It’s already election day in much of the country, as early voting begins or intensifies. And it’s useful from here til November 2 to keep an eye on George Mason University’s Michael McDonald, who has been a pioneer in the analysis of early voting.
Here’s a snippet from McDonald’s latest report at pollster.com:
What do the numbers tell us so far?
First, early voting continues along at a strong clip. If early voting continue at this pace, some states and localities appear poised to easily meet or exceed their 2008 levels.
Second, despite stories about an enthusiasm gap, registered Democrats have gotten off to a jack rabbit start in Ohio and Iowa, and are keeping up with registered Republicans elsewhere. The early voting period has become a marathon, so we will have to wait to see if the Democrats can sustain their sprint or if the Republican tortoise will win. This race ain’t over yet.
Third, the early numbers are not smelling so rosy for Democrats in Nevada. True, Democrats have an 9 percentage point registration advantage among early voters in Clarke County — home of Las Vegas — but this is not as the 21 point margin Democrats enjoyed in 2008. And they are currently behind in Washoe by 5 points, a county where they had a 12 point margin in 2008. Anecdotal evidence is that Tea Party supporters were out in force over the weekend for the opening of early voting, but that their efforts were not as organized as the Democrats. We will have to see if Nevada is a state where conservative enthusiasm can beat Democratic GOTV efforts.
According to McDonald’s own site, an estimated 2.3 million votes have already been cast for the midterm elections (and that’s a low estimate based on uneven reporting from the states). Some states report early votes in terms of registered voters by party, which is how McDonald’s reaching his tentative conclusions about Iowa, Ohio and Nevada. States under Voting Rights Act scrutiny typically report a host of demographic data about early voters, most notably minority status, and we’ll be seeing some of that any day now.