Early Voting

EARLY VOTING….Over at Tapped, Garance Franke-Ruta has an interesting rundown of early voting. There are two big takeaways:

  • Lots of people are voting early. In Florida, Iowa, and Tennessee, about a third of all registered voters have already voted.

  • The early voters are breaking pretty heavily for Kerry: 51%-43% in Florida and 52%-41% in Iowa.

Garance is trying to figure out whether this strong preference for Kerry is a result of Kerry supporters disproportionately voting early or whether it genuinely shows a preference for Kerry among the entire electorate. There’s not enough data to say for sure, but my guess is that it’s a bit of both.

That is, due to both the availability of early voting and the closeness of the 2000 race, overall turnout is going to be substantially higher this year than usual, and that favors Kerry. At the same time, memories of Florida combined with news of Republican efforts to suppress voting have probably motivated Kerry voters to vote early in greater numbers than Bush voters due to their distrust of the voting process. (This jibes with the Economist poll last week showing that 90% of Republicans think the election will be fair while only a third of Democrats feel the same way.)

I suspect that the Republican machine has seriously miscalculated this year. Their plan to challenge large numbers of voters on election day may have seemed like a good idea six months ago, but in the end it’s gotten so much publicity that the net result has been to piss off Democrats and make them even more motivated than usual to make sure their votes are counted. Early voting is a good way to do that.

At least, I hope that’s what happening. It would be poetic justice.