Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

[UPDATED] Early Ohio numbers promising for Romney

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney acknowledges the cheers of the crowd at a campaign rally in Avon Lake, Ohio, Oct. 29, 2012. REUTERS

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney acknowledges the cheers of the crowd at a campaign rally in Avon Lake, Ohio, Oct. 29, 2012. REUTERS

UPDATE (11/01/2012): 

McDonald’s site has updated their Ohio early voting numbers, so I conducted a re-examination to see if the pattern I discovered still holds.  It does.  There are now 23 counties in which the percentage of the 2008/2012 early voting ratio equals or exceeds 80 percent.  McCain carried 17 of them, and the six Obama carried are still those in the eastern, blue collar part of the state.  Cincinnati exurban counties Brown and Warren now report their early votes equal 99 and 93 percent, respectively, of the 2008 early vote percentage.

 Large, big margin Obama counties remain at the bottom of the early voting ratio.  Summit (Akron), Lucas (Toledo), Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus) are all near the bottom of this analysis, with between 67 and 69 percent of the 2008 early vote percentage already cast in 2012. 

Barack Obama is clearly winning the early vote in Ohio. But careful analysis of the actual numbers so far suggest very good news for Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign claims the president is merely banking votes he would have received on Election Day anyway, so his early lead isn’t very important. They say their early voting strategy relies on targeting low-voting-propensity Romney supporters for early voting and leaving the others to turn out on Election Day. In other words, they claim Obama’s effort is merely harvesting votes while theirs is creating votes.

This approach makes sense, but it’s hard to prove it’s working without inside campaign information. I think I’ve found a way to do that, and my research shows the Romney effort might be paying off.

To do this, I looked at data from the George Mason University’s United States Election Project. Under the direction of elections scholar Prof. Michael McDonald, the project collects all the publicly available data on the progress of early voting in one place. The project also collects the early voting information from 2008 and provides data on how much of the share of the final turnout came from early voting in 2008 and how much of that turnout has already been cast in 2012.

I hypothesized that if the Romney campaign’s effort is working, the share of the total 2008 early vote that has already been cast should be higher in strong Romney counties than in strong Obama counties. That’s because if the Romney effort works, total turnout in those counties should be up in 2012, the bulk of that coming from the low-voting-propensity supporters who the campaign is asking to cast early ballots.

Through last Friday, that hypothesis is clearly correct:

McDonald’s site reports county-level early voting data from 53 of Ohio’s 88 counties, including all of the state’s largest. Across the state, 57.6 of the 2008 early voting turnout totals had already been cast in 2012. But the percentages are much higher in strong Romney counties than in strong Obama counties.

Twenty-two counties report that early voting in 2012 is already equal or greater than two-thirds the level in 2008. McCain carried sixteen of those, usually with high margins. Obama got more than 55% of the vote in only two of the remaining six, Ashtabula and Trumbull. All of those six are either in coal country or in a corridor from the Pennsylvania border through Canton that the Romney campaign is also targeting.

The numbers are particularly strong for Romney in the southeastern coal country on or near the Ohio River. From Scioto county in the south to Columbiana county in the north, early voting shares range from a low of 63.5% in Monroe to 82.7% in Columbiana. (Athens County, an Obama stronghold because of Ohio University, touches the Ohio River- its early voting share is only 57.4%). To compare, the early voting shares in the largest and strongest Obama counties (Cuyahoga, Lucas, Franklin, Summit, and Lorain) never top 61.0% (Cuyahoga).

Exceptionally strong numbers can also be found in Republican counties in the northwest in the Dayton, Lima, and Toledo media markets. Early voting shares there average in the high sixties, touching as high as 87.5% in Champaign County.

If anything, these numbers underestimate Romney’s strength in early voting because most of the counties not reporting early voting numbers are strongly Republican. McCain carried thirty-two of the thirty-five counties without county-level early voting statistics available on McDonald’s website, and the three carried by Obama are classic Ohio swing counties. The thirty-two McCain counties include two of the four Cincinnati suburban counties, the three biggest Republican counties in the Cleveland media market, and other large, strong GOP counties in the Dayton and Columbus markets.

The data from the two Cincy suburban counties that are available are also good news for Mitt. Exurban Warren and Brown counties report huge early voting compared to 2008- 78.7% of the ’08 level in Warren (McCain carried it with 67%) and a whopping 83.2% in Brown (McCain 61%).

This data is already a few days old: Perhaps more recent updates will change the story. But going into last weekend, Romney’s ground game looks like it was hiking turnout among its supporters better than Obama’s, an edge that could prove crucial if the race there is really a tie, as Sunday’s respected Ohio News poll showed.

111 thoughts on “[UPDATED] Early Ohio numbers promising for Romney

      • Again, my post is not showing, but when I log in and make another comment, it shows up. ??

        I think what John Seet is saying is that Obama is neither sincere or honest.

        • Well…truth be told, he is NOT sincere or honest. Everything he says or does is for himself….Period. He will say whatever he needs to say to get votes. He has gone way overboard insulting Romney and calling names. He WILL lose badly

  1. On the ground in SW OH. What I’ve seen among friends of both parties is absolute fatigue with the calls and the ads this year. People (myself included) who have never voted early before have voted early this year just to try to make the calls stop. People who may have answered the phone earlier in the cycle are just plain DONE at this point and will not answer the phone for anyone they don’t recognize. I’ve seen it in social media and at the office…sentiments of “I voted today – now STOP calling.” We laughed at any polls that showed Obama leading by more than in 2008, because the sense on the ground is that it is a razor-thin race. Friends in Cuyahoga report way less enthusiam than in 2008. Everything that I’ve been seeing and hearing and feeling for the last month appears to be supported by the early-vote numbers…higher in R counties and lower in D counties…much more equalized than in 2008. My fear now is that we will have too many outstanding absentee and provisional ballots to call OH one way or another on Tuesday.

