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More early voting

Early voting continues to go gangbusters in Harris County – here’s my updated spreadsheet for your perusal. The numbers are certainly impressive, but to keep things in perspective, it’s an increase of about 20% over 2008, whereas 2008 was more than double the turnout of 2004 through Day Four.

Year Day 4 total =================== 2004 95,849 2008 208,010 2012 252,752

Note also that Day 4 today was slightly down from Days 2 and 3. What all that says to me is that this is consistent with a hypothesis of behavior shifting, and not some massive turnout increase. Remember, for all the hype about the explosive growth in early voting in 2008, final turnout was 1,188,793 in 2008, and 1,088,731 in 2004, not that much of an increase. Stan Stanart predicted a final turnout for this year of 1.22 million based on the first day of early voting, and that would barely be a change in turnout percent from 2008. Until and unless we see evidence that there’s something different about who is showing up to vote – a big jump in new voters, for example – I’d remain calm about What It All Means. To put it another way, here’s a quote Ed Kilgore pulled from this story about how early voting is going around the country, from the perspective of an Obama campaign official:

Said one senior official: “[T]he most important thing about early vote is one thing and one thing only: are you getting your sporadic voters to vote? Because if it’s just chasing people who are going to vote anyway than it’s just… a zero sum game.”

This is where the campaign pros make their money. See what Greg has to say about translating the daily roster of who voted into guesses about who’s winning and by how much. I’ll do another check on turnout Monday, after we’ve had seven full days of early voting, and we’ll see where we stand then.

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One Comment

  1. David says:

    Rather than just raw numbers, it would be interesting to see the increase as a percentage of registered voters. Is the increase proportional?