Democrats Match GOP In Early Voting Numbers
Apparently the rightwing blogosphere is buzzing today with the news that according to the ABC and Washington Post daily tracking polls of the last couple of days, those who have indicated to pollsters that they have voted early have done so for Bush – by only a 4% margin – 51%-47%. Should our friends on the right be happy with this, or afraid?
I say the latter. Why? Well first, ABC makes clear itself who these early voters are:
Early voting is more prevalent in the West than in other regions. (Oregon is one reason — all voting there is by mail — and there's high absentee voting in several other Western states.) Early voters are more likely to be older, women and following the race very closely. They're also a bit more likely to be Republicans than Democrats.
And a four-point margin is the best the GOP can do with this group?
Second, and more importantly, historically those who have voted early have up until this year have been largely absentee voters, whom we are told are typically conservative and senior. The GOP has always put an emphasis on absentee voters and has aimed their efforts at banking votes before Election Day to offset Democratic GOTV advantages. In fact, it has been said that the GOP always banks a several percentage point advantage before Election Day with their strength amongst these absentee voters, which the Democrats must overcome on Election Day with their turnout efforts. So among absentee voters in previous years, you may expect to see a 60%-40%, 70%-30%, or even higher margin for the GOP amongst these early voters.
But this year, with more states doing what they can to make voting easier, many states are offering early voting, going beyond typical absentee balloting. And what these results from the ABC and Washington Post daily tracking poll are telling us is that instead of the typical GOP flood of absentee ballots building a large pre-Election Day advantage for Bush in a tight race, Kerry is running virtually even with Bush across the country amongst early voters. And this is before whatever effort the Democrats can launch this weekend to encourage their own early voting through phone-banking and other GOTV efforts.
So pardon me if I am less than impressed with the GOP crowing about having only a 4% margin amongst early voters. If this is the best that the GOP can do before Election Day, then Democrats and their GOTV efforts on Election Day will have much less of disadvantage, if any at all, to overcome. And if Democrats can fight the GOP to a draw like this in early voting this year, and this race comes down to a purely Election Day battle between their base and ours, between their GOTV and our GOTV efforts, I like our chances even more.