Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Search Site

Democrats dominate early voting in key states

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WASHINGTON —  Democrats are dominating early voting in six key states President Bush won four years ago, forcing Republican John McCain to play catch-up even before Election Day arrives.

Democrats outnumber Republicans among early voters in Iowa, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, according to statistics from election and party officials in those states. Bush won all six in 2004, and McCain needs to win most of them to claim the White House this year.

Georgia, another red state, doesn't track early voters by party, but it does by race. About 1.4 million Georgians have already cast ballots, and blacks are voting in disproportionate numbers. Black voters overwhelmingly support Democrat Barack Obama, who is bidding to become the nation's first black president.

Voters can always cross party lines and no vote totals are announced until Election Day, but the early indications clearly favor Obama. It is unclear, however, whether they will translate into success on Nov. 4 because never before have so many Americans cast their votes before Election Day.

In Florida, for example, voting lines have been so long that Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order Tuesday extending early voting hours.

About a third of voters are expected to vote early this year, up from 22 percent in the last presidential election. More than 15 million voters have already cast ballots, according to statistics compiled by Michael P. McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University.

"This is off the charts in some of these states," McDonald said. "They already have record turnout (among early voters) in some states."

But is Obama, who is using his fundraising superiority on a massive early voting campaign, merely eating into the number of votes he would otherwise receive on Election Day? Or is McCain, who trails in most polls, falling perilously behind as Election Day approaches?

McDonald said the McCain campaign is digging itself a dangerously deep hole in states the Arizona senator cannot afford to lose. "We have yet to see the Republicans really gear up their get-out-the-vote campaign," McDonald said.

However, he noted that Democrat John Kerry led among early voters in Iowa in the 2004 presidential race, only to lose the state to Bush on Election Day.

Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, hopes McCain will do the same in numerous states this year.

"We will send out over 200 million pieces of mail and have over a quarter of a billion contacts, counting the mail, the phones and the door knocks," Duncan said. "These are numbers we've never been able to reach before."

McDonald said the Republicans' massive get-out-the-vote campaign "took us all by surprise in 2004, and it could happen again. But this is a juggernaut operation that the Obama campaign has."

Democrats argue they have an advantage in voter enthusiasm, which helped them register far more new voters this year than the Republicans. Obama's campaign is turning the registration operation into a formidable get-out-the-vote effort.

Absentee voting used to be reserved mainly for people unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, whether they were sick, away on business or serving in the military. This year, more than 30 states allow any registered voter to cast an early ballot, some in person and others by mail.

A look at early voting in key states:

_Florida: About 2.6 million people have already voted in a state where absentee ballots overwhelmingly favored George W. Bush in the razor-thin 2000 election. Among those voting so far this year, 45 percent are registered Democrats and 39 percent Republicans.

_North Carolina: About 1.6 million people have already voted _ 54 percent are registered Democrats and 29 percent are Republicans. About 100,000 newly registered voters have signed up and voted at North Carolina's one-stop voting centers, McDonald said. Among them, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 2-1, he said.

_Iowa: About 370,000 people have already voted _ 49 percent are registered Democrats and 29 percent are Republicans.

_Colorado: About 815,000 people have voted _ 39 percent are registered Democrats and 37 percent are Republicans.

_Nevada: About 342,000 people have already voted in Clark and Washoe Counties, which contain nearly 90 percent of the state's population. Among those voters, 53 percent are registered Democrats and 30 percent are Republicans.

_New Mexico: About 111,000 people have voted in Bernalillo County, the state's largest. Among them, 55 percent are registered Democrats and 33 percent are Republicans.

_Georgia: Black voters make up about 35 percent of those who have already voted _ a big increase from the 2004 election, when 25 percent of the state's electorate was black. Blacks voted for Obama by ratio of 9-1 in Georgia's Democratic primary this year.


Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., and The Associated Press' Election Research and Quality Control Group in New York contributed to this report.


On the Net:



Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



most active