Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley sends along this summary of early-voting and absentee ballot voting efforts in swing states.
I have two very minor quibbles with the bright portrait he paints. First, in a bunch of swing states, Obama won by considerable margins – 120,000 votes in Nevada; 130,000 votes in Virginia; 150,000 votes in Iowa; 240,000 votes in Florida; 400,000 votes in Wisconsin, 600,000 votes in Pennsylvania. So Romney doesn’t have to do merely better than McCain did in 2008, he has to do considerably better; secondly, the under-funded McCain effort did such a poor job in early voting in these states that it’s not the highest bar to clear.
Having said all that, the broad outlines of the early vote in this cycle are clear: Republicans outperforming their 2008 early vote effort by a wide margin and Democrats not equaling their 2008 effort in most places.
With less than two weeks until Election Day, the unprecedented GOP ground game is producing dramatic results in absentee balloting and early voting (AB/EV) that will give us a critical edge. We will continue to build on this momentum in the next thirteen days, meaning it will be increasingly difficult for Democrats to cobble together the necessary votes.
In the battleground states with available data, Republican AB/EV activity is strong. In addition to raw Republican versus Democrat turnout numbers, there are two key metrics by which we can measure this.
First, we can calculate the party’s share of AB/EV activity as compared to the party’s share of voter registration. The data show the percentage of AB/EV activity from Republicans is greater than the percentage of registered voters which are Republican, indicating higher turnout rates among registered Republicans than among registered Democrats. For example, Republicans are outperforming our share of voter registration in absentee requests and early votes by 5.6 points in Florida, 8.73 points in Ohio, and nearly 12 points in Pennsylvania.
Second, we can measure the party’s share of AB/EV activity as compared to its share in 2008. In most cases, the data show Republicans making up a larger share of early voters this year than they did four years ago. Democrats make up a smaller share, giving Republicans an important advantage.Across the eight states, Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by a net 5.85 percentage points, while Republicans are over-performing their share by 2.13 points, yielding a net swing of +7.98 percentage points for Republicans.
In states without party affiliation data, we can still gauge partisan turnout by the overall AB/EV activity rate in Democrat-leaning and Republican-leaning counties as compared to 2008. In many Democrat-heavy counties activity is down from 2008, while in critical Republican-heaving counties, AB/EV activity is up.
In yet another sign of Republican strength, Gov. Romney is winning the independent vote, both on the national level and in key battlegrounds. Both the latest Quinnipiac/CBS News poll and PPP poll in Ohio show Gov. Romney winning independents by 7 points. A recent LVRJ/SurveyUSA poll gave Gov. Romney an 18-point lead with independents in Nevada.
We’re not just over-performing with our base; unaffiliated voters are breaking for us too because they recognize that only Gov. Romney offers a real plan and a positive vision for the future.
While many of the Democrat ballots cast come from high propensity voters who would vote regardless, the Republican turnout operation has been focused on getting low propensity voters who would otherwise not vote to cast ballots early. As such, turnout for the Romney-Ryan ticket on Election Day will remain as strong as expected.
Past trends in Iowa, North Carolina, and Nevada show that Republicans turn out for early voting in greater numbers as we get closer to Election Day. We’ve seen that already in Iowa and Ohio, and we are seeing the same trend develop again this year in North Carolina and Nevada, meaning the Republican advantage will grow in coming days.
Moreover, our superior ground game and organization will continue to drive Republicans to vote early right up to Election Day–thanks to the tireless work of over 119,000 volunteers who have already made 28 million voter contacts since our AB/EV turnout program began and 44.8 million contacts total since the spring.