Early voting: Will it make a difference in the final tally?
by Don McKee
October 26, 2012 01:18 AM | 4321 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
Early voting is in full swing across much of the country with both Republicans and Democrats claiming they have the advantage. Here in Cobb the early voters have been standing in line for more than a week since polling places opened and the volume will increase with the addition of more locations next week.

Thirty-five states have early vote programs but the presidential campaign focus is on nine key battleground states including top-of-the-list Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin and Iowa.

If you believe the progressive Catalyst Analytics results released Thursday, President Obama has gained a wide lead over Republican Mitt Romney in early voting in North Carolina and Iowa. Of those who had voted by Thursday, 57 percent were likely Democrats versus 36 percent likely Republicans — ahead of the Democratic winning trend at the same point four years ago.It’s “evidence of superior Democratic voter mobilization program,” the firm said. But it does not mean that the final tally on Election Day will come out in favor of the Democrats. Incidentally, North Carolina alone among the states allows “one-stop” voting with people registering and voting in one trip to polling places.

An Obama operative said early voting in Ohio’s Democratic areas exceeds that in Republican areas. But Republicans countered by saying the early Democratic voters were going with the party’s nominee anyway, thus reducing election day turnout. There’s certainly some guesswork about voting in Ohio, sophisticated data model or not although this year’s early voting is expected to top the nearly 30 percent total in Ohio four years ago.

The Obama camp said this week that Democratic early voting is ahead of the margins in key states compared to four years ago. The idea, according to the campaign, is to help get “sporadic voters” to vote, and the figures show “more Obama sporadic voters are voting than Romney sporadic voters, which is a very big piece of business for the total turnout.”

But Republicans see it their way. “In most cases the data show Republicans making up a larger share of early voters this year than they did four years ago,” Rob Wile of the Republican National Committee staff said in a memo. “Democrats make up a smaller share, giving Republicans an important advantage.”

By mid-week more than 800,000 Florida voters had cast their ballots, 44.8 percent registered Republicans, 39.4 percent registered Democrats and 15.8 percent independents, according to the Miami Herald. About 54 percent of the state’s 8.45 million voters chose early voting in 2008.

The latest AP-GfK poll showed Romney drawing 47 percent of likely voters nationwide versus Obama’s 45 percent, within the 4.2-point margin of error. Unfortunately, the virtual dead heat nationally does not reflect what’s happening in the battleground states.

And since Georgia is not one of the battleground states, it’s a somewhat helpless feeling to have to watch the real battles decided in a few other states.


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