Two competing views of the Romney/Obama ground games and early vote trends
What follows are two views of the ground games and early vote trends from the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. Bottom line, is that team Romney argues that its campaign is going after less reliable voters to cast ballots early, rather than waste time chasing early votes from supporters certain to vote anyway.
Ashley Walker, director of the Florida Obama campaign, makes I think a more persuasive case that Democrats in Florida are significantly cutting into traditional GOP advantages on absentee votes.
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Rich Beeson, Political Director
DATE: Monday, October 15, 2012
RE: Who is early voting and what it means in the presidential campaign
Yesterday morning, a poll was released that claimed President Obama has a “big advantage” over Governor Romney among those
who have already voted. This claim can easily be proved flawed and untrue.
To begin, it is important to outline a key distinction between how the campaigns are approaching the early vote. This can be
determined not by asking “how many ballots have been cast;” instead, by asking “who has cast their ballot”? Many of the
Democratic ballots are from high propensity voters who would almost certainly be voting on Election Day – meaning that President
Obama is cannibalizing his turnout on November 6th. Governor Romney’s early voting effort has been, and will continue to be,
focused on low propensity voters, which means his Election Day turnout will not be negatively impacted by the early vote program.
First and foremost, only 5% of early voting has completed. In 2008, nearly 16,000,000 votes were cast before Election Day in the
swing states. So far this cycle, just over 950,000 votes have been cast – or 6.01%. Therefore, 94% of all early votes have not even
been cast yet. To claim a “big advantage” based off of a phase that’s just 6% complete is almost as absurd as predicting the outcome
of a baseball game after the second out.
Setting timing aside, this was a national poll conducted online with a margin of error around 10%. National polls do not capture
the actual state of the race (especially as it relates to swing states) and aside from the usual hesitations with online polls, the margin
of error should raise serious questions as to the poll’s accuracy.
Further examination shows just 361 people account for the entire nation’s sample of early voters. Even worse, only 115 of the
people (or 31.8%) make up the sample in the swing states. So not only is the sample extremely small – but it’s meant to represent
the votes of over 950,000 people who have already cast a ballot.
Perhaps most troubling is that, on average, less than 10 people per swing state made up the sample. This is hardly an accurate
representation of those who have already cast a ballot – and it certainly isn’t an adequate indicator of an “advantage” for one
candidate over another. The largest sample for a swing state was Florida at just 22 people. And in the states of New Hampshire and
New Mexico, just two people were surveyed. In Colorado, a state where approximately 79% of every vote cast in 2008 came before
Election Day, the poll only surveyed four people – but what should baffle observers here is that early voting has not even begun for
the general population yet (only military).
Despite what this poll has claimed, it is clear that Governor Romney is poised to over-perform among those who will vote before
Election Day. In swing states that have party registration, ballots cast belonging to registered Democrats only hold a 6% margin over
those cast by registered Republicans. Furthermore, of the approximate 6.7 million voters in those states who have requested
ballots, but have yet to return them, Republicans narrowly edge Democrats (GOP: 2.12 million, DEM: 2.02).
Although still early in the process, our campaign continues to be encouraged by the initial requests and returns we have seen. That,
coupled with the Governor’s momentum and his advantage among enthusiastic voters, undeniably puts President Obama in an
extremely compromising situation with just over three weeks remaining in the election.
TO: INTERESTED PARTIES
FROM: ASHLEY WALKER, OBAMA FOR AMERICA STATE DIRECTOR – FLORIDA
DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2012
RE: WINNING ON THE GROUND
The day after Barack Obama won Florida’s then-27 electoral votes in 2008, Organizing for America began engaging Floridians in an ongoing conversation with our supporters and open-minded residents about supporting the President’s agenda and working to re-elect him in 2012.
In the process, the hard working grassroots volunteers of OFA-FL have worked to build the largest grassroots organization in state history.
The facts are truly remarkable:
· Organizing for America has opened 103 offices in the state.
· More than 20,000 people completed the extensive voter registration training required before volunteers could register voters.
Vote Now and Absentee Ballots
Compared with the same date in 2008, the Republicans’ traditional advantage in vote-by-mail has shrunk by 67% from R +249,813 to just R +61,456.
In 2008, Republicans built up a huge advantage in vote-by-mail which Democrats obliterated during in-person early vote to win the state by 3 percentage points. In 2012, Republicans have a much more difficult task ahead since they have already ceded two-thirds of the vote-by-mail advantage they started with four years ago.
Mail Ballots Requested by This Date in 2008 and 2012
2008 2012 Change
Democrats 524,557 838,865 D +314,308
Republicans 774,370 900,321 R +125,951
Difference R +249,813 R +61,456 D +188,357
Working with local Supervisors of Elections (SOE), we have worked to make it easier for Floridians to vote with our in-person absentee voting initiative Vote Now! which encourages voters to simply go to their local SOE office, request a ballot and vote in person. Most Florida counties are allowing their residents to vote this way, and thanks to OFA-FL’s Vote Now! efforts, we expect to continue to significantly outperform 2008’s voting record prior to the start of Early Voting.
The largest ever voter registration effort in Florida history – by Organizing for America – has led to a net increase in the number of Democratic registrations compared with the number of Republican registrations every single month for the last five months. This improvement has been driven by a substantial gain in the percentage of Hispanic voters registering as Democrats. In fact, while the total number of registered Hispanics has increased by more than 195,000 since August and less than 18,000 of those are Republican. This means just 9% of the increase in Hispanic registrations was accounted for by Republicans. The other 91% accrued to Democrats and independents.
Voter Registration Among Hispanics
FL Division of Elections
Nov 2008 Aug 2012 Change
Democrats 513,252 592,434 D +79,182 +15%
Republicans 445,526 463,298 R +17,772 +4%
Difference D +67,726 D +129,136 D +61,410 +91%
The African-American and Caribbean-American registered voter population increased by more than 50,000. The number of non-Hispanic white registered voters actually fell by 44,000.
Voter Registration by Ethnicity
FL Division of Elections
Nov 2008 Aug 2012 Change
Hispanic 1,355,270 1,550,635 +195,365 +14%
AfAm & CaribbeanAm 1,468,682 1,519,404 +50,722 +3%
Non-Hispanic White 7,773,419 7,729,110 -44,309 -1%
With these facts taken into account it serves as a reminder that on Election Day, the race in Florida is always close. Since 1992, nearly 33 million ballots have been cast in presidential elections in Florida, while the average separation between the two parties over those five presidential elections is less than 60 thousand votes.
It is also worth noting that the Presidential incumbent has won Florida in every re-election since 1984. Thanks to our volunteer-driven grassroots operation, and the voter registration efforts undertaken by OFA-FL, President Obama is extremely well positioned to continue this trend and win the state Florida.