U.S. 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. (full graphic: http://bit.ly/RmeEen)
With the Nov. 6 election just more than three weeks away, 7 percent of those surveyed said they had already voted either in person or by mail (full graphic: http://bit.ly/SWm5YR).
The Obama campaign has been pushing early voting hard in battleground states; already early 2012 votes make up 13.4% of the number of total votes cast in Iowa in 2008, for example. And turnout is projected to be lower this time around, so bump that number up a bit.
This is why Democrats love early voting. They can actually get out volunteers to get people to the polls, while Republicans rely on temps to get frontline, grassroots campaigning done. As a result, Democrats hold a distinct advantage here.
And the result of that advantage? Democrats can get a lot of votes locked in when polling is good. Early voters are done swinging, they’re swung voters — nothing can possibly change their minds. It blunts the effectiveness of last-minute ad buys, smear campaigns, and surprises of the October variety.
“The online poll is another sign that early voting is likely to play a bigger role this year than in 2008, when roughly one in three voters cast a ballot before Election Day,” Reuters reports. “Voting is already under way in some form in at least 40 states.”