On the whole, presidential polls this weekend continue to show a tight race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
But there’s potentially GOOD NEWS for Obama in a Public Policy Polling survey of voters in Ohio, which is perhaps the most closely watched of all states in this race:
The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they’ve already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven’t voted yet, but the numbers make it clear that he already has a lot of ground to make up in the final three weeks before the election.
Nationwide, early voting seems likely to set a NEW RECORD this year:
More than 800,000 people have already voted in the 2012 general election. A clearer picture of the potential 2012 electorate is emerging in some states where election officials are providing information on who has voted.
Early voting — both mail and in-person — is on pace to exceed 2008 levels, when about 30 percent of all votes nationally were cast prior to Election Day. The 2008 levels may be exceeded even further in states such as Iowa and Ohio, where early voting has been brisk. As a corollary, with no collapse in early voting, there is no indication so far that overall turnout, both early and Election Day, will be substantially lower than 2008.
Iowa sticks out as a sore thumb in early voting. Already, more than 200,000 people have voted in Iowa, a much larger share of the potential 2012 electorate than any other state.
The number of registered Democrats who have voted is about twice that of registered Republicans, 53 percent to 28 percent, with the remainder unaffiliated. Bet let’s not be so fast in calling Iowa for Obama. In 2008, Democrats outpaced Republicans 47 percent to 29 percent among early voters. Among the nearly 400,000 ballot requests in 2012, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a narrower margin: 48 percent to 30 percent. Republicans have been steadily making up ground among the votes cast and the ballot requests.
Romney needs more Republicans to vote early or needs Election Day to be vastly different, since Obama won the state by nine percentage points in 2008. An early vote electorate that looks like 2008 would therefore pose a difficult uphill climb for Romney. If these early vote numbers fail to firm up further for Romney, Iowa may be the first state where the campaign will have to make a tough strategic decision as to whether or not to continue expending resources.
NOTE: I may have a polling update or two later in the day. So check back now and again.
UPDATE: And now there’s THIS:
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are neck and neck in opinion polls, but there is one area in which the incumbent appears to have a big advantage: those who have already cast their ballots.
Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.
The sample size of early voters is relatively small, but the Democrat’s margin is still well above the poll’s credibility interval – a measurement of polls’ accuracy – of 10 percentage points.
With the November 6 election just more than three weeks away, 7 percent of those surveyed said they had already voted either in person or by mail.
Early voting was a big part of Obama’s victory over Republican John McCain in 2008, and his campaign aims to repeat its success this year.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates the campaign’s efforts appear to be paying off, although its advantage could erode as Election Day approaches.
The Obama campaign says it is leading among early voters in Iowa and Ohio, and trailing by a smaller margin than 2008 in several other swing states. It expects its early voting efforts will help the campaign weather a blitz of negative ads expected to saturate the airwaves in battleground states in the final weeks before November 6.