Wednesday, October 29, 2008

6 Days to Change: Accumulation

There's a big part of this week that is still the campaign before election day. For that part, the news is that there really isn't any news. The McCain campaign continues to self-destruct. The national tracking polls are relatively flat, while state polls for the most part continue to move towards Obama. It's probably the lack of new news that makes Obamafiles nervous.

So even new good news doesn't cause the joy it might, because it's so much like the old good news. For instance, the Pew poll. It shows an astonishing 52% to 36% lead for Obama among registered voters. Likely voters it's 53-38. Obama's support is relatively stable, but McCain's keeps going down in Pew's polls. However, Obama has increased in voters who say they support him strongly.

The LA Times poll found Obama leading by 9 in Ohio, and 50%-43% in Florida. Those are lights out numbers. Other state polls continue to be strong for Obama. This is good news, but it's old good news. It's been like this for weeks. How much longer can it stay this way?

On the other hand, the fact that it has stayed this way this long is itself news--and very good news. CW says the polls should have tightened already. The Obama campaign tells reporters that it still expects a tighter race---if not in the final polls, then for the election. They don't believe McCain will get only 43%, let alone 38. There's some evidence for this in a few state polls, notably the most recent in PA. But even in those, Obama is still ahead in the high single digits.

And the fact that the race remains stable just six days out is also very good news for the guy who is ahead, and that's Obama.

But there is something else going on: the election that's already in progress. And most of the evidence points to a big advantage for Obama. Though it was interesting that MSNBC used the Hotline number of just a one point advantage for Democrats, others see it differently. Pew found that among the 15% of registered voters who have already voted, Obama leads by 19 points, and among the additional 16% of the electorate that plans to vote early, Obama leads by 56-37.

The Washington Post poll has similar numbers. Among those who have already voted, Obama leads 60% to 39%, and 58-39 by those who intend to vote early. He leads by 6 points by those who say they intend to vote on Nov. 4. Gallup shows a 10 point advantage for Obama in early voting.

Those are polls--official stats vary in what they show from state to state (party, race, etc.) but according to the AP: "Early voting in some swing states also appeared to be in Obama's favor. In North Carolina, for example, the turnout for early voting has been nearly a third higher than in 2004 and the number of Democrats has been close to double that of Republicans. Democratic voters in Florida have numbered about 100,000 more than Republicans, and Democrats hold an edge so far in Colorado."

Nate Silver suggests: "there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).Hmm ... can anybody think of something that those three states have in common? The African-American population share is the key determinant of early voting behavior. In states where there are a lot of black voters, early voting is way, way up. In states with fewer African-Americans, the rates of early voting are relatively normal."

More information: Registered Democrats have a 20-point advantage in early voting over Republicans in Iowa. In Nevada, Democrats lead 54.4% to 29.1% among early voters. Early voters constituted 59.4% of all voters in 2004; this year, early voting to this point is equivalent to 44% of all 2004 numbers. In Florida, In this critical swing state, early voters already make up 27% of total 2004 numbers (in 2004, early voters constituted 36% of total votes).
Dems outnumber Republicans so far, 44.7% to 40%.
Governor Crist has ordered the early voting polling places to remain open 12 hours a day instead of 8, after weeks of hours-long lines.

At the very least, these are now votes in the bank. (Not the new kind of bank, the old kind of bank you could actually trust. Probably.)

Tonight the Obama 30 minute presentation is on several TV networks at 8 pm. (I'm not sure if MSNBC is airing it at 5 Pacific or not.) It will be interesting to see the effect. I'd be interested to know what the campaign's rationale was for doing this tonight instead of the night before election day.

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