FOX News Poll: The Changing Look Of Voting

Voting—it’s not just for Election Day anymore!

While the vast majority of American voters (67 percent) will trod to the polls in the traditional manner on Tuesday, millions have already done so and millions more also plan to cast an early ballot. According to a new FOX News poll, almost one-quarter of the sample (22 percent) say they have already voted in the presidential election and another 11 percent plan to do so before next Tuesday.

Among those who say they have already voted, Obama holds a 52 percent to 43 percent lead over McCain.

More than seven in ten voters (71 percent) say they will wait in line “as long as it takes” to cast their vote—a solid indication of just how captivated Americans are by this election.

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 924 likely voters for FOX News from October 28 to October 29. The poll has a 3-point error margin. "Likely voters" are registered voters who are considered more likely to vote in the November presidential election.

As in previous elections, the major television networks—including FOX News—will be conducting exit polling as voters emerge from polling places across America. Will voters take the time to talk to exit pollsters? This new survey suggests most will.

In fact, a plurality (39 percent) says they’d be “very likely” to participate, with another 29 percent say “somewhat likely.” A little over one-quarter of likely voters (28 percent) say they would be—to some degree—less likely to allow themselves to be interviewed.

A significantly higher proportion of Obama supporters (46 percent) than McCain supporters (35 percent) say they’d be “very likely” to cooperate with exit pollsters.

Saying you’re going to vote and actually doing it are two quite different things. Both the Obama and McCain campaigns have vigorous voter contact efforts to insure that good intentions turn into real voter participation. The poll finds that Obama has been more successful in reaching likely voters—with 13 percent saying they have been contacted by his campaign operation. On the flip side, only 7 percent of likely voters say they’ve been reached by the McCain campaign.

About one voter in five (18 percent) claims to have been contacted by the “get out the vote” effort of both campaigns. Interestingly, among those who have already voted, Obama campaign contact outweighed McCain campaign contact by a hefty 18 percent to 5 percent margin.

This “contact advantage” may have something to do with the fact that almost seven in ten likely voters (69 percent)—regardless of who they might vote for—think Obama will win the election. Some 23 percent think McCain will emerge victorious after November 4th. Even among those identifying themselves as Republicans, the Obama “inevitability factor” holds sway—as a slim plurality of Republican voters think the Illinois senator will be victorious on Tuesday (46 percent to 45 percent). And even McCain voters see their candidate as the likely winner by just the slimmest of margins (45 percent to 44 percent).

Is the outcome of the presidential race being shaped by media coverage and polling information? Voters actually take a divided view on this. Slightly more than half of likely voters (52 percent) think that “most” national media outlets are trying to push the outcome in Obama’s favor—while four in ten (40 percent) think the media are just trying to give an honest assessment of things.

Voters take a kinder view toward pollsters—as just over half (52 percent) believe they are trying to give an honest assessment of the election. However, more than one-third (35 percent) think polling firms are making Obama’s lead seem larger to help insure his victory. Both of these assessments of media and polling “fairness” break along predictable party lines.

All in all, the intense interest in this unique presidential race seems to be re-shaping how Americans vote.

Ernie Paicopolos is a Principal at Opinion Dynamics Corporation