The election to choose America’s next president is still days away, but as of Tuesday, October 30 as many as 18 million Americans had already made their choices. In fact, up to 35 percent of the overall votes will likely be cast before November 6, the polling day.
Because of the extremely close nature of the race, both the campaigns of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have made aggressive efforts to drive up early voting, especially in the swing states where the polls are very competitive. Their efforts seem to be paying dividends in many of these states.
A Vote in Hand…
Data compiled by the United States Election Project at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, reveal that more than 1.25 million, out of the 7.7 million registered voters, in Ohio have already voted. Both candidates see the state, which has 19 electoral votes, as key to an electoral college victory. Similarly, in Florida, another battleground state, a fifth of the 12 million registered voters have already cast their votes, the Election Project data show.
Some 32 US states allow all voters to cast their ballots in person before the polling day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that serves legislators and staffs in states. In addition to early voting in person, states also allow eligible voters to cast absentee ballots and postal ballots.
In states such as Ohio, early voting began a month prior to election day. It easy to understand why campaigns encourage early voting â€” a vote cast is money in the bank for them. No October or November surprise can change the votes of those who have already made their choices.
Historically, Democratic candidates have fared better among early voters, while Republican nominees have advantage among those who vote on the polling day. In 2008, Obama led John McCain among early voters in swing states.
Team Obama thinks it has a clear advantage among early voters, this time around as well. While Romney was running a tough primary race, the Obama campaign had been building the “get-out-the-vote” machinery that it believes will take it past the magical 270 electoral votes on November 6. A major focus of the campaign had been to build a superior “ground game” in counties and precincts that lean Democratic and communities and groups that tend to vote with the party.
The campaign has pointed out that early voting among African Americans is “up 17 percent or more” in seven key states â€” Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and North Carolina. In states such as “Iowa and Nevada, we’re racking up early vote margins so large that, if it continues at this rate, Romney will have to beat us by a 20 percent margin on Election Day to win,” a campaign official wrote earlier this week.
On the other hand, the Romney campaign claims that it has been able to neutralize the traditional advantage the Democrats have in early voting in this race. While the prolonged primary season hampered its fundraising efforts for the general election, it was not without any benefits for Romney. The campaign was able to build organisations in more states because of it. And, in at least in one swing state, Colorado, the GOP has advantage among early voters, according to the Election Project data.