voting in Franklin County, which includes Columbus.

In North Carolina, Democrats are nervous that flagging African American turnout could keep the state in the Republican column for the second straight presidential election. Clinton has consistently led by narrow margins in most polls of the state, but African American early vote turnout fell nearly 9 percent off its 2012 pace.

Clinton allies argue that’s a direct result of efforts to limit early voting opportunities in the state’s urban areas – McDonald says North Carolina is the only Southern state keeping track that saw a decline in African American participation.

In Iowa, one of Trump’s stronger battleground states, Democrats have nudged their totals a little closer to their early vote margins in 2012, when Obama carried the state. Democrats led the early vote turnout by about 42,000 votes as of Sunday morning — down from a 68,000 vote edge they had heading into Election Day 2012 but one that has tracked steadily upward since mid-October until plateauing last week.


Kyle Cheney and Katie Glueck  

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