Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Election 2008: Early Voting The Wave Of The Future.

Posted Jan 14, 2009 at 12:08 AM by Maurice Berger

Dr. Michael McDonald of the Department of Public and International Affairs George Mason University has recently undertaken an extensive (and excellent) analysis of state-by-state early voting paterns in Election 2008. His conclusion: traditional Election Day voting patterns are changing rapidly: "In the presidential election of 2008, approximately 39.7 million or 30% of all votes were cast prior to Election Day, November 4, 2008. This is a significant increase from 20% in 2004 and part of the upward trend experienced since 1992, when 7% of all votes were cast early. These numbers are likely to increase in subsequent presidential elections as more states adopt early voting and more voters become comfortable with the practice." In another analysis, McDonald determines that the actual number of people who voted for president in 2008 was 131.3 million people. Expressed as a rate, this was 61.6% among those eligible to vote, an increase of 1.5 percentage points over 2004. "Since reaching a modern low in 1996, turnout rates have been increasing for three consecutive presidential elections--an increase that disputes the conclusions of many political scientists that the temperament of the American voter and voting itself have invited declining turnout rates: the decline in civic society, lowered trust in government and the tuning out of the electorate by television, among others: "Indeed, turnout rates are now in the low sixty percent range, the same level as the "high" turnout rates in the 1950s and 1960s. This despite the inclusion of lower participatory 18-20 year olds in the electorate and what I preliminarily estimate to be a half to three quarters of a million rejected mail-in ballots."

Do Early Voters Prefer Obama More Than Election Day Voters?

Posted Oct 28, 2008 at 1:34 AM by Maurice Berger

It certain battle ground states Obama has a clear--even dramatic edge--among early voters (as much as two-to-one). Yet, might the reverse be true for voters intending to cast their ballots on Election Day. During the primaries, Obama tended to do much better with early voters (who are the most enthusiastic in the electorate at large). Clinton tended to out-pace Obama with late-deciders and voters who actually turned out on election day. Certain pollsters are recording a similar phenomenon in the general election. As PPD writes of its North Carolina numbers: "The deciding factor for President in North Carolina could be the weather on November 4th. Barack Obama is banking a huge lead among early voters, 63-36, who account for about a third of the likely electorate. But John McCain is up 53-42 with folks who plan to vote between now and election day. A rainy day could be to Obama's considerable benefit." Could a last minute surge in the election day set make for a closer race in some states? And with more than 250 electoral votes now called "Safe" for Obama (with +10% DEM leads on average) will it even make a difference?

Early Voting: Current Trends Suggest An Advantage For Obama

Posted Oct 27, 2008 at 4:28 AM by Maurice Berger

While the population of early voters in 2008 may not increase appreciably from 2004, certain trends among these eager participants in the electoral process would now appear to favor Obama, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times: "In the 32 states that allow people to vote before Nov. 4 without a special excuse, election officials report heavy turnout as the presidential campaign reaches its frenzied last days. That's not surprising in a campaign that has received round-the-clock attention. . . . A surprise is the makeup of the early voters, election experts said. In past campaign seasons, Republicans have used early voting to their advantage, mobilizing a slice of the electorate that typically skews their way. Yet a look at voters in a handful of crucial states suggests that Obama is turning out his base in numbers that surpass those of Republican John McCain." This trend may be an even more significant development--offering a decided to the Democrat--if the statewide numbers tighten before election day, as some polls suggest.

Early Voting Could Reach 30%

Posted Oct 25, 2008 at 4:02 AM by Maurice Berger

As much as 30% of votes this cycle may be cast before election day according to Gallup. The organization's daily tracking data indicate that "about 11% of registered voters who plan to vote have already voted as of Wednesday night, with another 19% saying they plan to vote before Election Day." Interestingly, despite the disparity in voter enthusiasm reported in most national and statewide polls, early voters are not just eager supporters of Obama, but are evenly split. According to Gallup, "the pace of early voting so far appears to be roughly on par with 2004."