It’s amazing to see the Ohio media bite on the GOP narrative on early vote when prominent national political publications are uniform (from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, and even National Review) all have said that Democrats have a sizeable advantage in the early voting in Ohio.
Take this post written by Howard Wilkinson of the Cincinnati Enquirer “GOP outpacing Dems in absentee ballots in Hamilton County.” Wilkinson fixates on the fact that Republicans have a higher return rate on absentee ballots than Democrats do. Then he states:
As of the end of business Monday, 24,055 Democrats had been mailed ballots and 16341 – 68 percent – had been returned. Republican voters have been mailed 24,728 ballots and 19,174 – 77.5% – have gotten back to the board of elections. Among independent voters, 22,815 have been mailed out and 12,397 (54 percent) have been returned.
Democrats continue to lead by a wide margin among the walk-in early voters at the board of elections – 61 percent of those who have voted at the board offices downtown have been Democrats. Through Monday, 2,114 Democrats had cast early, in-person ballots, compared to 637 Republicans and 726 independents.
So, that’s 26,169 absentee ballot requests/in-person early votes for the Democrats and 25,365 for the Republicans. Roughly a week ago, those same numbers were:
In other words, the Democrats went from nearly a 3,000 disadvantage in early voting in Hamilton County to a nearly 1,000 advantage in a week! This, to me, would seem to be more newsworthy than rates of returns when all that matters is that they are returned by next Tuesday.
Or take today’s story by Aaron Marshall in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio Democrats say their voter-turnout machine is swamping Republicans across the state in early voting, but absentee ballot returns from Ohio’s largest three counties paint a different picture.
In Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties — home to 30 percent of Ohio’s voting populace — Republicans account for a larger share of the early voters than they did in 2008.
Marshall’s entire premise is that because Republicans are doing better than they did in 2008, then that must mean they aren’t being swamped in the early vote. But doing better isn’t the same thing being overwhelmed. And right now all the data is that Democrats are leading in every major populated county in the State.
In the state’s largest three counties combined, Republicans have cast about 40 percent of the partisan absentee ballots compared to only 26 percent in 2008.
Okay… but can we remember that 2008 was a poor turnout year for the Ohio GOP over conservatives hatred of McCain and the moderates’ disdain of Palin?
But consider this statistic in Marshall’s story:
Still, the closest thing to good news from a Democratic perspective in the state’s three largest urban counties is that the county corruption scandal in Cuyahoga County doesn’t seem to be causing too much of a Democratic decline. County Democrats have cast about 70 percent of the partisan absentee ballots this year compared to 80 percent in 2008.
A ten-point drop and that’s not because of low Democratic turnout but incredibly high GOP turnout. The Cuyahoga Republican Party has done a better job getting its registered voters to vote early this year in 2008. However, in so doing, it’s burned up half of its voter registration population (which actually increased from 2008) in so doing. The Democrats have plenty left in the tank. So, in other words, all that’s happened is that the Cuyahoga that the GOP has burnt up most of its gas in the early vote, only reduced the Democratic advantage 10% from 2008 as a result, but the Democrats have a massive amount of votes it can still mine between now and election day.
All the Cuyahoga County GOP may have done is nothing more than shift when their Republicans vote, and that’s all. Cuyahoga could still potentially see the same kind of turnout in 2008, which would be remarkable and damn good news for the Democrats this cycle. Enter President Obama’s Cleveland appearance right before the election.
Here’s another key nugget that ODP Communication Director Seth Brigman dropped in the story:
Bringman said Democrats are confident in part because of independents who lean Democratic who are making a strong showing in the early voting mix, particularly in Franklin County.
"Our knowledge of how we are doing in early voting goes beyond just party registration," said Bringman.
We’re outperforming from 2006 in Franklin, Cuyahoga, Summit, and Mahoning County. The one bright spot for the GOP, Hamilton County, now has an early blue hue.
That is the actual story of this election. Anything beyond that is angels dancing on the head of a pin stuff nonsense.