Poll: Obama And Romney Roughly Even In Early Voting

According to a new Gallup poll, people who are voting early are divided roughly equally between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney:

Fifteen percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Neither candidate has an edge among early voters nationally, the Gallup survey found. One-third of Barack Obama backers plan to vote early, as do 34 percent of Romney supporters. So far, 15 percent of Obama voters have shown up at the polls, compared to 17 percent of Romney voters.

Forty-four percent of elderly voters and 43 percent of voters with post-graduate degrees plan to vote early. Those numbers decline steadily for younger and less educated voters.

The differences are more stark by region. A majority of Western voters — 55 percent — plan to vote early, joined by 40 percent in the South, and 23 percent in the Midwest. But in the East, a mere 9 percent are going to vote early.

There are likely differences on a state by state basis, though, and  if you look at the votes actually coming in you can see them:

In two of the most competitive states in the U.S. presidential race — Iowa and Nevada — Democrats are building a significant advantage in early voting.

Who has the edge is more muddled in the bigger swing states of Ohio and Florida, while Republicans have a narrow lead in Colorado. Early, in-person voting started in Florida over the weekend, and dozens of Democrats in Tallahassee marched five blocks from a church to an early-voting site yesterday, chanting “Vote early.”

Almost 15 million people have already cast ballots nationwide, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Both parties are spinning their versions of what the turnout means as they seek to project momentum in a contest where more than a third of the nation’s vote probably will be cast before Election Day, Nov. 6.

“The data are confirming what we are seeing in the polling, which is that these state races are going to be narrower than in 2008,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason who studies early voting.

In Iowa, more than 470,000 people had cast ballots through Oct. 27, according to the Iowa secretary of state’s office. If as many people vote this year as did in 2008, that would represent 30 percent of the total vote. Registered Democrats have cast 44.6 percent of the ballots so far, compared with 32 percent by Republicans and 23.3 percent by independents.

Four years ago, Obama won Iowa largely because he overwhelmingly beat Senator McCain in the early voting there. It appears as though that may be happening there again, as well as in Nevada. That may end up being just enough to eke out a victory for the President in what is looking like a photo finish election.

Update: As has been noted in the comments below, the Gallup poll also shows Romney ahead among those who have already voted:

Romney currently leads Obama 52% to 45% among voters who say they have already cast their ballots. However, that is comparable to Romney’s 51% to 46% lead among all likely voters in Gallup’s Oct. 22-28 tracking polling. At the same time, the race is tied at 49% 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% to 45% among the much larger group of voters who plan to vote on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Leaving aside the questions that have been raised about the fact that Gallup’s Daily Tracking Poll seems out of step with everyone else, these numbers would seem to be good news for Romney, assuming there accurate. Even if the margin isn’t that large, though, it’s clear that Romney is far more competitive in early voting that John McCain was four years ago.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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.


  1. Michael says:
  2. Smooth Jazz says:

    “According to a new Gallup poll, people who are voting early are divided roughly equally between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney:”

    LMAO. Figures a left wing blog would buy the left wing Politico spin. Did you even read the article by Gallup or did you just skim the pedestrian Politico write-up?? Sure, equal numbers of Romney & Obama voters plan to vote early but you conveniently failed to mention that ROMNEY LEADS OBAMA BY 52% – 46% AMONG THE 3000+ VOTERS SAMPLED. I guess you didn’t think this was relevant enough to mention, especially given the meme than Obama has been leading with early voters.

    Perhaps most significant, while Romney leads Obama among early voters as of today 52% – 46%, exactly 4 years ago Obama led McCain among early voters 55% – 40%, a 21% turnaround advantage to the GOP versus 2008. I guess you figured that was news that was NOT fit to print.


    Finally, “everything is relative” insofar as early voting as with everything in life. You claim Democrats are building signifcant advantages in early voting in IA & NV, but that statement by itself means nothing and is just left wing spin. The question is HOW ARE THESE NUMBERS RELATIVE TO 2008, AND ARE DEMS CANNIBALIZING THEIR HIGH PROPENSITY VOTERS WHO OTHERWISE WOULD VOTE ON ELECTION DAY ANYWAY. For example, there are reports in IA, OH and elsewhere, that Reps absentee ballots, voter regisgration & early voting is WAY ahead the pace of Dems compared to 2008. Apparently, this is partially corroborated by the early voting data Gallup released today.

