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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Tough News for Obama in Early Voting Figures



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Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report notes that the early vote in Virginia is not going the way the Obama campaign hoped: “Today’s new 10/31 numbers even more troubling for Obama. His best counties way off 2008 pace.” He elaborates that as of yesterday, 185,489 ballots had been cast in Obama localities, compared to 214,783 by this point in 2008, while 115,908 in McCain, compared to 117,224 in 2008.

He adds, “Obama strongholds Arlington –20.0%, Fairfax –20.9%, Richmond –13.7% (vs. just –9.2% statewide). Hmm . . .” and “In Romney strongholds, enthusiasm up. Hanover (33.1% Obama) turnout up 6.2%, Buchanan (coal country) up 14.5% vs. 2008.”

By the way, I will be quite surprised if Romney-Ryan doesn’t outpace McCain-Palin’s vote totals and percentages in northern Virginia by a healthy margin. I say that based on the GOP get-out-the-vote operations improving in the 2009 and 2010 elections, and the almost unbelievable numbers of A) Romney-Ryan signs (paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia) in neighborhoods like mine where Obama-Biden yard signs appeared standard-issue for all homeowners four years ago and B) George Allen for Senate yard signs.

In this morning’s Jolt, now in the hands of subscribers, I took a look at some indicators in Ohio, Wisconsin, and nationally.

Hey, remember how the Obama campaign’s fantastic get-out-the-vote operation was going to create this impregnable firewall of key swing states, and run up such an enormous advantage in the early vote that Romney would never be able to make up the difference?

First interesting indicator of the morning from early voting: I mentioned Tuesday that early voting in Cuyahoga County, Ohio — the Democrat vote stronghold that includes Cleveland — slipped behind the pace of 2008 after running ahead for the first twenty-eight days of early voting or so. (We don’t know how these early voters are voting, but Obama won this county 69 percent to 30 percent last time around, so we can presume he’s leading this cycle on a somewhat comparable rate.) Well, the early vote collapsed Tuesday and Wednesday. Of course, a big chunk of that dropoff is from the remains of Hurricane Sandy dumping snow and wind and miserable weather on the Cleveland area. But if we see early voting continue to be slow in these final days, it will be a bit of evidence that the Democrats’ get-out-the-early vote effort in Ohio isn’t really expanding their total share of the vote; they’re just getting their traditional Election Day voters to vote earlier.

The second interesting indicator from early voting:

Just as the presidential race is deadlocked in the campaign’s final days, the candidates are also running about even when it comes to the ground game. Voters nationally, as well those in the closely contested battleground states, report being contacted at about the same rates by each of the campaigns. And with a fifth of likely voters reporting already having cast their ballots, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has a clear advantage among early voters. This is in sharp contrast to early voting at this point four years ago, which favored Obama by a wide margin . . .

The Pew Research Center survey found that the race is even among all likely voters nationwide (47% Obama, 47% Romney). Unlike the last campaign, the race also is close among voters who say they have already voted.

In the poll, conducted Oct. 24-28, 19% of likely voters say they have already voted; that is unchanged from the same week in the 2008 campaign (Oct. 23-26, 2008). Currently, Romney holds a seven-point edge among early voters (50% to 43%); because of the small sample, this lead is not statistically significant. At this point four years ago, Obama led John McCain by 19 points (53% to 34%) among early voters.

Then there’s the third interesting indicator from early voting:

If the election was held today, President Barack Obama would lose the state of Wisconsin because where his base is, we have not turned out the vote early,” Mayor Michael Hancock told a Democratic rally. “The suburbs and rural parts of Wisconsin — the Republican base — are voting. President Obama’s base has yet to go vote.

“We’ve got to get our people to go vote,” Hancock said.

Later Hancock talks to the Washington Examiner and explains,

“This is a very close race, and the point we’re trying to make is make sure the base shows up, turns out and begins to vote early,” Hancock said. “I saw where the votes were rolling in, and I said we’ve got to make sure that where the president’s base is, they get out and vote.”

First question: Just how many votes does the mayor of Denver stumping in Milwaukee bring out? “Hey, everybody, grab your friends and call your neighbors! Michael Hancock’s in town!” Are we sure this guy didn’t just want to take a trip to Milwaukee for some brats? I mean, isn’t Colorado a swing state?

Secondly, Hancock must have been briefed by somebody in the Obama campaign or the Wisconsin Democratic Party. So somebody is worried about the early vote in Wisconsin, at least so far!


Tags: Early Voting


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