Gallup has been polling 12 “swing” states over the course of the campaign. Their most recent poll shows President Obama ahead of Romney by 2 percentage points among these swing state voters (Source). As I stressed during the Republican primary, early voting can give us an indication of who will win in these states, and that’s just as true for the general election.
Swing State Early Voting
Colorado - No excuse absentee ballots will be mailed 22 days before Nov 6th, which means people can begin voting presumably as early as the middle of October (Source). Early voting begins on October 22nd (Source).
Iowa - The first day to vote in-person by absentee ballot is next week: Sept 27th (Source). As of Sept 18th, there were 14,909 Republicans who requested absentee ballots vs 97,001 Democrats and 30,083 no party (Source).
Nevada - Has no excuse absentee voting and will mail absentee ballots beginning Oct 17th, and in-person early voting begins Oct 20th through Nov 2nd (Source).
- 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 7 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about less than 1 point.
Ohio - No excuse absentee ballots are sent out Oct 2nd (Source). Early voting also begins on Oct 2nd and runs through Nov 2nd (Source). Franklin County has seen a large number of requests for absentee ballots: 8,893 Democrats, 12,124 Republican and 28,258 unaffiliated (Source).
Virginia - There is no early voting, but has excused required absentee voting. The absentee ballots are sent out 45 days prior to the election, which means some people will start voting this month (Source).
Why is all of this important? In 2008, “More than half of the ballots in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Florida were cast before Election Day, with Colorado leading the pack with 78 percent of total votes cast early” (Source). So, keep an eye on these states, and pay particular attention the responses of people who have already voted as we get closer to Election Day [Public Policy Polling has pretty good crosstabs on this].
One important note: military and overseas voters must receive their ballots 45 days prior to the election.
You can see the early voting policies for each state here.
If you know any of the missing info or see anything that is incorrect, let me know, and I will correct this post.