Obama seems to have early vote lead in key states
Obama won Florida's early vote by 10 percentage points in 2008, getting 400,000 more early votes than McCain, enough to offset McCain's advantage on Election Day.
In Florida, Republicans have historically done better among people who vote by mail, while Democrats have done better among people who vote early in person. For 2012, Florida's Republican-led Legislature reduced the number of in-person early voting days from 14 to eight.
The Obama campaign responded by encouraging more supporters to vote by mail, and Democrats were able to narrow the gap among mail ballots. Democrats quickly took the lead among all early voters, once in-person early voting started. But the margins are slim.
The Obama campaign acknowledges it must do better among Florida's Election Day voters than Obama did on 2008, when McCain won the Election Day vote by 5 percentage points.
About 614,000 people have voted, already exceeding Iowa's total number of early votes in 2008. So far this year, 43 percent of early voters were Democrats and 32 percent were Republicans.
Four years ago, Obama won the early vote in Iowa by a whopping 27 percentage points, 63 percent to 36 percent. McCain, meanwhile, won the Election Day vote by about 1,800 votes — less than a percentage point. Together, they added up to a 10-point victory for Obama.
Romney's campaign argues that Democrats always do better among early voters in Iowa while Republicans do better among Election Day voters, even when President George W. Bush narrowly carried the state in 2004.
Obama's campaign counters that with early voting on the rise, Romney will be left with fewer Election Day voters to make up the difference.
About 628,000 people have voted, and 44 percent were Democrats and 37 percent were Republicans. Four years ago, Obama won Nevada's early vote big, 59 percent to 39 percent. Obama also won Nevada's Election Day vote on his way to a comfortable 13-point win over McCain.
The Romney campaign argues that Obama isn't doing nearly as well among early voters in Nevada as he did in 2008. The Obama campaign argues that it doesn't have to.
About 2.5 million people have voted, and 48 percent of them were Democrats and 32 percent of them were Republicans. Four years ago at this time, Democrats had a slightly larger lead over Republicans, and Obama won the early vote by 11 percentage points.
Obama lost the Election Day Vote by 17 percentage points in 2008. But the early vote was much bigger than the Election Day vote, resulting in Obama's narrow win.
Obama's campaign cites the big lead for Democrats among early voters, while Romney's campaign argues that even a small shift toward the Republicans could flip the state to Romney.
More than 1.6 million people have voted, and 29 percent were Democrats and 23 percent were Republicans. Forty-seven percent were unaffiliated, more than enough voters to swing the state to either candidate.
Ohio may once again be pivotal in the race for the presidency. Unfortunately, Ohio's early voting data is limited. Party affiliation in Ohio is based on the last primary in which a voter participated, so new voters and those who don't vote in primaries are listed as unaffiliated.
In 2008, Obama won Ohio by 5 percentage points.
Associated Press Senior Elections Research Coordinator Cliff Maceda contributed to this report.
Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap
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