Sometimes you can learn more from what is missing in mainstream media reports than from what is in them. Such an example could be the party breakdown which is almost always missing in reports about early voting this year in stark contrast to 2016.
First let us take a look at one of the rare current reports published today which touches on early voting party breakdown by Liam Stack of the New York Times News Service but in a way to discount any real meaning to it:
Which party is in the lead?
That’s a tricky question, in part because who you voted for is not public information, but also because the snapshot of early voting results on any specific day does not necessarily represent what the final result will be. Whoever is in the lead now may not be the party that actually wins.
So early voting analysis by party breakdown doesn't seem to mean much in 2018. However, contrast that attitude with the Washington Post report on November 1, 2016 by Brian Schaffner and Anthony Rentsch which proclaimed that "Early voting predict who wins. This is good news for Democrats."
Early voting is underway in many states, and things seem to look good for Democrats.
CNN suggests that Democrats have improved their standing in Arizona and Nevada, compared with 2012. Democrats also are voting at high rates in the key battlegrounds of Florida and North Carolina, according to news reports. The New York Times is estimating the November vote in North Carolina, using the early vote totals and other information. That model predicts a Hillary Clinton victory.
...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.
Marshall Cohen of CNN was also not shy in predicting great things for Hillary Clinton on November 5, 2016 based on early voting party breakdown in "Democrats take the lead in Florida early voting."
With three days before Election Day, Democratic turnout has edged ahead of Republicans for the first time since early voting began in the critical battleground state of Florida.
The milestone is a boon to Hillary Clinton's chances of carrying the Sunshine State and its 29 electoral votes -- a prize so large that it would help her close off most of Donald Trump's paths to victory.
...Doing well in the early vote is absolutely critical in Florida, because a majority of voters cast early ballots in the past two presidential elections. This means the candidate behind in the early vote must make up ground on Election Day to stand a chance at winning Florida's electoral votes.
Finally from 2016 we have MSNBC's Rachel Maddow happily chirping away on October 21 of that year about "Good news for Democrats in early voting data."
The basic consensus among everybody who's looking at the four million early votes cast thus far is that it's really good news for the Democrats. The Clinton campaign ...quote... has a greater percentage of banked votes, meaning votes already cast, than President Obama did at this point four years ago.
So where to find similar early voter analysis now? Well, it can be found at many places on the Web due to reporting from independent journalists who don't share the same reluctance as 2018 MSM outlets, in contrast to their 2016 stories, to report on this.
A rare exception to that MSM reluctance to analyze early voting via party breakdown came on October 22 in a report by Adam Edelman posted on the NBC News website which stated in its title that "Republicans outpacing Democrats in early voting in key states, NBC News finds." The subtitle of this report revealed "The data suggests enthusiasm among early GOP voters that could put a dent in Democratic hopes for a "blue wave" in the midterms."
Is the "blue wave" turning purple?
Republican-affiliated voters have outpaced Democratic-affiliated voters in early voting in seven closely watched states, according to data provided by TargetSmart and independently analyzed by the NBC News Data Analytics Lab.
GOP-affiliated voters have surpassed Democratic-affiliated ones in early voting in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas, the data showed.
...The latest data suggests robust enthusiasm among early Republican voters that could put a dent in Democratic hopes for a "blue wave" in next month's midterm elections.