Absentee ballot data not looking good for Democrats

One of the keys to Barack Obama’s victory in Ohio in 2008 was the early voting game. Ohio Democrats tapped into the enthusiasm advantage they had and got their voters to vote early in overwhelming numbers. On election day itself, John McCain actually won. But Obama had such a large lead with votes already banked, that he won Ohio and put the nail in McCain’s coffin.

We have analyzed some polls this year that used ridiculous samples with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 8 points or more. For example, a recent NBC/WSJ/Marist poll used a Dem +10 sample, and the latest Ohio poll used a preposterous sample with 48% Democrats.

We have argued that these polls are not accurate because in 2008, which was the height of the blue Obama wave, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 8 points on election day. One of our trolls countered that since every single voter got an absentee ballot application in the mail this year, that Democrat turnout would further increase.

Some early numbers are in on absentee ballot requests, so how is that working our for the Democrats so far? Not so good.

In 2008, total early votes cast in Ohio totaled 1,023,330. 34% of those were Democrats, 20% were Republicans, and the rest were independents or other parties. Democrats had a 14-point advantage.

So far this year, there have been 528,197 applications sent in for absentee ballots. The party breakdown at this point is 29% Democrats and 23% Repulicans. The difference is down to 6 points. For the Ohio Democratic Party who was counting on matching their early voting performance from 4 years ago, that’s very bad news.

Let’s look at the three largest counties.

In Cuyahoga, the dropoff isn’t so bad for them. Their 2008 advantage of 37 points is down to 30. But the news is really bad in Franklin County. Their 5-point advantage from 2008 has actually reversed. So far, Republicans ballot apps outnumber Dems by 5. And in Hamilton County, the Republican advantage of 7 points from 2008 has increased to 14 points.

The 2008 numbers also include in-person early voting, which has not yet begun yet for 2012. Will this trend continue as October rolls on? Only time will tell. But these initial numbers must be discouraging for Ohio Dems.

As always, this election is going to come down to turnout. We got beat badly on the ground in 2008. As of a couple of weeks ago, our side had already surpassed the number of voter contacts made during all of the 2008 season. We are doing much better, but we could still use more help.

Get. In. Volved. If you do, we will propel Mitt Romney to a victory over Barack Obama in Ohio this year.

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Author: Nick

I was born and raised in Ohio. After growing up in the Columbus area, I moved to Cleveland to study at Case Western Reserve University, and have lived in Northeast Ohio ever since. I live in Wellington with my wife and son. I work in the private sector and have never worked in the political field.

31 thoughts on “Absentee ballot data not looking good for Democrats”

  1. I support Romney and would love to be optimistic, but you guys had better watch what conclusions you draw from this data.

    If I remember correctly (and several people from the Columbus boards remember it the same way), the absentee ballot application included a postage paid envelope in 2008. The one I mailed back just days ago required a stamp. I wouldn’t be surprised if this change alone accounts for a significant number of people not turning in their ballot applications.

    1. I would say that is a profound statement on voter enthusiasm. “I didn’t vote because I didn’t have a stamp handy and couldn’t find time to get down to the early voting location during the month it was open before election day…”

    1. The point is that if you don’t have money, you probably don’t have a lot of extra stamps lying around.

      If it didn’t cost anything to return absentee ballots last time, and if it does cost money to return absentee ballots this time, that might be why less Democrats are asking for absentee ballots this time around.

      That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t show up to the polls on election day.

      Furthermore, don’t absentee ballots skew Republican in the first place?

    2. FEWER, not less. My inner grammar snob wants me to remind you that things you can count, like minutes, are described as “fewer” and things you would measure, like time, are described as “less”.

    3. My inner usage snob wants me to remind you that “fewer” not “less” is a “usage” correction, not a “grammar” correction.

  2. Yeah, I’m guessing the Dems are enamored with participatory democracy and plan to proudly show up to vote IN PERSON on Nov 7th.
    I say we respect that choice.
    Dems: see you on the 7th!

  3. Greetings from blue blue Mass via Instapundit.

    Republicans are more likely to buy a stamp than democrats are, IMO. Even with massive union mail efforts, every republican who requests one will return it while only a high percentage of democrats will.

  4. Vote early, vote often, make sure you mail back the filled in absentee ballots of your once-alive relatives. Illinoians, please vote in Ohio, and Wisconsin. You don’t need no stinking voter IDs.

    1. Not correct. You have to supply some data (drivers license number or last four digits of your SS#, your DOB, and a signature in order to get your absentee ballot. It is mailed to your registered address, and must be returned with the voter again providing identifying information. The signature is compared to the one listed in the precinct signature book. Is it possible to commit election fraud? Yes. Is it easy? No.

  5. I hate to say it; but all things considered you should keep this quiet. Let the left keep using their bogus models thinking they are pushing down republican enthusiasm… while they forget to get these absentee voters to vote or fill out them all out for the dead people or whatever they do.

  6. Absentee ballots are meaningless as a predictor of final outcome. They consist of military and out of state work assignments.

    In other words people who love the US and people who work for a living: the core of the Republican vote.

    The anti-American scum and professional parasites who make up the democrat party vote will be over-represented in the non-absentee ballot.

  7. I noticed a couple of comments above that R’s are the majority of absentee ballots. Not according to the post you are commenting on … Read paragraph 5. 34 to 20 D vs. R.

  8. The State of Ohio never provided postage-paid absentee ballots. I don’t know if Cuyahoga County BOE provided free postage in 2008, but they are not doing it this year. So if you apply for an absentee ballot in Ohio you avoid standing in line at the polls only to have to stand in line at the Post Office. And the postage is over $1 to mail in your absentee ballot. (Now, if you are an election worker and you happen to take in your completed absentee ballot to the poll worker training class you can get your friendly BOE officials to take your ballot to the BOE for free!)

