Early Voter Numbers Confirming Enthusiasm Gap

The numbers coming out of the first few weeks of early voting confirms the enthusiasm gap that pollsters have been talking about for months.

Nate Silver takes a look at the numbers coming out of the first few weeks of early voting and finds confirmation of the enthusiasm gap that pollsters have been talking about for months:

If we compare the early voting statistics to the registration figures in each state, we see that Republicans are outperforming their registration figures by an average of about 9 points, or a median of 6 points. The median figure is arguably the more reliable figure in this case, since it will be less sensitive to outliers — as there might be, for instance, in Pennsylvania, where early voting figures show a very substantial edge for Republicans in a state where party registration favors the Democrats. Still, either figure is pretty good for Republicans.

The other comparison, between early voting turnout by voter registration, and 2008 voter identification, is less apples-to-apples. Still, it may be useful, since public polling firms almost always estimate the composition of the electorate by voter identification rather than registration, even in states where registration data is available.

These figures are slightly weaker for Republicans, but still pretty good. They are outperforming party identification figures by a median of 4 points, an average of 5 or 6 points, and a weighted average of around 7 points.

So, the various estimates of early voting data each show an edge for Republicans: their voters have been slightly more inclined that Democrats in most states thus far. Under the most favorable set of assumptions for them, their advantage is around 9 points; by the least favorable set of assumptions, it is more like a 4-point edge.

As Silver points out, there are state to state differences that stand out. Most notably, the first week of early voting in Nevada seemed to indicate that Democrats are as enthusiastic as Republicans in that particular state, a fact which may bode well for Harry Reid. In the nation as a whole, though, it looks like the Republican wave is already starting.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.