Tags: gop | romney | lead | early | voting

Gallup: Romney, GOP Lead in Early Voting

By Paul Scicchitano   |   Monday, 29 Oct 2012 08:49 PM

With “Frankenstorm” threatening the final days of the presidential race, Gallup released a new poll today showing that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is leading President Barack Obama in early voting, something that had been a key part of the Obama campaign strategy.

Meanwhile, Gallup also reported that more Republicans than Democrats have already voted by a margin of 19 to 15 percent. “When those who intend to vote before Election Day are factored in, the gap is similar: 37 percent of Republicans vs. 33 percent of Democrats,” according to the polling organization.

“Romney currently leads Obama 52 percent to 45 percent among voters who say they have already cast their ballots,” Gallup reported. “However, that is comparable to Romney's 51 percent to 46 percent lead among all likely voters in Gallup's Oct. 22-28 tracking polling."

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The race is tied at 49 percent among those who have not yet voted but still intend to vote early, suggesting these voters could cause the race to tighten. "However, Romney leads 51 percent to 45 percent among the much larger group of voters who plan to vote on Election Day, Nov. 6,” said Gallup.

Moreover, Gallup found that 15 percent of registered voters nationwide have already cast their ballots in this year's election, which is up sharply from only 5 percent a week earlier.

“The overall percentage either having already voted or planning to vote before Election Day has also increased — to 33 percent, from roughly 25 percent in each of the prior three weeks,” Gallup noted.

The Obama campaign, which benefited from early voting in 2008, has focused heavily on urging supporters to vote early in this election as well. Earlier polling data compiled by Reuters/Ipsos in recent weeks showed Obama with a 54 to 39 percent lead among voters who already have cast ballots.

“Early voting could play a pivotal role if it results in higher turnout among a particular candidate's supporters than would otherwise be the case if everyone waited for Election Day,” according to Gallup. “As a result, the presidential campaigns are urging their supporters in swing states, in particular, to lock in their vote now, lest anything interfere with their ability to turn out on Nov. 6. There are reports that Hurricane Sandy has disrupted early voting in parts of the East; but given the relatively low rate of early voting in that region, this may not have a major impact on early voting overall.”

Gallup also noted that it is not clear whether a focus on early voting will ultimately pay off for either campaign.

“At present, early voting appears to be a convenience that older voters are using disproportionately; they may welcome the opportunity to vote by mail rather than in person on Election Day,” said Gallup. “It is also relatively common in the West and among postgraduates, groups that may have better access to information about how to navigate the early voting process. Some states not only encourage early voting, but mandate it, thus accounting for regional differences. However, despite the hype, it doesn't appear that early voting will have a major impact on the U.S. popular vote, or be much more prevalent than it was four years ago.”

Urgent Poll: One Week Until Election Day — Obama or Romney? Vote Here!

Among the findings by Gallup:

• Early voting is most prevalent in the West, followed by the South and the Midwest, but is relatively light in the East.

• Washington and Oregon not only encourage early voting, but are mandating it.

• One in four voters in the West say they have already voted.

• Thirty percent of voters in the West plan to vote before Election Day.

• The combined 55 percent of early voters in the West compares to 40 percent in the South, 23 percent in the Midwest and 9 percent in the East.

• Early voting is strongly related to age. Some 26 percent of seniors are most likely to have already voted compared to 7 percent of voters aged 18 to 29.

• Postgraduates are more likely to vote than voters with an undergraduate degree or less.

• Adults with no college education are least likely to vote early.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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