Up through the first presidential debate many states which allow early voting were exercising that option at a greater rate than in 2008. At the present about 1.7 million votes have been cast compared with 1.5 million in 2008. Only about 14 states have no early voting other than an absentee ballot, whereas 23 states allow early voting and two states have all mail voting.
Early voting may increase for all sorts of reasons, but at least some of it is due to registering a decision you have already made. Up until the first debate progressive damaging mistakes made by the Romney/Ryan campaign led to a slow but steady favoring of Obama/Biden in the national polls and in key swing state polling. After the now widely publicized “47 percent comments” made by Governor Romney at a fund raiser, a number of voters appear to have made their decisions and exercised their right to vote early. This seems particularly to have happened in Ohio where nearly 20 percent of voters appear to have already cast their ballots. Preliminary polling suggests that a substantial percentage of these votes have gone to Obama/Biden.
Since the first presidential debate polling has suggested a shift forward the Romney/Ryan ticket. In many of these polls slight leads are recorded for Romney/Ryan. However, for the same reason as we saw in the 2008 election there are several reasons to think the polls may be increasingly flawed as we move toward election day. In some cases these flaws may not make much difference in outcome, but for others favorable shift may move toward Obama/Biden.
First, those that have already voted are unlikely to pick up on a polling call and register their opinion. To the extent that these are people who favor Obama/Biden they will not be counted. There is also reason to believe that both young people, who tended to favor Obama/Biden in 2008, will be underrepresented in the polls. They tend to be cell phone only users and are unlikely to pick up on numbers they don’t recognize. Hispanics may also be underrepresented for a variety of reasons as they were in 2008. This was particularly true in a number of western states when after the fact it became clear that victory margins for Obama/Biden exceeded the results of late polls by 4-7 percent.
In an election which is very close as this one is, these trends will either have to be taken into account as we proceed toward election day or corrected in the polling methods themselves. Unless a correction is made we should assume that polling may actually favor Obama/Biden slightly more that it appears to.
Richard A. Hudson is a writer, reader and blogger committed to exercise, proper nutrition and health. He’s interested in politics, economics, alternative energy, gardening and sustainability and has written brief essays on many of these topics on his bloghttp://richlynne.wordpress.com. Despite his generally positive and optimistic views about globalization, he wonders whether we will survive current destructive forces that increasingly promote warfare among political and social classes. He is also beginning to think about the declining influence of the know-it-all baby boomer generation just as the next generation born in the 60s begins to slowly stumble into a dominant position in the U.S.
He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago (1966) and subsequently spent 42 years in academics, gradually developing all sorts of interests well beyond his basic training. He ended his academic career in 2008, having published about 100 scientific papers, reviews and commentaries. In his last several years in the academy, his role as Dean of the Graduate School afforded him many opportunities to interact with students from all over the world seeking graduate degrees.
Since his retirement, he has served as a layout editor for The Daily Source, an online news service,http://www.dailysource.org.