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GOP strategists: Trends in early voting show Trump advantage in key battleground states

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses with supporters after a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Republican campaign strategists see a pathway to victory for Donald Trump, who appears to have a leading edge among absentee and early voters in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa.

Eight days from the election, ballots are beginning to pour into critical battleground states with Trump outperforming Mitt Romney’s early voter turnout in 2012, and Democrats struggling to overcome an enthusiasm gap with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

“Our path to victory is through Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Iowa,” Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie told reporters. “Once we win those, we put ourselves in a very good position to... only have to pick off one of these states that we’re currently competing in.”

On Tuesday Republican National Committtee (RNC) political director Chris Carr told reporters that with one week left before the election, requests for absentee ballots in Florida is soaring. Compared to 2012, there has been an uptick of nearly a half million voters requesting absentee, with Republicans returning 72,000 more ballots than Democrats to date.

In Ohio, early voting among Democrats is “lagging behind” in counties that heavily favored President Barack Obama in the last election, Carr explained. Republican enthusiasm in counties Mitt Romney carried in 2012 have experienced only a slight uptick in early voting activity.

North Carolina and Iowa are states where the “the math is a little complicated,” Bossie acknowledged. Trump has managed to close the early voting gap Republicans experienced in Iowa in 2012, and he maintains a nearly 3-point lead statewide in the latest battleground state polls. North Carolina remains vexing for the GOP, with Democrats showing a substantial lead of 240,000 absentee and early voting returns.

Republicans have traditionally trailed Democrats in early voting in previous elections, and according to some analysts, the same holds true this year. Throughout the election season, Clinton has outpaced Trump in get-out-the-vote efforts with a massive ground-game. Trump has focused less on his state-by-state organization and more on mobilizing the huge crowds of supporters who regularly attend his campaign rallies.

As the presidential race enters its final week, both Trump and Clinton are gunning for every vote with both candidates planning dozens of events in Florida, Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states that will be up for grabs on November 8.

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