To get to that magic number of 270 electoral votes and lay a four-year claim to The White House, conventional wisdom says GOP contender former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) must win Ohio. In a memo released today, Jeremy Bird, the Obama campaign’s national field director, pointed to four polls that show President Obama with leads of between 19 and 52 points in Ohio among early voters.
Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), this week told Cleveland, Ohio-area voters, “Please don’t forget early voting – Ohioans have a unique responsibility – you are the battleground of battleground states.”
Early voting began in Ohio on October 2 (before the presidential debates) and CNN says more than 1.4 million people there have voted or requested a ballot at time when many pundits believed the Democratic presidential ticket had the political wind at its back.
The latest Gallup daily tracking poll shows Romney with a 6-point lead over Obama. Conversely, the latest swing-state numbers from NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist show Obama with a modest but tenable lead in Wisconsin and Iowa. Trying to explain disparate polling results between respected polling organizations, pollsters are citing concerns about properly weighting their survey models to account for record numbers of “early” voters – driven is some measure by the get-out-the-vote-early strategy deployed by the Dems.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have some form of early, in-person voting.
In Maryland, early voting runs from October 27 to November 1.
Early voting in the District of Columbia begins on Oct. 22, at One Judiciary Square, and reportedly, at one location in each city Ward beginning October 27 and ending November 3.
In Virginia, early voting is deemed in-person absentee voting, which means residents must have an acceptable reason to vote early – such as being out of town on Election Day, having a disability or illness that prevents going to the polls on Election Day or if you have a workday and commute that add up to 11 or more hours of the 13 hours that polls are open. Absentee voting in person varies by jurisdiction but generally begins 30-45 days before most elections and ends on the Saturday before the election.
There is another possible X-factor in this election cycle. The Obama campaign is also focusing on unlikely voters. “By encouraging unlikely voters to vote early, we can focus our resources more efficiently on Election Day and make sure those less likely to vote get out to the polls,” wrote Bird in a memo released to the press last week.