Update 10/30 -- Democrats continue to dominate in early voting.
Updated 10/29 -- h/t to Brownsox for the initial round-up. We've supplemented it with more stories.
Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, expressed optimism Friday about early voting numbers:
Plouffe talked about some of the early voting numbers that he said showed a strong position for the Democratic nominee. In Florida, he said, Democrats had a 200,000 vote edge over Republicans in terms of early voting. In Nevada, "43 percent of the Democrats voting early are either new or sporadic Democrats." In North Carolina, "19 percent of Democrats who voted early are Democrats who never voted in a general election before." And in Iowa, he added, "there was only one day where more Republican votes were cast" than Democratic.
"We are out of the land of theory in these states," said Plouffe. "You are starting to see how the election is going to unfold based off of the early voting."
How well were things proceeding? One of Plouffe's chief concerns was that the campaign had exhausted a fair portion of its get out the vote apparatus and might have to expand beyond traditional measures.
"Heading into an election day where a good portion of the GOTV universe has already voted," he said. "A lot of people are going to have to drive and knock, rather than walk around and knock on doors."
Some analysis of early trends from Nate Silver:
According to Michael McDonald's terrific website, there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).
Hmm ... can anybody think of something that those three states have in common?
The African-American population share is the key determinant of early voting behavior. In states where there are a lot of black voters, early voting is way, way up. In states with fewer African-Americans, the rates of early voting are relatively normal.
This works at the county level too. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland), which about 30 percent black, twice as many people have already voted early as in all of 2004. In Franklin County (Columbus), which is about 18 percent black and also has tons of students, early voting is already about 3x its 2004 total.
Early voting is currently at 60% of the total 2004 vote.
Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in early voting, albeit by a slim margin -- 38.6% of all early voters, to 36.7% Republicans. About 1,291,571 people have voted.
In the 15 largest counties, 3,117,005 people have voted early.
"Across Dallas County and into the outer suburbs, thousands of people continue to stream into polling places, dwarfing early-voting records and raising questions about what the preliminary tallies mean for candidates and political parties." Early voting patterns signal that Nov. 4 could be a strong day for area Democrats.
In this critical swing state, early voters already make up 44% of total 2004 numbers (in 2004, early voters constituted 36% of total votes). 3,360,088 people have voted.
Dems outnumber Republicans so far, 45.6 percent to 38 percent.
Time Magazine reports that early voting could cost McCain Florida.
[S]o far this year, early-voting Democrats are outnumbering Republicans at those sites by more than 20 percentage points, and a WSVN-Suffolk University poll has Barack Obama leading John McCain by a 60% to 40% margin among early voters. What's more, the number of early voters could approach 30% of all of Florida's 11.2 million registered voters by the actual November 4 election day. That massive turnout prompted Florida's GOP Governor, Charlie Crist, to flash his bipartisan bona fides this week and lengthen the weekday early voting by four hours (while letting each county decide whether to lengthen the normal hours this weekend).
[E}arly voting "disproportionately rewards campaigns that are better organized" because it often requires more refined voter mobilization efforts than regular voting does; the other is that it "lowers barriers to participation," especially for hourly workers who can least afford to take time off from work on election Tuesday.
Early voting is already 20 points higher than 2004 numbers, and is equivalent to 53.3% of all votes cast in Georgia in 2004. 1,767,139 people have voted.
Of early voters, 35% are African-American, compared to 25% of the total voting population in 2004.
Also, nearly 56% of early voters are women, another excellent sign for Democrats.
Georgia voter Kenneth Brown stood in line for hours on Tuesday in Clayton County to vote for Democratic candidate Obama. "I'd be willing to stand in line again -- and vote again -- if I could," said Brown.
"Among those in Ohio who told WHIO-TV/SurveyUSA that they have already voted, Barack Obama leads by 13 points. When the two populations are combined, the data is as here reported: Obama 49%, McCain 45%. Compared to an identical WHIO-TV/SurveyUSA poll released two weeks ago, Obama is down 1 point; McCain is flat."
Democrats are particularly invested in early voting here because of the problems that plagued the state in 2004:
"This is not over until 7:30 on the night of Nov. 4 when the polls close," said Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, an early and avid supporter of Obama. "I know the other side will do all they can -- say anything -- to discourage the vote and to sway voters and persuade them. I hope it doesn't get any nastier from the other side. And we have to turn out our vote. Voter turnout is the key."
That explains why the downtown Veterans Memorial building on the banks of the Scioto River has the frenzied look lately of O'Hare Airport on the day before Thanksgiving. Shortly after 2 on Thursday afternoon, more than 700 residents of Franklin County (Columbus and its close-in suburbs) were patiently standing in the early-voting line that snaked up a long staircase and across the second floor before finally reaching the nirvana of the polling stations. Jerry Garner, an African-American engineer who supports Obama, clocked his wait at precisely two hours and 12 minutes. A deputy sheriff monitoring the good-natured queuing joked, "I feel like I'm at Disney World."
After conducting an informal entrance poll for almost an hour, I encountered exactly one John McCain voter.
60,000 votes have already been cast in the Tenth Congressional District. Of those, 58% were cast by registered Democrats, compared to 25% for Republicans. Obama should win the district and state in a landslide, but these numbers bode especially well for IL-10 Democratic candidate Dan Seals.
Registered Democrats have a 20-point advantage in early voting over Republicans in Iowa. About 370,000 people have already voted -- 49 percent are registered Democrats and 29 percent are Republicans. 400,829 people have already voted.
Early voting is more than double 2004 levels. Of early voters, registered Democrats have a huge edge, 58.5% to 28.4%.
36.3% of early voters are African-American.
Democrats lead 54.4% to 29.1% among early voters. Early voters constituted 59.4% of all voters in 2004; this year, early voting to this point is equivalent to 44% of all 2004 numbers.
Election officials in Nevada only report party registration for Clark and Washoe counties, where the major cities of Las Vegas and Reno are located. Early voting turnout in Clark County has vastly exceeded the pace of the 2004 presidential election.
In both counties, early voters have been trending heavily Democratic. In Clark County, 52.5% of 347,491 early voters were Democratic; 30.4% were Republican. In Washoe Country, 47.8% of 90,638 early voters were Democratic to 35.0% Republicans.
The two counties account for about 90 percent of the state's population, and Democratic turnout is currently about 75 percent higher than turnout for Republicans, according to The Early Voting Center.
A whopping 2,078,050 people have voted early in North Carolina, almost twice as many as did in 2004. The proportion of black voters among all early voters has leveled off - they constitute 26.6% of all voters now -- but still exceeds black registration in the state. Early voting has far outstripped 2004 levels, and Democrats are turning out disproportionately.
According to a poll on Wednesday, 59 percent of early voters supported Obama, compared with 33 percent for McCain. Early voting has been extended in the state to deal with the record turnout.
Votes keep arriving at the region's county clerks offices as early voters and absentee voters make their choices for president, governors and county officials. In Mercer County, 2,760 early votes had been cast as of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Marie Hill of the Voter Registration Office. One hundred and seventy-seven voters came to the Mercer County Courthouse by that same time, and another 363 showed up Monday.
As of October 31, 96,239 people had voted early in the state. Nearly twice as many were Democrats as Republicans.