Photo of the Day: Early Voting Edition

By Al Giordano

This photo - make sure to credit photographer Lisa Bocook and The Field - is so about go viral.

It comes with a dispatch from North Carolina Field Hand Mark Tyson, in the western mountain region:

The guy who created these signs is named Clinton Slagle. He's got a confederate tattoo on his arm. He strolled into our headqtrs back during the primary looking for a sign, saying Obama was the only person who made any sense to him....

Mark adds:

In the meantime, we're still focusing on early voting. I'm tracking our local early turnout numbers vs overall turnout in 2004 for Swain County.  My private target is 50% early vote vs 2004 overall, and so far, we're tracking slightly ahead of the pace needed to hit that. We'll see....

NCDem at DKos sees a potential for banking as much as half the North Carolina vote prior to Election Day:

I predict that we will approach the 70% mark in total votes, which will be a huge destruction of previous marks. I'll also predict that we have almost 50% of the total votes completed before November 4th.

And early voting is now spreading to other swing states. From Chuck Todd and company at NBC:

Over the weekend two states -- Texas and Nevada -- started voting without excuse. And today, voters in seven more states -- including battlegrounds Colorado (where Palin is today) and Florida (where Obama and Hillary Clinton are together) -- can go to the polls. Also, Nevada political guru Jon Ralston noted that the early-voting returns in his state seem to be in Dems' favor. "Of the 25,000-plus who voted early, 15,644 were Democrats and 5,721 were Republicans, according to Clark County Election Department records. If that trends holds, this won't be a wave; it'll be a tsunami. Republicans had a lead on the first day of mail ballot tallying -- 5,407 to 4,947. So overall, it's 20,591 to 11,128." 

Ben Smith notes - and it's true - that Democrats always boast about early voting, citing a 2004 Las Vegas Review News story:

In Clark County, Democrats voted in greater numbers than Republicans on each of the first three days of the 14-day early voting period. Overall, Democrats had a lead of 2,104 voters.

Democrats increased turnout on each of the days, edging Republicans 45 to 41 percent Saturday, 45 to 40 percent Sunday and 46 to 40 percent Monday.

I'm surprised, though, that the usually observant Smith missed two illuminating points:

1. The statistically signficant gap between the '04 numbers in Clark County and the '08 numbers today: Democrats have gone from 45 percent of ballots cast by Democratic voters on the first two days of early voting four years ago to 62 percent on Saturday and Sunday. That's a Democratic advance of 40 percent over its '04 numbers. And GOP voters don't seem to be too motivated in Greater Vegas: they went from 40.5 percent of ballots cast in the first two days of '04 to just 23 percent this past weekend (apparently Palin has not, contrary to the spin, "fired up the base" in that part of the country; maybe it's not "pro-American" enough, Governor?). And with Democrats tied with Republicans in Clark County absentee ballots - that's the senior citizen population, mainly, where McCain does better on paper - I'd agree with Ralston's sense that there's an upset brewing in Nevada.

(Update: Smith has added a second post on the matter, making that very point.)

2. The first two days of early voting in Clark County were prescient indicators of the final result four years ago. Think of it this way: the earliest two days of early voting in Clark County four years ago showed a five point advantage for Democrats, and Kerry won 52 percent there to Bush's 47, a five percent margin. More than 60 percent of the Nevada vote comes from Clark County (Las Vegas metropolitan area).

So, Kerry lost Nevada by about 22,000 votes, while winning Clark County by 26,000. That means that in the rest of the state he had a deficit of 48,000 votes.

Even if turnout stays only at 2004 levels (about 800,000 voters, 500,000 of them in Clark County), if we project the difference between early voting by party affiliation onto the eventual result, that means potentially that Obama might rack up a 150,000 vote margin of victory this time in Clark County. To offset that, McCain would have to win 75 percent of all votes in the rest of the state, where Bush got about 58 percent. And my informed guess is that upstate Obama will over-perform the Kerry results (just as he over-performed in the upstate caucuses last January).

Nevada is one of the swing states that I have considered to be closest - like Ohio and Florida - and most likely for a long night of counting before it can be called. These early voting tallies are causing me to reassess that, and suggest a final statewide result in Nevada closer to Obama 55 percent, McCain 45. (I'll do a more exhaustive math prior to Election Day, but that's the thumbnail version of what Nevada looks like to The Field right now.)

I can't wait to see and compare today's early voting numbers in Florida and Colorado to those four years ago. It won't shock me at all if they're similar to the voting storm that is inundating North Carolina and Nevada.

Also: Wisconsin Field Hands are organizing to leaflet the long lines into Thursday's noontime Obama appearance to invite people to our talk on Thursday night: The Organizing of the President: What's Next for the Obama Movement After the Election? 

Contact Field Hand Kurt Squire to join in that organizing. And if you have a blog or an email list with Wisconsin readers, please plug the event.

(Update: The Obama campaign - likely figuring that Wisconsin is his anyway, and that the candidate would spend his time better in other states - has just cancelled the Thursday Madison event. That means Obama's upcoming schedule has him 100 percent in "red" states won by Bush in '04. The show goes on, of course, with our own event later that day.)

And I'll be meeting with Chicago Field Hands on Friday evening in the Windy City. They're busy organizing the venue for what will be both social event and organizing session. If you're in the area, do join the conversation.

Update II: We need just $108 dollars to go to meet our Florida reporting goal. Who wants to be the one to put us over the top?

Update III: Thanks everybody who donated. We've now met our goal and will be reporting from Florida starting next weekend.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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