Early voting is a wrap, and the results indicate more Democrats than Republicans turned out in the days leading up the election. While the early results appear to favor President Barack Obama, supporters of Mitt Romney say the turnout numbers in key states bode well for the Republican challenger.
Obama Leads in Swing States; Turnout Lags
According to data compiled by the United States Election Project, run by researchers at George Mason University, more than 30 million ballots have been cast in the states and jurisdictions allowing early voting in 2012.
Although the votes won’t be tallied until the end of Tuesday, tracking based upon party designation indicates Democrats in swing states headed to the polls in greater numbers than Republicans. However, those numbers lag behind 2008 turnout.
For example, in Florida, where conservative Governor Rick Scott created a firestorm of controversy by approving a reduction in early voting days from 14 in 2008 to 8 this year, early voting was down 9.4 percent compared to four years ago.
Paul Flemming, policy and politics editor for the Tallahassee Democrat, notes that 246,000 more Democrats turned out for early voting than Republicans.
The Florida results indicate a good news/bad news scenario for the Romney camp. Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in early voting, Romney supporters point to the lower overall early turnout as troublesome for Obama.
However, in Flemming’s analysis, he also points out Democrats have a somewhat surprising lead in absentee ballots as well. Returned absentee ballots are up 8.7 percent from 2008, and Democrats have sent back 87,000 more than Republicans.
Early Voting Results in Swing States
With the final Gallup Poll for this election season showing Romney and Obama in a statistical tie, early voting takes on new importance, particularly in swing states such as Florida and Ohio.
According to data compiled by the United States Election Project and the Associated Press, early voting breaks down by the following percentages in selected states:
- Democrat – 34.6 percent
- Republican – 36.6 percent
- Democrat – 42.9 percent
- Republican – 39.1 percent
- Democrat – 43.9 percent
- Republican – 37 percent
- Democrat – 29 percent
- Republican – 23 percent
- Democrat – 42 percent
- Republican – 46.9 percent
With the exception of Ohio, the breakdown above is based upon an individual’s registered party affiliation. However, Ohio does not require an individual to declare a party, so the numbers are based upon a voter’s last party primary.
Election 2012: Both Campaigns Confident
Early voting may be complete, but there remains little consensus on the correct interpretation of the results. Democrats are emboldened by the lead they apparently hold in swing states such as Florida and Ohio. However, Republicans see hope in the fact that fewer Democrats went to the polls early as compared to four years ago.
For now, both parties and pundits speculate on the trends, but the results of those early votes – available after the Tuesday polls close – will tell the true story.
Flemming, P. Florida early voting, absentee ballots down from 2008. (2012). Accessed November 5, 2012.
National Conference of State Legislature. Absentee and Early Voting. (2012). Accessed November 5, 2012.
Gallup. Romney 49%, Obama 48% in Gallup’s Final Election Survey. (2012). Accessed November 5, 2012.
United States Election Project. 2012 Early Voting Statistics. (2012). Accessed November 5, 2012.
Associated Press. Early Voting Results: 2012. (2012). Accessed November 5, 2012.