What is really going on with early voting?I noted a problem yesterday with the Rasmussen Ohio poll that I think needs further discussion. As you recall, this Ohio poll showed that Romney is leading by 2 in Ohio, 50-48. However, there is a big head scratcher in that poll regarding early voting. 33% of the sample claim to have already voted in Ohio, and of those voting early, they favor Obama by about 2:1.
This situation is replicated in many of the Ohio polls. The most recent PPP poll shows early voters at 36% again with a 2:1 preference for Obama. I have been noting this problem all month, with Ohio polls from ARG and Survey USA also showing very high early vote totals heavily favoring Obama.
But is it true?
Let's quickly do the math. Ohio has about 7.9 million registered voters right now. For these polls to be correct then they are reporting the following:
- Rasmussen - 33% - 2,500,000 already voted
- PPP - 36% - 2,800,000 already voted
The Election Project at George Mason University is maintaining a count of the number of early votes actually received by each of the states. Take a look at their Ohio totals as of 10/26:
So far slightly over 1 million early votes have been received in Ohio, and 161,000 from Cuyahoga county. Cuyahoga is, of course, the major Democrat bastion and the intended source for most of the Democrat votes during the election. In 2008 Cuyahoga county had 266,000 early votes, so as of 10/26 the Democrats have only booked 60% of their 2008 total from this county. Overall, the GOP analysis offered is that Democrats are 8% off their early voting pace, while Republicans are 5% ahead of their 2008 pace.
In any case, in Ohio, the total number of actual early votes is only 12% of the registered voters, or 17% of the 5.7 million actual voters in 2008. Not 33% or 36%.
The result of this discrepancy in the polls is to drive up the likely voters in the sample, and to over sample Democrats, since the 2:1 preference ratio favors Obama to such a high degree. Regardless of whether these voters who are lying about early voting are really likely voters, it still represents a significant over sample of Obama support, given the results in the rest of the poll.
Gallup released a survey yesterday that provides a better look at the state of early voting nationwide. This survey is gathered from their likely voter pool that they are using in their tracking poll that is showing Romney leading 51-46. This survey fits the results we saw from the Ohio early voting returns. 15% of the respondents have already voted, and 18% plan to vote before election day.
Or do they? There is a very curious item if you look at those who have voted and those who plan to vote. Those who have actually voted favor Romney 52-46, closely matching the overall poll results. Those who plan to vote on election day also favor Romney by almost the same amount, 51-45. But those who say they will vote early, but who haven't yet voted give equal support 49-49.
To me, this is just a continuation of the lying Democrat phenomena. They say they have/will voted early for Obama, but they actually haven't/won't. This behavior is what is driving the Ohio polls to overstate Obama's support. Support that will not result in actual votes on election day.
Overall, we are seeing the results of an excellent strategy by the GOP. Their plan all along was to neutralize the Obama early voting advantage, and turnout their base on Election Day. In 2008, Obama drove up huge early voting totals in many states like Florida and North Carolina, allowing them to take those states, even though McCain received more votes than he did on Election Day (in those states). Neutralizing this strategy has been the goal of the Romney campaign, and especially the RNC for the last year. This is why so much effort has been put into voter contact. Look at one final graph from the Gallup article.
Between already voted and plan to vote (including those lying Democrats) the totals are running even. Romney is slightly ahead of Obama 34-33. This neutralizes the Obama ground operation and primary strategy. On election day, the remaining 2/3rd of the electorate will vote, and they will favor Romney 51-45.
This is how you win the ground game.