Swing State Update: Many Polls Tightening, But Dems Are Ahead In Early Voting
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Is Mitt Romney really ahead in Florida? It seems that Romney did get a bump of one-to-two percentage points in the polls after the first debate—a bounce that is less than these polls' margin of error, which a skeptic would say means that the race is statistically tied.
But, as McDonald noted, these recent polls do not fully take into account how the Democratic Party and groups doing registration drives among likely Democratic voters fared this year. Last week, when Florida closed its voter registration for the presidential election, Democrats and their allies turned in at least 350,000 more registrations than the GOP. That difference could be 3 percent of the state’s electorate if those people vote, a share that would be bigger than Romney’s lead in polls after the first debate. And the Dems are doing far better in early absentee voting compared to 2008, the Miami Herald reports.
What’s really a concern for Florida voters who aren’t going to early voting sites is not small-scale GOP chicanery tinkering with Democratic voter registrations, which was noticed by an alert county election official and caused a political ruckus, but the long length of that state’s 2012 ballot. Voting will take longer in polling places this year, causing lines that always prompt some people to leave without voting. And it’s possible that not every ballot will be completely filled out. That could get messy if vote-counting legal challenges arise.
Obama is seen as maintaining a slim lead in Ohio, even as the state’s Republicans continue to distinguish themselves in yet another presidential year with thuggish voter suppression tactics. There is small-scale stuff such as putting up billboards in Cleveland threatening African-American voters with supposedly illegal voting. Far more serious and potentially impactful is GOP Secretary of State John Husted’s ongoing efforts to cancel early voting across the state on the last weekend before Election Day.
In two recent federal court rulings, Husted was ordered to let Ohio’s 88 counties decide if they want to offer voting on the final weekend before November 6—when 100,000 Ohioans voted in 2008 including thousands of urban church-goers, a big Democratic voting block. Husted has appealed the latest ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Tuesday decided not to hear the case.
The Supreme Court's action is a big victory for Democrats. In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 118,775 votes in Ohio, which shows the importance of this issue and why the state is remaining in the Obama column. (On Tuesday afternoon, Husted issued a directive telling the state's 88 county election boards what hours to be open for voting on November 3, 4 and 5.)
This is another toss-up state, where the Times averaging of polls finds that Obama and Romney are tied on Monday—and RealClearPolitics says that Romney is up by 0.6 percent on Tuesday. These figures come against a backdrop of another highly partisan Republican secretary of state, Scott Gessler, who also has tried to shape the electoral playing field to his party’s benefit.
Like Gessler’s counterparts in Florida, Michigan and New Mexico, the Colorado secretary has sought to scare off new voters—particularly from the state’s Latino community—by claiming that Colorado’s voter rolls are ridden with non-citizens. (This spring Florida claimed there were more than 180,000 of these; now that number turns out to be less than 200!) Gessler’s outsized claims are not true either, but they do scare off eligible voters who don’t want to deal with a policed process.
There are some signs that Colorado might break in Obama’s direction. The state’s voter registration list has a record number of voters, including nearly 230,000 who registered online. The online cohort has more younger people, who tend to vote Democratic. On the last day of registration, more than 36,000 people registered online. Presumably, that included many college students motivated after Obama visited campuses in their state.