"Is the blue wave turning purple?"
While this statement might not seem like much of a concession from left-leaning NBC News, a more thoughtful analysis reveals that it's just the latest indication of a shifting political reality - one that anti-Trump news organizations can no longer afford to ignore: That, just like in 2016, Republican turnout in the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm vote is already looking to be much higher than the polls initially predicted as issues like the migrant caravan and the contentious confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh have backfired on Democrats (who had hoped they would sway moderates to vote against Republicans) and instead galvanized the conservative movement and alienated those very same moderates they had hoped to attract.
According to the latest polling data, Republican-affiliated voters are outpacing Democratic-affiliated voters in early voting in seven closely watched battleground states. This according to data from TargetSmart, which was analyzed by NBC's Data Lab. Democratic candidates have already fallen behind in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas. The only battleground state where early voting Democrats outnumbered their Republican peers was Nevada.
While early votes represent only a small fraction of the total, these data appear to confirm that the surge in interest among Republican voters reported by the Wall Street Journal last week has already translated into higher turnout at the ballot box.
Key Senate races that could determine whether Republicans retain control of the Senate are underway in seven of the above-mentioned states.
Key Senate races are underway in seven of those eight states and will prove pivotal in determining which party controls the chamber.
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.
Republicans typically dominate early voting by absentee ballots, while Democrats tend to have the advantage with in-person early voting. So, for example, the entire early voting picture in Florida, which has yet to begin in-person voting, is incomplete.
In Arizona, Republican-affiliated early voters outnumbered Democrat-affiliated voters by more than 10 percentage points.
In Arizona - where two members of the House, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally, are in a neck-and-neck contest to fill retiring Republican Jeff Flake's Senate seat - 44 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, compared to 33 percent who had a Democratic affiliation. Twenty-three percent of early voters were not affiliated with either major party, and thus grouped as "other" in NBC News' partisan analysis.
And in Texas, Republicans are already turning out to support Ted Cruz over upstart Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.
In Florida — where Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is running for re-election in a tight race against Republican Gov. Rick Scott — 44 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, versus 38 percent who had a Democratic affiliation and 18 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
In Indiana — where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is facing a re-election challenge from Republican businessman Mike Braun — 51 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, compared with 39 percent who had a Democratic affiliation and 10 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
In Montana — where Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is up for re-election in a state that President Donald Trump won by 21 points — 46 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, compared with 29 percent who had a Democratic affiliation and 25 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
In Tennessee — where former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen is in a close race with Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn to fill retiring Republican Bob Corker's Senate seat — 63 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, compared with 30 percent who had a Democratic affiliation and 7 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
In Texas — where Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is attempting to hold off Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke — 53 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, compared with 43 percent who had a Democratic affiliation and 4 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
On Monday, the first day of early voting in Texas, thousands of people were camped out at an early voting location in Houston hours before it opened, The Houston Chronicle reported.
And in Georgia — where civil rights groups have sued Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor, saying the method his office uses to verify new voter registrations is discriminatory — 52 percent of early voters had a Republican affiliation, versus 43 percent who had a Democratic affiliation and 5 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
And then there's Nevada...
On the other hand, in Nevada — where Republican Sen. Dean Heller is up for re-election in a close race against Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen — 45 percent of early voters had a Democratic affiliation, compared with 38 percent who had a Republican affiliation and 18 percent who were not affiliated with either party.
Further confounding the Democratic "blue wave" narrative, women outnumber men in early voting in nearly all of the states seeing a surge of Republican turnout.
Women voters have outpaced men voters so far in Florida (55 percent to 45 percent), Georgia (54 percent to 46 percent), Indiana (53 percent to 46 percent), Montana (49 percent to 48 percent), Tennessee (52 percent to 48 percent) and Texas (59 percent to 41 percent), the data showed.
Male voters have outpaced women voters so far in Nevada (49 percent to 47 percent), the data shows. In Arizona, 48 percent of men and 48 percent of women have voted so far.
Already, more than 5 million votes have been cast in the midterm elections. While Democrats will probably rationalize this turnout by telling themselves that "conservatives vote early", with polls showing Republicans closing the gap with Democrats, this pattern is looking eerily familiar.
In other words.