October 24, 2008
Early voting Day Four: Same as it ever was

Here are your Early Voting numbers for Harris County through Day Four. The totals have crept up a bit each day, which differs from 2004 where the highs were on Tuesday and Thursday, and the lows were Monday and Wednesday. Friday beat all of them by a little last time, so let's see if the trend this year continues.

Saturday should be the strongest day of the first week, as it is the first day to have EV centers open from 7 to 7. If 2008 continues to perform at roughly double the level of 2004, expect there to be about 300,000 ballots cast in person after poll close on Sunday.

Note as well that voting by mail is up from 2004 - the four day total then was 11,519, and now it's 37,381. More mail ballots had been returned by Day One this year (29,301) than in all of 2004 (24,767). Over 33,000 mail ballots have not yet been returned; according to Hector de Leon of the County Clerk's office, with whom I inquired about this earlier today, about 86% of mail ballots wind up being returned in time and thus counted. That should mean a mail ballot total of around 60,000.

Here are the Top Fifteen totals from the Secretary of State. Travis County has the strongest showing so far, with 17.65% of all registered voters there having cast their ballots already. Following Travis are Fort Bend (16.40%), Williamson (15.34%), Galveston (14.96%), and Bexar (14.71%). Yes, Galveston is among the top performers so far. Apparently, hurricanes and dislocations aren't enough to keep people away.

Harvey Kronberg, who noted Galveston's strong showing so far, got a response from GOP pollster Mike Baselice about the earlier report that folks with Democratic voting histories were outvoting those with GOP histories by a 2.4 to 2.6 to one margin.

Baselice said it's more instructive to compare the ratio of voters with a Democratic primary history to voters with a GOP primary history. Of the registered voters in Harris County, 446,445 have a Democratic primary history, he said, while 243,046 have a GOP primary history. That's a 1.84-to-1 ratio.

Looking at the first couple of days of early voting, 49,159 voters with a Democratic primary history have cast ballots as compared to 32,456 voters with a GOP primary history. The ratio there is 1.51-to-1.

Baselice said those numbers tell him that either Democrats are underperforming relative to their strength in the voter files or many of them are waiting until Election Day to vote. He noted that Republicans usually carry a 3- or 4-point advantage from early voting to Election Day.

I'll accept Baselice's word about the numbers, since this is something that can easily be verified or rebutted by someone on our side if he's BSing. Two things to note, however: One, this still puts the Dems in a strong position to have big advantages going into Election Day, which is not the historical norm. And two, note the comparison Baselice didn't make, which was to the ratio of people with D versus R primary history in the first few days of early voting from 2004. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that ratio is much more favorable to the Ds this time.

Now again, nobody really knows how much of this early showing is a shift in behavior from voting on E-Day to voting early, and how much of it portends an increase in turnout. Given the national trends, I think some increase in turnout is to be expected. It's just a matter of how much.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 24, 2008 to Election 2008
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