Pew on early voters: Romney leads Obama, running far ahead of McCain ’08

posted at 6:41 pm on October 31, 2012 by Allahpundit

One of the core reasons to support Romney in the primary, for those who did, was that he was the only Republican running with an organization sophisticated enough to match O’s. Here’s the payoff from Pew:

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.

Two different approaches here, obviously dictated in part by differences in their respective bases. O’s team is using social media more heavily because they’re trying to turn out younger voters; Team Mitt is focusing on older adults and seniors, so they’re emphasizing direct mail. Not sure what explains the gap in home visits, though, unless it’s a simple question of greater manpower on O’s side:

The obligatory caveat here, in keeping with all the agonizing from analysts lately about the disparity between national polls and state polls, is that not all early votes are equal. If hundreds of thousands of Texans vote early, that’s super, but Romney’s winning that state going away regardless. We’re more interested in early votes in the battleground states. O has the advantage there right now, but Romney’s outperforming McCain again — most notably in Colorado:

* The one state where Republicans have a clear lead is Colorado, where 38 percent of early votes have come from Republicans and 36 percent have come from Democrats. That said, Democrats had just a two-point early vote advantage in 2008 and still won the state by nine points overall…

* In Virginia, early voting isn’t as big a piece of the puzzle, given that it requires a valid excuse to cast an early ballot. But analysts have pointed out that turnout in heavily Democratic areas like Arlington County, Alexandria, Charlottesville, Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth is lower than elsewhere in the state. All were among Obama’s top 10 best cities and counties.

Remember, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado are, realistically, all necessary predicates to Romney having two paths to the presidency. If he hits that trifecta, he’s at 257 votes and can get to 270 by winning either Ohio or Wisconsin + New Hampshire/Iowa. So the caveat to the caveat is that not all battleground states are equal either. We don’t care overly much about Nevada or Iowa if early voting in those other four looks good. Although, since we’re on the subject, WaPo says O’s early-voting lead in both NV and IA is shrinking as we speak and bound to finish lower than it was four years ago. Which I guess is why Team Mitt is starting to look more closely at Iowa as a potential upset.

Then there’s the caveat to the caveat to the caveat: How many of these early voters are people who wouldn’t have voted on election day? They’re the important ones, since they’re actually adding to the candidate’s total rather than merely banking votes for him that he would have received next week anyway. It’s hard to gauge, but Henry Olsen at AEI gave it a shot — and says he thinks it bodes well for Romney in Ohio:

I hypothesized that if the Romney campaign’s effort is working, the share of the total 2008 early vote that has already been cast should be higher in strong Romney counties than in strong Obama counties. That’s because if the Romney effort works, total turnout in those counties should be up in 2012, the bulk of that coming from the low-voting-propensity supporters who the campaign is asking to cast early ballots.

Through last Friday, that hypothesis is clearly correct…

Follow the link above for the data. More from Byron York:

“The Gallup numbers nationally confirm what we think is happening here in Ohio,” says one Romney official. “It’s two things. One, their margin of victory in early voting is greatly diminished — drastically diminished. And two, they are having a very difficult time generating enthusiasm among young people.”

Asked for evidence to support those claims, the official cited a Romney tally showing absentee and early voting is ten percent higher in counties McCain won in 2008 than in counties Obama won. He also pointed to sluggish early voting in the Toledo area, which Obama won in ’08, and particularly energetic early voting in the Cincinnati area, which McCain won. In addition, the official argues that Republicans are “outperforming our share of voter registration in absentee requests and early votes” and that the GOP has “closed the gap on Democrats’ historical absentee and early vote advantage for 20 of the past 21 days.”

Read Jay Cost’s post too about the oddity of Ohio polling generally. If pollsters were all making similar assumptions about the electorate there, you’d expect to see them converging around a number at this point. Instead, you see two separate convergences, with one group pegging the race as even or led narrowly by one of the candidates and a separate group pegging it as a four-point or so Obama lead. Awfully hard to believe that the latter group is correct when Romney is now out to his biggest national lead yet in the “likeability gap,” but that’s the polling weirdness we’re staring at right now. Simultaneously, we’re supposed to believe that Barack Obama’s going to win narrowly in virtually every major swing state except Florida, and yet Romney’s going to take the popular vote by a point or more. Ain’t happening. Someone’s wrong.

Oh, one last note about that gruesome Marquette poll of Wisconsin that you may have stumbled across earlier. Charlie Sykes argues that the sample is dubious, essentially expecting Democratic turnout at 2008 levels. That also ain’t happening, and if it was, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and Joe Biden and Paul Ryan and Bill Clinton would all find something better to do with their time.

And with that, my friends, I’ve now reached this point.


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