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November 02, 2012

Ohio Looks Shaky if You Look At the Polls.
If You Look At Actual Votes, It Looks Better.

The early vote is down 15% in Obama's bread-and-butter cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati. (Well, Toledo and Youngstown are also bread and butter, and more Democratic, but they're smaller, and have less votes available.)

On the Thursday before Election Day in 2008, 4,583 people voted early in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland.

This was a stronghold for the Obama campaign; on Election Day, Obama carried the county 69 percent to 30 percent for John McCain.

Yesterday 2,963 people voted.

Again, some of that may be because of people being preoccupied with cleaning up storm damage, etc. But overall, by this point in 2008, 39,110 Cuyahoga County residents had voted early. As of Thursday, 33,140 have about a 15 percent drop. And note that the early voting was ahead of the 2008 pace until Saturday.

The implication is that while Obama has a super-dedicated cadre of cultists who did in fact turn out to vote early, they're not such a big group, and now that they've voted, the returns are coming in slowly. So he's banked his Cultist vote, and now he's collecting fewer of them. And presumably will be lose the Election Day vote.

It's a good tea leaf, as far as tea leaves go.

230,000 fewer Democrats have voted in Ohio than voted early in 2008. Note, though, that there are still four days left of early voting, but this applies to our figures too, and Republican early voting is up 40,000 over 2008, for a net +270,000 swing to Republicans.

And Obama only won the state in 2008 by just shy of 260,000 votes.

Karl Rove made his 51-48 prediction in the Wall Street Journal (Romney wins).

I thought his analysis of Ohio was the most heartening part.

Adrian Gray, who oversaw the Bush 2004 voter-contact operation and is now a policy analyst for a New York investment firm, makes the point that as of Tuesday, 530,813 Ohio Democrats had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot. That's down 181,275 from four years ago. But 448,357 Ohio Republicans had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot, up 75,858 from the last presidential election.

That 257,133-vote swing almost wipes out Mr. Obama's 2008 Ohio victory margin of 262,224. Since most observers expect Republicans to win Election Day turnout, these early vote numbers point toward a Romney victory in Ohio. They are also evidence that Scott Jennings, my former White House colleague and now Romney Ohio campaign director, was accurate when he told me that the Buckeye GOP effort is larger than the massive Bush 2004 get-out-the-vote operation.

Democrats explain away those numbers by saying that they are turning out new young Ohio voters. But I asked Kelly Nallen, the American Crossroads data maven, about this. She points out that there are 12,612 GOP "millennials" (voters aged 18-29) who've voted early compared with 9,501 Democratic millennials.

Are Democrats bringing out episodic voters who might not otherwise turn out? Not according to Ms. Nallen. She says that about 90% of each party's early voters so far had also voted in three of the past four Ohio elections. Democrats also suggest they are bringing Obama-leaning independents to polls. But since Mr. Romney has led among independents in nine of the 13 Ohio polls conducted since the first debate, the likelihood is that the GOP is doing as good a job in turning out their independent supporters as Democrats are in turning out theirs.

By the way, if Ohio is tight, we might not have a winner until after November 17th.

That's because people who requested, and were sent, an absentee ballot can actually just go to the polls instead. But Ohio law then requires those ballots to be provisional, and only counted after making sure that the voter didn't try to vote twice.

And those ballots will not be counted until November 17th.

And wouldn't that be fun.

Personally, I think I'd go on vacation, and just not think about it for ten days. I don't know how much more I want to take of this.

And if today's close polls are bringing you down, cast your eyes back to 2008, when they weren't close at all.

We're doing well. I'd rather be doing better, but we're doing well.


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posted by Ace at 01:51 PM

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