  2. Your analysis is so flawed, it’s laughable. You throw-out a number of huge assumptions – e.g., Obama’s early voters are simply pulling from Election Day voters – that are so far from a sure thing. Only Republicans will be citing to this article because there is nothing objective about it. Take a look at the twenty-plus other articles that cite to terrible news for Romney coming out of Ohio early voting.

    • Michael,

      You claim the author is throwing out “a number of huge assumptions” and then you only list one. You offer no evidence one way or the other that his “assumption” is off base, but yet you claim his entire analysis is flawed.

      That type of argument might win when you are surrounded by low information liberals, but it doesn’t cut it here.

      Also you claim there are 20-plus articles describing “terrible news” for Romney in Ohio early voting, yet again you don’t cite your sources. The articles you are clinging to could very well be as biased as you claim this one to be, but we can not know for sure because you probably just made up that claim. That’s what liberals do when they argue. They just make stuff up. When you have some facts to back up your assertions, then come back and try again.

    • Your 20+ other articles that cite to terrible news for Romney are either uninformed or nonexistent.

      In 2008, 42% of early ballots were cast by Democrats while only 22% were cast by Republicans. Exit polls also showed Obam won independents by 8%. Even with those two huge advantages, Obama only carried Ohio with just over 51% of the vote, because of the huge advantage Republicans have over Democrats in election day turnout.

      This time, 34% of early ballots were cast by Democrats and 28% by Republicans. 15 out of 17 polls show Romney leading Ohio independents, by an average of 9%. And count on Romney’s election day surge to be greater than McCain’s, owing to both organization and enthusiasm.

      Obama is toast in Ohio and all the ludicrous D+9 polls by Obama worshipping organizations like PPP (i.e. the Daily Kos), Marist, Quinnipiac and CNN/ORC do not change what is happening on the ground.

  3. One question that we won’t really know the answer to until election day — how many of those early votes in Obama counties crossed over to vote for Romney this year? I believe a significant number will while virtually none of the McCain vote will go for Obama. Exhibit A is my mother who is a life long Democrat in Lorain County who voted for Obama in 2008 but is voting Romney this time.

  4. To that other moron’s point, I don’t see how Henry is successfully making the case that Romney’s early votes are low-propensity.

    If Romney counties are surging (which seems to be evident), what data suggests that these aren’t just high-propensity voters voting early?

    What data suggests that on Election Day there will be a large reservoir of Rs? Or is that just implied by historically better turnout for Rs?

    • The numbers are the numbers. they don’t lie. Republicans vote on election day as a general rule. Obamas lead is not really a lead. One cannot call it a lead until the amount of votes are equal to each candidate. And the numbers in the end put Romney far ahead. Bye Bye Jug ears Osama…I mean Obama.

  5. This is from the site that is tracking Ohio absentee ballots requests and as of today latest updated Obama has lost 133,843 votes among absentee ballots alone compared to 2012… Obama won Ohio in 2008 by 260,000…

    Obama is certain to lose Ohio…

    Link to the site that track Ohio Absentee ballots:


    In 2008 democrats absentee ballots: 477,388
    In 2012 democrats absentee ballots updated Nov/2/2012: 372,486
    2012 democrat losses in absentee ballots: 104,902

    In 2008 Republican absentee ballots: 260,416
    In 2012 Republican absentee ballots updated Nov/2/2012: 289,357
    2012 Republican gains in absentee ballots: 28,941

    Total democrats absentee ballots losses in 2012 compared to 2008 when factoring in Republican gains: 104,902 + 28,941 = 133,843

    % of democrat losses in absentee ballots in 2012 compared to 2008: 61%…

    It is over in Ohio… Obama is certain to lose Ohio…

  6. With Obama leading 56-41 in early voting.. and with 40% claiming to have already voted, Romney has ALOT of ground to make up on Tuesday. Looks like a longshot to me.

    • In fact the actual early voting according to Ohio Secretary of State is 26% not 40% so a lot of people are lying about voting early… Also even if we assume that 56-41 lead for Obama is correct according to Rasmussen Ohio poll and 40% have voted then Romney has to be leading those who would vote on Elections Day by 55-45 in order to get the poll to tie at 49% each…

      Look at my previous post below and notice that in 2012 Obama has lost in the absentee ballots alone almost 134,000 votes compared to 2008… He won Ohio in 2008 by 260,000 votes… I am certain that with the total vote Obama loss in Ohio compared to 2008 would be at 400,000 votes and hence he is going to lose Ohio…

  7. This site is crazy. I don’t have time to post a comment to see what responses to my other posts are.

    All I’m doing is piling up comments that are invisible to me……unless I’m logged in and make another one.

  8. I live in NC. I am a Romney fan. Obama has done his best to look after only the deadbeats and himself. It is amazing to me that this race is so close. Obama is a man that lacks more than character. If he is re-elected American will be changed forever. Health care, education, small business, jobs, salaries will only go down hill. Please, OHIO, vote Romney!

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