Romney currently leads Obama 52% to 45% among voters who say they have already cast their ballots. However, that is comparable to Romney’s 51% to 46% lead among all likely voters in Gallup’s Oct. 22-28 tracking polling. At the same time, the race is tied at 49% among those who have not yet voted but still intend to vote early, suggesting these voters could cause the race to tighten. However, Romney leads 51% to 45% among the much larger group of voters who plan to vote on Election Day, Nov. 6.
Gallup’s showing that 15% of the electorate has already voted; 33% currently say that they have already voted or plan to; and estimate that 36% of the electorate will be early voting this year. In case you were wondering, at this point in 2008 Barack Obama was winning all three categories in the previous paragraph by comfortable margins: 53/43 among already-voted, 54/40 among plan-to-vote-early, 50/44 among vote-on-Election-Day. That link’s via Dave Weigel (who also helpfully offers up the Obama campaign’s rebuttal of state polls without noting that we are constantly seeing inflated reports of early voting on the state level*); the whole thing’s via Jim Geraghty’s Daily Jolt (alas, NRO is down right now, so no direct link).
OK, here’s the thing. I think Mitt Romney is going to win the election, and I think that Romney is going to win Ohio (although at this rate he might not need to). But I haven’t been assuming that Romney is going to win the early voter race. If – if, if, if, IF – Romney is actually winning the early voter race, then the election is over and the Republican candidate has won.
PS: This is as a good place as any to note Sean Trende’s excellent analysis of why the state and national polls simply cannot be reconciled at this moment. And Sean’s right: they can’t be.
*Seriously, the OH PPP poll alone taints the whole argument. Depending on who you ask, it’s reporting either 2x or 3x as many people early voting in Ohio as have really early voted.