Vote Early & Vote Often (Just Kidding)
What can we make of this snapshot? Not too much and not enough.
The estimable 538 blog notes that these numbers are "soft," although they clearly buck the trend in the last two presidential elections where early voters leaned Republican and tended to be older and more male than the voting population as a whole.
This indicates a couple of things to me:
* We already are seeing the fruits of Obama's massive voter registration and organizing edge.Some 34 states and the District of Columbia allow early voting, while 28 states allow so-called "no excuse" absentee balloting.
* Minority and youth turnout may reach record levels, which again accrues to Obama.
So much for the not too much. What about the not enough?
I had a pretty good case of the ass over early and no-excuse absentee ballot voting back in the primary season because:
* I get a rush -- as in physical and emotional -- when voting and filling out a mail-in ballot while sitting at a kitchen table or behind the wheel in a McDonald's drive-through lane cheapens our most important civic duty.But I've changed my mind in part because the dynamic of this race is not going to change appreciably, because minorities in some areas have every right to be concerned about being turned away on Election Day, voting machine problems do occur, and lines may be hellishly long if the predicted record turnouts materialize.
* Early voters in the California primary, to cite the biggest example, may have voted differently if they hadn't had that option and instead of mailing in their ballots three or four weeks out had been exposed to the debates and speechifying in the days before Super Tuesday.
So if you can vote early, do it!