Final Early Voting Numbers

Late yesterday Aaron Blake of WaPo’s The Fix put out the final version of his Early Vote Tracker by state. You can review the whole thing over there, but what surprised me a bit is that the overall levels of early voting were very high–over half of the 2008 vote, which likely means an even higher percentage of the eventual 2012 vote–in North Carolina and Florida, aside from the expected astronomical levels in Colorado and Nevada. Iowa’s early voting also came in high, at 41.5% of the 2008 vote. Then you have a notable drop-off to Ohio at 28.8%, and then an even bigger drop-off to the rest of the battleground states (Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, all coming in at under 10%).

In terms of the composition of the early vote, we have no solid data for states without party registration (Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin), and New Hampshire just doesn’t make information on its very limited early voting available.

On the states where we do have data on the party registration of early voters, Blake offers this handy generalization:

Here’s the overarching takeaway: In basically every state where we have good data available, Democrats performed worse than they did in 2008 but better than they did in 2010. And if you extrapolate the shift to the entire statewide vote, we’ve got a very close race in store.

The big variable we don’t know, of course, is the extent to which either party’s early voters are low-propensity, high-propensity, or just regular old run-of-the-mill voters. And that makes any extrapolation from early voting numbers to the final vote perilous.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.