Is Everyone Done Freaking Out Now? (Or, How Obama Turnout is Creaming Romney)


While nearly every conceivable TV liberal pundit was running around with their hair on fire last week, freaked out over polls of 'likely voters,' I said that not only were these 'likely voter' models (which, incidentally, pollsters switch to at the beginning of October, the same time as the first debate...) weighed more heavily towards the GOP than presidential election history would indicate, but also that they fail to take into account the effectiveness of President Obama's legendary ground game in bringing out the not-so-likely to vote. Presidential polls are stuck into an amazing case of cognitive dissonance: they see Obama having an edge among registered voters, Romney erasing that lead among likely voters, and President Obama creaming Mitt Romney among those who have actually voted.

Last week, I pointed to the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll that, even with an admittedly right-skewed sample, running away with 67% of votes already cast. This weekend, Public Policy Polling was out with numbers from Ohio, cementing the President's 51% breakaway in the state among even the "likely voters" found in numerous other polls, and, among those who have already voted,
The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they've already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven't voted yet, but the numbers make it clear that he already has a lot of ground to make up in the final three weeks before the election.
This is worse for Mitt Romney than the NBC poll indicated. Just as the NBC poll, it indicates that about a fifth of voters in Ohio have already voted, but this one shows a stronger preference for Obama. If we go by the numbers from PPP, Barack Obama already has 14.4% of the total vote in Ohio, compared to Romney's  4.6%. That is already a 10-point gap - not among voters who voted but among all voters who are going to vote in Ohio. Even if Romney's lead among those who haven't voted yet holds through election day (which is pretty unlikely), he can make up half of that 10-point gap. It is essentially impossible for Mitt Romney to win the presidency without Ohio.

Ohio isn't the only place where the President is clobbering the liar in early voting. He's doing that nationwide. While the early voter numbers nationwide are smaller than in Ohio - according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 7% report having voted early (though it would be interesting to see how this 7% spreads among swing states) - the President is dominating Romney 2-1, 59% to 31%.
"We've made early investments in battleground states - where we've been registering folks and keeping an open conversation going with undecided voters for months - to build a historic grass-roots organization that will pay off when the votes are counted," spokesman Adam Fetcher said.
As I pointed out before, when campaigns have a big advantage in early votes with a fine tuned turnout machine, they have the opportunity to reach more voters who are either undecided but are sure to vote or are decided for the campaign but aren't sure to vote. When you no longer have to spend time making sure that your supporters Jimmy and Joan vote because they've already voted, you can concentrate on their neighbor. Banking the votes early opens up new universes of voters to pursue and get to the polls on or before election day.

Oh, and there's a reason why the early vote is going big for Obama, and it isn't simply that Democrats like to vote early. It is also this: According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released today, the Obama campaign is having far greater success in actually finding their voters and persuading voters to vote for the president when someone is contacted by the campaign:


Those numbers combine the people reached who are already supporters (prime GOTV targets) and those who were persuaded through those contacts to support a candidate. That should explain a bit just how it is that Romney is getting beaten to a pulp when it comes to early voters.

Along with the Obama campaign's stellar grassroots turnout machine, there is another thing helping the president - the success of his policies. The ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 52% of voters give President Obama some credit for the improving job situation, as underlined by the September drop in unemployment rate to 7.8%. And the president leading in nearly every issue, opening up a 13-point gap on Medicare. This reminds me of something I noticed while the Lefty pundits were having a meltdown after the first presidential debate: the president got Mitt Romney to (and then the Vice President took Ryan to the woodsheds for it) admit that yes, he wants to voucherize Medicare.

Pollsters and the media will continue to find ways to keep the horserace going, and they will always tell us that this is a turnout election, as if that is some sort of an exception from the general rule. All elections are turnout elections. Democrats got their behinds handed to them in 2010 because these same "liberal" blogs and pundits that go on freakout modes on a regular basis convinced enough Democratic-leaning voters to stay home to protest Obama's lack of ideological purity.

This, like every other election, is a turnout election. And looking at our turnout numbers, the Obama campaign is doing a bang-up job. Let's keep that up!


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