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From 2008 to 2012, Colorado’s voter registration rose by 443,943 new voters (or 13.8%) and had the nation’s 2nd highest turnout behind Minnesota. The state also saw a 65 percent increase in mail ballot returns - credited to the electronic ballot delivery system and the extended grace period (8 days after Election Day).

On Election Day, Pres Obama defeated Mitt Romney by about 5 percentage points and won Colorado’s 9 electoral votes (Source).

(h/t: Michael Li)

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Texas Primary: A Look at Turnout

In a prior post, we looked at the early vote numbers in the 15 most populous counties. In the Republican primary, there were 692,866 people who voted in early in the Presidential election, which was 48 percent of the total 1.4 million people (11 percent of registered voters) who voted in the Presidential primary. In the Democratic primary, there were 303,203 people who voted in early in the Presidential election. which was 52 percent of the total 587,146 (4.5 percent of registered voters) who voted in the Presidential election.

How does this compare to prior years? In the 2010 Republican primary, 1.5 million people voted, which represented 11.4 percent of registered voters, and in the 2008 Republican primary, 1.4 million people voted, which represented 10.7 percent of registered voters (Source). Turnout for the 2010 Democratic primary was 680,548 (5.2 percent of registered voters) and 2.9 million (22.54 percent of registered voters) in the 2008 Democratic primary (same source). [Note: voting age population percentages are obviously lower than the registered voter percentages cited].

While turnout has been bemoaned as low and blamed on the lack of competition in the Presidential race, the statewide turnout for the Republican primary has actually been comparable to 2008 and 2010 when there were competitive races for President and Governor respectively. The Democratic primary similarly returned to a norm; the 2008 primary would be the exception due to the excitement over the contest and the belief that Texas would have an impact on the race.

You can see the results for all the races here; many will be decided two months from now, since we’re going to have some run-off elections.

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Texas Primary: Early Voting Totals

Turnout for early voting has been surprisingly high given that the Presidential race is effectively over.

According to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, 343,497 Texans have voted early in the 15 most populous counties (Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, El Paso, Denton, Fort Bend, Hidalgo, Montgomery, Wlliamsom, Nueces, Galveston, and Cameron). Dallas Morning News reporter Christi Hoppe notes that the 239 counties usually produce as many early votes as these 15 most populous counties, which suggests that statewide early vote total could be something around 680,000.

By way of comparison, there were 306,402 early voters in the 15 most populous counties in 2010 (Republican primary), and 1.5 million total voters in the Republican primary election. There were 303,338 early voters in the 15 most populous counties in 2008 (Republican primary), and 1.4 million total voters in the primary election (Source for 2008 & 2010 vote totals).

It remains to be seen if the turnout on Election Day (tomorrow) will be very high since it is the day after a long holiday weekend. Even if turnout is not high, the final total turnout could be near 1 million. Conventional wisdom suggests this is good for the incumbents, who have been tagged with the “establishment” label, because the voters turning out may not be committed ideologues.

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Gallup showing a dead heat in swing states

Gallup has been polling Obama and Romney head to head in 12 potential swing states. Their poll in March showed a big lead for the President, but as Romney has become the presumptive nominee (yes, Paul has picked up some delegates, but not enough yet to prevent Romney from getting the nomination), that lead has narrowed. Among voters who are certain they will vote for one candidate or the other, Obama has a 4 point lead.

A poll from George Washington University for Politico also shows a dead heat in the battleground states that will determine who the next President will be.

As discussed previously, Romney has a small margin for error, and a lot of money will be spent in states like Ohio and Virginia, not to mention some of the states out West.

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Some interesting things to look at this week. In the above chart from the Washington Post, you can see how the Republican results in the Electoral College have declined significantly since 1988, which indicates - according to the Post - that Romney’s margin of error is fairly small, but that could have been determined just by looking at the 2012 electoral map.

Which is where some analysis from Mark Blumenthal comes in. A recent poll of 3 swing states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania (personally I don’t consider this a swing state, since a Republican hasn’t won it since 1988) - by Quinnipiac University shows a tight race in these states. Recent polls also show the President ahead in Virginia. However, as Blumenthal points out, Obama’s numbers in these states are better than they were in both May and June 2008. Obama is also performing well in Arizona, which may end up being icing on the electoral cake if he can flip the state (and presuming he wins).

And the race is just beginning in earnest. The Romney supporting super-PAC - Restore Our Future - has made a $3.7 million ad buy in nine states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire. So, get ready for a slugfest.

A few notes:

  1. Despite what some earlier (dare I say unreliable) polls may have suggested, Republican voters are lining up with Romney.
  2. Do not pay attention to the national polls.
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Book Review: Game Change

Over the weekend, I finished reading John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book Game Change, and it’s been a tough slog, because I put it down multiple times with no intention of picking it back up. When the book was first released, I didn’t read it, on the basis of several reviews, and now, I believe I should have heeded those reviews because I was better off having never read this poor excuse of a 2008 campaign tell-all. The book is essentially about the Democratic primary with the Republican primary little more than an afterthought and the general election an anticlimax to the Democratic nomination fight. The general nature of the book is more in line with a gossip column or tabloid journalism than an actual narrative of the 2008 campaign (and forget anything resembling analysis), and seems designed more to showcase the authors ability to get information from sources.

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In today’s column in the Washington Post, George Will discusses some of the possible Republican candidates for the 2012 nomination. In particular, he mentions Huckabee and Gingrich, whom he cites for their turns into the absurd, i.e., their talk of Pres. Obama’s “Kenyan roots.” Will relates this to a larger problem for Republicans and conservatives: “The nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.” In a country where the primary concern is the economy, very few people care about whether or not the President has shown a birth certificate, how he feels about the Mau-Mau Rebellion (or even what it was), etc.; they care about how they are going to pay their bills. While it may be some red meat for a portion of the base, Republican candidates would do better creating a broad message that addresses the concerns of your average American, e.g., Romney. This leads me to believe that one of the lesser known candidates will receive the Republican nomination, but Will is correct - they will probably be tainted by some of the rhetoric of the primary process.

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Democrats waiting for Texas’ growing Hispanic population to put them back in the statewide winner’s circle are still waiting. This year, Hispanic voters helped Republicans across the state. Democrats lost four Texas House seats held by incumbent Hispanics. Republicans gained five Hispanic members in the House, and Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman of Houston won with more than 60 percent of the statewide vote.