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.
Who has the edge is more muddled in the bigger swing states of Ohio and Florida, while Republicans have a narrow lead in Colorado. Early, in-person voting started in Florida over the weekend, and dozens of Democrats in Tallahassee marched five blocks from a church to an early-voting site yesterday, chanting “Vote early.”
Enlarge image Democrats Gain Advantage on Early Voting
Early voters fill out their ballots as they cast their vote in the presidential election on the first day of early voting, at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in Miami. Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
More than 14 million people have already cast ballots nationwide, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Both parties are spinning their versions of what the turnout means as they seek to project momentum in a contest where more than a third of the nation’s vote is likely to be cast before Election Day, Nov. 6.
“The data are confirming what we are seeing in the polling, which is that these state races are going to be narrower than in 2008,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason who studies early voting.
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.
Polls Versus Voting
“The main thing is not to look at the polling but to look at the voting,” David Axelrod, a senior campaign strategist for President Barack Obama, said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We are mounting up a very, very large lead in Iowa based on where those early votes are coming from.”
By the end of this week, McDonald said the proportion of early voting in Iowa, as compared with 2008’s total vote, could grow to 45 percent. If current trends for ballots requested and returned remain unchanged through this week, he said, Obama’s advantage could become almost insurmountable for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“That’s got to be troubling for Romney,” McDonald said. “Election Day would have to be a Republican parade for Romney to win the state.”
In Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina, Obama banked so many early votes in 2008 that he won those states even though he ran behind in each in votes cast on Election Day itself, according to voting data compiled by the Associated Press.
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 45.4 percent, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. Republicans have accounted for 37.2 percent and independent voters for 17.4 percent.
Heavily Democratic Clark County, Nevada’s most populous and where Las Vegas is located, has seen people registered with the president’s party cast 121,298 early and absentee ballots, compared with 81,512 for Republicans, through Oct. 27.
Republicans have a slim edge in Colorado’s early voting, according to data released today by the secretary of state’s office there. Of the vote turned in so far, 38 percent is from registered Republicans, while Democrats represent 36 percent and independents 24.5 percent.
Early, in-person voting started in Colorado on Oct. 22, a week after absentee voting. About a third of the total 2008 vote has now been cast.
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