The news from Gallup hasn’t been very good for Barack Obama over the last few weeks. No candidate holding a Gallup polling lead as wide as Mitt Romney’s for several weeks in a row, this close to the election, has ever lost. Granted, that sounds like one of those political rules that will hold true right up until it doesn’t – the accuracy of various polls is a topic of much discussion every election season.
But Monday’s Gallup update also drops this little Three Musketeers bar of dismay into the President’s trick-or-treat bag: about 15 percent of registered voters nationwide have already voted early, and Mitt Romney has a wide lead among early voters, 52 to 45 percent. That closely tracks with his 51-46 lead in the national Gallup poll. Also, a slightly higher percentage of Romney voters indicated they have either already voted, or plan to vote early (2 percent and 1 percent more, respectively) and 4 percent more Republicans have voted early. The total percentage of early voters is roughly comparable to what it was in 2008.
This is not at all consistent with the story peddled by Obama-friendly media outlets for the past few weeks. Reading from Obama campaign press releases, they’ve been insisting Obama has a big lead among early voters, and a massive surge of early votes has been flooding in. There’s a very specific reason for pushing that narrative: it’s supposed to offset the despair among Obama’s base as they watch the best national polling outfits track a powerful shift of momentum in Romney’s favor, giving him a solid lead. Democrats are meant to be heartened by the notion that their candidate already has a big “secret lead” tucked into his electoral bank, thanks to early voting.
In reality, there are about as many early voters as last time, and nationally they appear to favor Romney. At the swing state level, Bloomberg News claims Democrat early voting leads in Iowa and Nevada, while Republicans are ahead in Colorado. The picture is said to be “more muddled in the bigger swing states of Ohio and Florida,” although a Time poll gave Democrats an early voting lead in Ohio.
Bloomberg’s assertion of a Democrat lead in Iowa is based primarily on the claims of Obama campaign manager David Axelrod, and the assessment of a professor from George Mason University, although the actual numbers cited in the article for Iowa are 44.6 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, and 23.3 percent independent. Romney leads by anywhere from 8 to 15 points among independent voters in most polls. That would make the Iowa early-voting edge for Democrats thin at best. The Bloomberg article is nevertheless entitled “Democrats Hold Early-Voting Advantage Over Republicans.”