Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton is well out in front of Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, in early voting results from three crucial swing states, according new polls released Wednesday afternoon by Quinnipiac University. The ballots cast by early voters in North Carolina and Ohio, especially, could leave Trump with a huge hill to climb if he hopes to win the precious 33 electoral votes combined from those two states.
North Carolina comes with 15 electoral votes, while Ohio offers 18. In national polling averages compiled by Huffington Post Pollster.com, Clinton currently holds an extremely narrow edge in Ohio, leading by one-10th of a percentage points, 43.5 to 43.4.
Clinton also holds a small but more significant lead in North Carolina, with a 2.1 percentage point edge, 45.7 to 43.6.
But among voters who have already cast ballots in those two states, Clinton’s lead over Trump is immense, the Quinnipiac poll found.
Among voters who have already turned in their ballots in Ohio, Clinton leads by 26 points — 58 percent to 32 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll. More than 1.2 million voters have already turned in their votes in Ohio, according to the data firm Catalist in conjunction with CNN.
In North Carolina, Clinton is also running roughshod over Trump in early voting results, according to Quinnipiac. The Democrat holds a 22-point early voting lead in that important state, Quinnipiac found, 58 percent to 36 percent.
In Florida — whose 29 electoral votes are along with New York’s 29 the third-most of any state — Clinton holds a smaller early voting lead, 48-42, a six-point margin in votes already cast, the Quinnipiac survey found.
In the Pollster.com polling average, Clinton leads Trump in Florida by three points, 47.3 to 44.3.
Washington Post polling expert Philip Bump, in a Tuesday report, said that all three of those states are “must-win” propositions for Trump. Trump currently holds leads in Arizona, Utah, Texas and Iowa — all of which he must hold to keep his “path” to the presidency intact, according to Bump’s report.
“To have a shot at the presidency, Trump needs to win Florida, North Carolina and Ohio — and if he does, and if the other must-wins above hold, he will pull to 259 electoral votes,” Bump wrote.
Of course, that would still leave Trump 11 votes short of the 270 needed to clinch the electoral victory and the White House. That means Trump would need to win a large state such as Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, or Virginia with 13, to turn the election in his favor.
While there is debate over whether or not early voting results can predict the actual result of the final vote in a specific state, a study by two University of Massachusetts-Amherst political scientists published Tuesday indicated that where there is a significant early turnout, early voting results are a mostly reliable way to figure out which candidate will win.
“None of this is to say that the early vote is more useful than other sources of information, such as polling or even the simple balance of party registration in a state,” wrote Brian Schaffner and Anthony Rentsch. “But in some battleground states, the early vote is closely related to the eventual outcome. Taken together with the polls, the numbers this year do indeed bode well for Clinton.”