Early signs and portents on Election Day
Update: Brit Hume on Fox News notes that Mitt Romney is “holding up pretty well among households with a government employee,” which could have repercussions in Virginia.
Update: Rich Lowry of National Review relayed some early voting data that the Romney campaign finds “encouraging.” Among the more interesting findings: Republicans appear to be over-performing their absentee ballot share in 95 of Iowa’s 99 counties, and actually outperforming the excellent 2004 returns in 75 of those counties; Democrats appear to have “cannibalized their base” to boost early turnout in their Iowa strongholds.
Red counties in Florida are reporting record turnout levels… but the Republican turnout in bellwether Pasco County is also said to be overwhelming Democrats by “nearly two to one,” while activity looks to be down in Democrat-friendly Miami-Dade.
Although Nevada was looking dicey for Romney at the dawn of Election Day, it appears that vote totals in the Democrat stronghold of Clark County are “lower than expected,” while turnout in Republican-friendly rural counties is high.
34 counties in Ohio where McCain won in 2008 are reporting at least a 20 percent increase in absentee and early votes over 2008, while only 9 of Obama’s 2008 counties have reported similar surges. Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary, said on Twitter that “my sources who know Ohio are telling me turnout is equal to and greater than Bush 2004.”
Western Pennsylvania, whose coal industry has been targeted for destruction by Barack Obama, is “turning out in historic numbers.” The bellwether Northern Bucks County is “coming out strong for the GOP,” and Republican stronghold areas are also looking good. A similar pattern of strength in Republican areas is reported from Virginia.
Update: On CNN this afternoon, Paul Begala discussed the apparent drop in enthusiasm for Obama among younger voters, and called it “concerning” to the President’s campaign.
Update: Some turnout information in Ohio, courtesy of the Republican National Committee: Geauga County, which John McCain won with 57 percent of the vote in 2008, reports 125 percent of its 2008 early voting totals; while Athens County, which Obama carried strongly in 2008, is down by 10 percent.
Update: Here’s the reception Mitt Romney got when he arrived in Pittsburgh. That’s a parking garage stuffed full of people waiting to greet him.
It takes a lot of anecdotes to accumulate into critical mass and become “data,” and in any event we’ll know the election results soon enough. But an interesting account comes from a correspondent in Wisconsin who proved an invaluable source of information during the Scott Walker recall drama: “Liberal areas of the state are seeing very light turn out, much lighter than for the Walker recall. Conservative areas are seeing very heavy turnout, far heavier than for the Walker recall. I think we are seeing a continuation of the “recall” against Gov. Walker, only it is in the form of voting for Romney, only this time, the Dems aren’t showing up.”
He also reports seeing a healthy number of college students holding Romney/Ryan signs, and relays local talk radio discussions reinforcing the impression of great enthusiasm in Republican areas of Wisconsin, while activity in Democrat strongholds such as Madison and Milwaukee is down.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, early voting numbers put Republicans about 3 percent ahead. A well-pleased Romney campaign notes that Democrats had a 1.3 percent edge in 2008.
Jim Geraghty at National Review checks in with news from Ohio: “Obama is under-performing in Kerry-Obama counties, and Republicans are outperforming in McCain 08 counties. As of yesterday, in swing Hamilton County, there are 1,000 fewer Democrat and 800 more GOP early/absentee votes than at this point in 08.”
For whatever it’s worth, Mitt Romney isn’t taking Election Day off. CNN notes that he “will embark upon a last-minute push for votes in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” stops which were added to his schedule on Monday afternoon. The Romney campaign says the purpose of these stops is primarily to thank volunteers for their efforts. It’s tough to say whether last-minute campaigning is a sign of desperation, a serious bid to tip close races, or perhaps even an effort to generate good “optics” by reminding voters of Romney’s work ethic.