Early Voting Results For 2016 Reveal That Nothing Is Locked Up Just Yet

The final presidential debate of the 2016 election season took place on Wednesday night, and for many Americans, Election Day — and, by extension, the end of months of intense and often vicious campaigning — cannot come soon enough. For others, though, that end has already come; early voting has been open in many states for several weeks, and some preliminary results have already begun to trickle in. While we won't really know who wins any state until votes are tallied on Election Day itself (after all, a lot can change in a few weeks), but there are early voting results that seem to indicate things are looking good for Hillary Clinton.

According to CNN, more than 3 million Americans have already cast their ballot for the presidency. The network worked with Catalist, a data company that works with progressive groups, to track early voting demographics in different states. While the analysis doesn't reveal for whom the early voters have actually cast their ballots, the analysis tracks their party affiliation. According to their data, Democrats have improved their early voter turnout in a number of key battleground states — and Republicans are failing to keep pace. The CNN report by Jennifer Agiesta and Marshall Cohen noted:

Democratic early turnout has stayed steady in North Carolina compared to 2012, while Republicans have dropped by about 14,500. In Nevada, Democrats have a smaller early voting deficit today than they did at this point in 2012. And Democrats are slightly ahead in Arizona in the early vote so far, though they are lagging Republicans in the tally of how many Arizonans have requested ballots.

However, the CNN analysis noted Trump may find a silver lining with early voting in Iowa. Democrats are participating in early voting in higher numbers than Republicans in Iowa, but with not nearly as big a lead as this point in the 2012 election.

Both the Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns have taken to social media to encourage supporters to vote early whenever possible. Trump tweeted to his followers that "A LOT of your neighbors have already voted," and Clinton shared a video of President Obama stressing the importance of early voting.

Whatever the early voting results and the overall polls say now, though, the election will be decided only when all ballots have been counted (or, arguably, when the networks project a victor). Bad weather or crime or unfounded suspicions that the election is "rigged" (thank you, Trump & Co.!) could all affect turnout on Nov. 8 and surprise even the most skilled pollsters. Early voting data is informative, certainly, about the mood of the country, but it doesn't tell us who will be our next president.