Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
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Doster: Republicans showing net advantage in absentee, early votes over 2008
Posted Nov 2, 2012 by William March
Updated Nov 2, 2012 at 10:06 PM
According to figures supplied by Romney Florida strategist Brett Doster, early and absentee votes show a net advantage for Republicans over their performance in 2008.
The pertinent figures:
—Democratic absentee ballot requests are up from 815,688 in 2008 to 1,124,259 so far this year – an increase of 308,571.
—Democratic early voting, however, is down – 766,121 as of Thursday, compared to 1,050,045 at the same point in 2008. That’s not surprising, considering there had been 12 days of early voting at the same point in 2008, and only six this year, but it’s a drop of 283,924.
—Republican early voting, meanwhile, is slightly increased despite the fewer days – 612,974 this year compared to 609,325 in 2008.
—And Republican absentee ballot requests are up from 1,022,411 to 1,161,099, an increase of 138,688.
Add up the pluses and minuses on each side—and assuming all absentee ballot requests result in returned ballots, which of course is far from certain—and you get a net Republican advantage of 117,690 votes over 2008. That’s almost exactly half the 236,450 votes by which Barack Obama won Florida in 2008.
“Democrats are hemorrhaging early votes from 2008,” Doster commented.
Caveat: The figures are don’t include the last two days of early voting, including Friday and Saturday, which is likely to be the biggest single day. Democrats traditionally do better in early voting than Republicans, and the last two days could help close the gap.
Also, each side says the other is simply shuffling voters around from one category to another.
Republicans have been urging their supporters to vote early, and they maintained their early vote numbers despite having half as many early voting days. But Democrats say Republicans are simply turning their election-day voters into early voters.
Democrats, meanwhile, sought to make up for the smaller number of early-voting days by urging their supporters to go to local elections offices to request mail-in ballots, which can be voted on the spot but still count as absentees. The result is a major increase in Democratic absentee requests—but Republicans say Democrats are just turning their early voters into absentees.
But at least one expert who compiles figures on early voting nationwide says neither side can truly claim the figures show it’s winning.
“Right now when I look at the numbers, it just looks to me like a close election,” said George Mason University political scientist Michael McDonald.
“To an extent, they’ve nullified each others’ advantages and cancelled each other out. ... If you just look at the overall numbers, it’s going to be decided Election Day.”