Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nov. 1: Early voting snapshot


AARON BLAKE of The Washington Post filed this on a Post blog on Friday: “With lots of early votes starting to roll in across several swing states, Republicans continue to trail but are now in a slightly better position among early voters than they were in 2008.

Democrats built a lead early this month among early voters — in Iowa and Ohio in particular. But Mitt Romney’s momentum in the presidential race, combined with increased voter contacts by Republicans, appear to have him on pace to perform better on the early vote than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did in 2008.

“The question from there is whether his improvement is good enough.”

As the pace of early voting has accelerated across the country in recent weeks, that’s an increasingly important question for Republicans, one that (if history is any barometer of what’s coming) Democrats are poised to affirm in the affirmative.

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“In two of the most competitive states in the U.S. presidential race -- Iowa and Nevada -- Democrats are building a significant advantage in early voting,” reported John McCormick of Bloomberg Businessweek, on Monday.

“In Iowa, more than 470,000 people had cast ballots through Oct. 27, according to the Iowa secretary of state’s office. If as many people vote this year as did in 2008, that would represent 30 percent of the total vote. Registered Democrats have cast 44.6 percent of the ballots so far, compared with 32 percent by Republicans and 23.3 percent by independents,” McCormick reported.

“Thus far in Nevada, where an even larger proportion of the vote has been cast than in Iowa when compared with the 2008 vote, Democrats have accounted for 45 percent, according to an update today from the Nevada secretary of state’s office. Republicans represent 37 percent and independents 18 percent,” McCormick reported.

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IT’S HARD to know how the vote goes in Ohio, the Holy Grail of battleground states, but early turnout has been strong. Reuters reported that More than 1.2 million Ohio residents have already voted.

“The Ohio Secretary of State's office said that as of Oct. 26, about 1.26 million voters had cast ballots by mail-in absentee ballots or through early in-person voting. That represents about 22 percent of the number of people who voted in the 2008 presidential election,” Reuters reported Tuesday.

“Oddly enough, the Monday that Hurricane Sandy was at its worst is when several Ohio counties reported their busiest action at the early-voting polls,” reported Danny Cox of Examiner.com.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern seems to think he knows who these people are. “These are folks who spend 3½ hours sitting in the Dawg Pound at a Cleveland Browns game in December,” he told the Examiner. “A little bit of rain, a little bit of freezing rain, won’t keep us from the polls.”

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But in Florida, in Palm Beach County, anyway, things couldn’t be more certain — and that’s apparently a big problem for the Republicans. Evan Axelbank, a reporter with WPTV, an NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, obtained a copy of an e-mail from an adviser to a state GOP campaign, and dated Tuesday, Oct. 30. The adviser writes:

“The early and absentee turnout is starting to look more troubling. As of yesterday, Republicans made up only 22% of early voters and 30% of returned absentee votes.

“This is closer to (and worse than) 2008 where we saw 19% EV and 38% of the absentees. 2010 (our blowout year) was 33% of EV and 45% of AB.

“Conclusion: The Democrat turnout machine in the county has been very effective and they are cleaning our clock.”

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BELIEVERS IN the practice of voting, and especially voting early, should feel good whatever their political persuasion; there’s evidence that people Get It. The United States Election Project (USEP), a Web site venture from George Mason University that measures early-voter turnout for all 50 states, keeps a running tally of ballots already cast for the 2012 race. The results over the last two weeks suggest the presence of a dialed-in electorate, superstorm be damned.

The number of ballots cast has exploded by just under 900 percent since Oct. 18, according to USEP tabulations. On that date, there were 2.2 million ballots cast nationally. A week later, on Oct. 25, the number was 7.6 million. By Oct. 29, it had damn near doubled again, to 14.9 million. As of Wednesday, ballots cast for the 2012 election totaled more than 19.6 million. And that was despite Sandy’s impact.

To by what seems to be a daily rate of about 1.3 million early voters a day, early voting totals by Election Day could be between 25 million and 27 million.

This doesn’t invalidate the importance of what goes down on Tuesday, Nov. 6. If early voting isn’t an option in your state, you still have to show up. But it’s a strong indicator that, in a season crowded with voter suppression efforts in a multitude of untied states, people are internalizing the vote-early message in much the same way they rallied early to the polls in 2008 — the first time Barack Obama made history.

Chart: Short Sharp Shock., from United States Election Project.

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