The media polls showing Obama with a solid and consistent lead over Mitt Romney are only accurate IF the democrats equal or improve the turnout they had in 2008. That year, the Democrats had a 7 point advantage over the GOP at the voting booth. It was the Democrats biggest advantage over the GOP in the modern political age. I have long argued that the Democrats were unlikely to repeat their turnout advantage this year. Preliminary data from some key swing states suggests I’m right.
In 2008, in the critical battleground of OH, Democrats had a 14-point advantage over the GOP on absentee ballot requests. McCain actually won the vote on election day in the state, but Obama’s advantage on early voting was so large we was able to win the state. This year, however, the Dem advantage is down to just 5 points so far.
In virtually every county in Ohio, the GOP have improved their position over 2008. In the largest counties, their position relative to Dems has improved 6-27 points. If these numbers hold up over the next few weeks, there is no way Dems will have another big turnout advantage over the GOP in OH.
In North Carolina, absentee ballot requests are much higher this year than in 2008. 25,000 North Carolinians have already returned their ballot. GOP voters have returned more than half the ballots, 13k, almost double the Democrats 7k ballots. At this point in 2008, only 9k GOP voters had returned ballots.
Democrats also have a narrowing advantage in Iowa this year. 77k more Democrats than Republicans have participated in early voting so far. But, their advantage last week was over 100k. Both are much lower than the 150k advantage they had in 2008. It isn’t much higher than the 60k advantage they had in 2004–when Bush went on to win the state.
Obviously, there are still several weeks until election day. The Democrats have a large field operation that can get its supporters to the polls. But, so does the Romney campaign, who has already far surpassed the number of voter contacts made by the entire McCain campaign. Early signs indicate that Democrats will not enjoy the big turnout advantage they had in 2008. If not, then Obama’s reelection is in critical shape.