  3. John Burgess says:

    I voted early yesterday. The public library where I voted had a line that was about an hour long. The four-page ballot, with lots of local elections, FL constitutional amendments, and county charter changes took a lot of time to read, unless voters had paid attention to their sample ballots mailed out several weeks ago.

    I noted with amusement the elderly couple in front of me in line. Both were wearing Balliol College, Oxford hoodies. He had a copy of the Democratic voters guide; she had the Republican one.

  4. Franklin says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Figures a left wing blog …

    Aren’t we tired of this tripe? Why even post?

  5. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Typical OTB b.s.

    Reality – http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/10/29/Gallup-Shock-Romney-Up-7-with-early-voters

    I think OTB and other left leaning blogs bought into the Liberal spin perpetrated by left wing hacks masquering as impartial observers such as Nate Silver from the NY Times that Obama had this in the bag months ago. The problem for OTB is that based on Dem versus Rep 10% bogus polls commisioned by NY Times, MSNBC, CBS, PPP, etc, they claimed Obama had this in the bag a long time ago, and the rest of us were just going through the motion.

    They openly mocked the Unskewed.com blogger and others who were just trying to make a simple point: Given that some many Reps were fired up to vote 2 years ago, and that Obama couldn’t possibly rekindle the enthusiasm from being a fresh face 4 years ago, there was no way NY Times, CBS, ABC polls showing Obama with big leads in states like OH, FLA, VA, etc with Dems samples versus of Repubs of 10%+ plus could be true. Especially since Romney has been wiping the floor with Obama among independents in all polls. And YES, I wouldn’t put it past pollsters sponsored by the NY Times, PPP, CBS, MSNBC et al to juice polls to please their benefactors.

    Now OTB is stuck, reduced to wishing and hoping and playing down stories where Romney is crushing Obama among early voters, and relying on partial and incomplete early voting data (relative to 2008) from OH & IA to keep their canard alive that Obama has this in the bag. Their comment threads are dominated by Liberals so I think they have to feed them one sided stories. To ignore the true story behind this Gallup release to claim “Poll: Obama And Romney Roughly Even In Early Voting” is some serious wishful thinking.

  6. Geek, Esq. says:

    A lot of red states have early in person voting–IN, GA, AR etc. Red states have more early voting options than blue states, which is somewhat counterintuitive. Also, absentee voting has traditionally been dominated by Republicans, whereas early in-person voting has favored Democrats when the Democrats make it a priority–see NC and FL.

  7. Jr says:

    Republicans are doing well in states like Texas and Utah……which means nothing.

    Early voting only matters in the swing states, which Democrats have the edge in the majority of states(CO is the only state the Republicans are winning early voting.)

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    If Romney is up 52-45 among those who already have voted then not only is this election over it won’t even really be all that close.

    Even the loopiest, most slanted media polls clearly and uniformly indicate that Romney easily will win the total vote on Election Day itself. Ergo this finding by Gallup if accurate would extrapolate to a big overall lead for Romney nationally. Obviously Romney could not possibly be doing worse in Florida, Ohio and Virginia than what he’s doing nationally. Shit, even McCain’s buried corpse outperformed in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. Meaning that in order to win the election Obama would have to win each and every one of those “firewall” states: CO, WI, NH, IA, NV, MN. Given the demographic and political characteristics of those states and the overall trend of this election cycle the chances of that happening are between zero and none.

    IOW, either Gallup is wrong about those who actually have voted or Romney will be the next president.

  9. Ed in NJ says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I’ll go with wrong.

    I fully expect Gallup to swing wildly towards Obama this week, because they know their polling is an outlier. interestingly enough, they are using the storm to suspend polling for a few days, giving them a convenient excuse to publish a big swing when they come back. They can use the President’s obvious leadership in the crisis vs. Romney’s crass opportunism as the reason for the swing.

  10. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    there was no way NY Times, CBS, ABC polls showing Obama with big leads in states like OH, FLA, VA, etc with Dems samples versus of Repubs of 10%+ plus could be true. Especially since Romney has been wiping the floor with Obama among independents in all polls.

    Given the number of times that canard has been discussed on this very block you’re either unable to participate in a reasonable discussion due to partisan blinders or dumber than a box of bricks. Just go away and annoy someone else until the election is over.