  9. I was pretty bummed about the latest Columbus Dispatch poll. A lead of 9% is pretty huge.

    I did not miss the fact that it contained the huge oversampling of Dem voters — but according to the pollster’s write up that resulted from the fact that more Dems returned the CDP questionnaire that did Repubs.

    Assuming this is a truthful statement by the CDP — i.e., that the recipients of the questionnaires are RANDOMLY selected from a likely (or is it registered) voter data base — what accounts for the 7% Dem over sample? I’m not sure about the actual Ohio registered voter data base but expect there are more Dems than Repubs – not sure about that. Even so it is not a 7% advantage I feel certain.

    So maybe it is a measure of voter enthusiasm and more Dems were motivated enough to mail it back in? That in itself is a shocker as heretofore this year all signs reported that we had the edge in that department?

  10. I don’t think we’re going to make it to NOV 6th. If the DEMS sense that they miight lose in a fair election, watch for an OCTOBER SURPRISE where a crisis is declared, martial law invoked, and the elections suspended by Executive Order. Don’t think it can happen here? Remember that the Cockroach-in-Chief is capable of ANYTHING…

    1. Does anyone on this forum know how you can get data on the final percentages of each party that participated in the various state or national elections? Getting a breakdown of voter registration for a state is easy enough. But I’ve looked for it I never see a break out of the party identification mix in the final, and most important poll — i.e., the election itself.

  11. Just an FYI that your piece was one of the more popular posts today on Hubski http://hubski.com/pub?id=42326 and sparked some interesting conversation. Take care and good luck to all you Ohioans. As a fellow mid-westerner, I know it’s rough right now.

  12. Just when I don’t think Nick could write any dumber. You do realize that Republicans have always had an edge in by mail early votes because Democratic voters, particularly African American voters, prefer in-person early voting? So the fact that Democrats are leading in overall absentee ballot request by mail is a BAD thing for the Republicans?

    Even the chart you link to OPENLY disclaims that it’s too early to read anything into these numbers for these very reasons.

    This isn’t bad news for the Democratic Party at all, at least to anyone who actually has studied partisan early voting patterns. If anything, it suggests that the Democrats have an even greater early vote advantage than they had in 2008.

    1. we can always count on Modern Failure to show up and put his ignorance on full display. What you said makes no mathematical sense. Did you just make it up?

      You just said that Republicans win the mail-in vote, but then lose the overall absentee vote because Democrats, particularly blacks, vote early in-person, and overwhelm the mail-in vote.

      OK, so let’s look at the absentee vote in Cuyahoga County, which had a huge absentee turnout in 2008 and a large black population.

      Mail-in votes were EIGHTY PERCENT of the total absentee vote. Hear that? Only 1 in 5 absentee ballots in the county were early in-person votes.

      So how could the Republicans have won 80% of the absentee vote, but still lost the total absentee vote by 37 points?


      Further, you are the one who said that since EVERY registered voter in the state will get an absentee ballot application, that DEMOCRAT turnout would INCREASE.

      So, you are now contradicting your own words.

      Double Derp.

  13. 1) Democrats do push early voting. Look at the Ohio stats from 2008 early voting below. Republicans like to vote closer to the election and in-person.

    “In 2008, total early votes cast in Ohio totaled 1,023,330. 34% of those were Democrats, 20% were Republicans, and the rest were independents or other parties. Democrats had a 14-point advantage.”

    2) The spreadsheet trends for each county are NOT showing the trends of 2008. The ballot requests from Republican-dominated counties are much higher than 2008, those from Democratic-dominated counties are much lower. Does this seem like the 2008 blowout pattern for Democrats? Not if the trends hold, and they have been so far.

    For example, in 2008, absentee ballot requests ran 3:1 Democrat in Montgomery County, a swing county including Dayton. Today? Democratic ballot requests are about 9,000, Republicans 8,000.

    In Franklin County, which Obama won by 21 points, Democrats are trailing by 6000 votes (5%) and the margin is slowly increasing every day.

    In heavily-Democratic Cuyahoga (including Cleveland), Republican absentee ballot requests have already exceeded their 2008 numbers. In 2008, Democrat absentee ballot requests went 3:1 over Republicans, now it’s 2:1 and underperforming.

    At the minimum, the 2008 trends that won the state of Ohio for Obama are not showing this time around. I think this is making Obama supporters like “Modern Esquire” very nervous.

  14. @ margaret: Interesting post. I’ve been watching that table. Do you happen to know what the relative numbers for Rep vs. Dem vs. Ind are on the current Ohio voter registration rolls? I’m asking because the Columbus Dispatch claims it sends out their presidential preference poll questionnaires to randomly selected names off a likely voters screen. I’m still puzzled as to why they got a +7% Dem return. A true random sample would mean that questionnaires would be received by percentages approximately the same a the State voter rolls. If anything most polls show more interest in the election by Reps?

  15. Margaret, the fact that you claim Republicans vote more in person and Democrats more in absentee shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Furthermore, this chart only includes HALF of the total number of absentee ballot requests in (Nick said 500k, SoS reports nearly a million). Also, why would I be nervous that the early vote method that has long favored Republicans is showing the same partisan turnout as the overall turnout of the 2008 Democratic tide election in Ohio?!?

  16. Modern Esquire said more mail-in ballots would increase Democrat turnout, and then said that Republicans win the mail-in vote?

    What a moron.

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