The political consensus is virtually unanimous: If Hillary Clinton wins North Carolina, Donald Trump has to win every other competitive state to take the White House.
Clinton has other paths to victory without North Carolina, but the state has been a focus for Democrats this cycle. She has led in most public opinion polling there since the summer. Just 12 days ago, a New York Times poll had her leading by 7 points, and the CNN poll of polls currently has her ahead by 4 points.
But a CNN analysis of early voting paints a very different picture and suggests that Clinton has underperformed President Obama’s 2012 performance in the Tar Heel State and Trump has outperformed Mitt Romney.
It might seem that Democrats have built up a big early lead. More than 1.3 million Democrats have already voted compared to 990,000 Republicans.
But the raw numbers don’t account for the 2012 results.