One of the lines you’ll hear periodically is that President Obama’s chances look better than some polls might suggest, because he’s running up his vote totals in early voting.
Larry Schweikart points out that at least in Ohio, the early vote is much closer than it was in 2008.
An Ohio history professor’s analysis of absentee ballot requests found a significant shift in Republican enthusiasm in the battleground state since 2008.
The University of Dayton’s Larry Schweikart tallied absentee ballot requests so far in 2012 and compared them to similar requests four years ago. His review showed a 7-point swing in favor of the GOP.
Still more Democrats than Republicans requested early ballots, but Democrats’ percentage advantage has shifted from 33-19 in 2008 to 30-23 this year.
Earlier in the week, we noted that there was dramatic shifts in favor of the GOP in Tennessee and North Carolina, with 50,000 votes in. Now with about 150,000 votes in, the registered Democrats have regained the lead. (Keep in mind, this is only the registered party ID, not whether the voter is casting a ballot for a Republican and Democrat.)
In Nevada, Democrats did manage to create a registered-voter gap that was almost as large as the one in 2008, but the number of absentee ballot requests is much closer.
In Iowa, 48.8 percent of returned ballots have come from registered Democrats, 30.5 percent from registered Republicans, and 20.6 percent from other or independent.
In Florida, 45 percent of the ballots cast have come from registered Republicans, 39.5 percent have come from registered Democrats, and 15.6 percent from other.
Also note that it is possible to read too much into the early votes. Many of the figures above come from the Elections Project at George Mason University run by professor Michael McDonald. He offered this assessment in mid-October 2010:
For pollsters conducting surveys in Ohio, these high levels of early voting will force them to modify their likely voter modeling to account for people who have already voted. Finally, early voting in these counties raises a good question how the much-discussed enthusiasm gap towards Republicans will actually play out when it comes to voting.
UPDATE: A helpful reader pointed me to Iowa statistics, which tell a similar story as Ohio. Someone forgot to tell Democratic voters about the enthusiasm gap. 42% of the 119,430 early voters in Iowa are registered Democrats compared with 29% registered as Republican. A county-by-county analysis shows registered Democrats in Iowa returning their mail ballots at a higher rate than Republicans.
Of course, Republicans won the statewide races in Ohio and Iowa handily in 2010.
Nationwide, about 3.3 million votes have been cast already.