Democrats are already building a significant edge in early voting in Iowa and Nevada, which are the most competitive states in the U.S. presidential race.
Republicans have a narrow edge in Colorado, which home to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Florida started in-person voting over the weekend as dozens of Democrats in Tallahassee marched from a church to an early-voting site
Almost 15 million people have already cast ballots nationwide, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Both parties are spinning their versions of what the turnout means as they seek to project momentum in a contest where more than a third of the nation’s vote probably will be cast before Election Day, Nov. 6.
“The data are confirming what we are seeing in the polling, which is that these state races are going to be narrower than in 2008,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason who studies early voting.
In Iowa, more than 470,000 people had cast ballots through Oct. 27, according to the Iowa secretary of state’s office. If as many people vote this year as did in 2008, that would represent 30 percent of the total vote. Registered Democrats have cast 44.6 percent of the ballots so far, compared with 32 percent by Republicans and 23.3 percent by independents.
“The main thing is not to look at the polling but to look at the voting,” David Axelrod, a senior campaign strategist for President Barack Obama, said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We are mounting up a very, very large lead in Iowa based on where those early votes are coming from.”
By the end of this week, McDonald said the proportion of early voting in Iowa, as compared with 2008′s total vote, could grow to 45 percent. If current trends for ballots requested and returned remain unchanged through this week, he said, Obama’s advantage could become almost insurmountable for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“That’s got to be troubling for Romney,” McDonald said. “Election Day would have to be a Republican parade for Romney to win the state.”