Romney team sees Ohio numbers moving their way
October 31, 2012 | 12:40 am
There’s been a never-ending stream of polls in this presidential race, but a new survey from Gallup could mark a key moment in the campaign. Mitt Romney, Gallup reported Monday, is leading Barack Obama among Americans who have already voted. Fifteen percent of those surveyed have voted, Gallup said, and among them, Romney leads the president by 52 percent to 46 percent.
The news was particularly bad for the president because at this time in 2008, Obama led John McCain by an even bigger margin. And it was made even worse because early-voting totals are lagging among some of the groups most important to Obama’s re-election. The most reluctant early voters, it turns out, are in the crucial (for Obama) 18-to-29 age group; just seven percent of them have already voted. The Obama campaign has been making a huge effort to get those voters to the polls early, because campaign officials worry that younger voters can’t be fully relied on to show up at the polls on Election Day. Obama needs all the early voters he can get because in some key swing states, Romney is likely to win among those voters who actually cast ballots on November 6.
Gallup’s numbers are for the nation as a whole. But Romney campaign officials believe the same trends are present in Ohio, the most important swing state in the election.
“The Gallup numbers nationally confirm what we think is happening here in Ohio,” says one Romney official. “It’s two things. One, their margin of victory in early voting is greatly diminished — drastically diminished. And two, they are having a very difficult time generating enthusiasm among young people.”
Asked for evidence to support those claims, the official cited a Romney tally showing absentee and early voting is ten percent higher in counties McCain won in 2008 than in counties Obama won. He also pointed to sluggish early voting in the Toledo area, which Obama won in ’08, and particularly energetic early voting in the Cincinnati area, which McCain won. In addition, the official argues that Republicans are “outperforming our share of voter registration in absentee requests and early votes” and that the GOP has “closed the gap on Democrats’ historical absentee and early vote advantage for 20 of the past 21 days.”
As far as younger voters are concerned, Team Romney is operating mostly on anecdotal evidence. First, they believe that Obama’s message this time, a mostly anti-Romney message, simply cannot be as inspiring to younger voters as his 2008 theme of there-is-no-red-America-no-blue-America-just-the-United-States-of-America. “It’s the opposite of hope and everything he ran on in ’08,” says the official.
The Romney case, at least the case it is willing to make public, is somewhat impressionistic. But the Gallup numbers are real, and if trends in early voting nationally are also happening in Ohio, then Romney has reason for optimism. “There’s a lot of evidence that we are erasing the deficit from the summer,” says the official. “The track is unmistakable.”