News Column

Obama Briefly in Chicago to Cast Early Ballot

Oct. 25, 2012

President Obama will briefly visit Chicago today to cast his ballot early -- the first sitting president to do so.

Democrats have been aggressively trying to gain an advantage over Republicans in states that allow early voting. When Obama announced that he would be voting early, he said on Twitter, "If your state has early voting, join me," and directed followers to a link with more information about early voting.

Obama dominated early voting in 2008, giving him an edge over Republican John McCain well before Election Day.

In Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina, for example, Obama banked so many votes early in the process that he won each state even though he lost the Election Day vote, according to voting data compiled by The Associated Press.

Obama has repeatedly urged supporters to vote early, placing an emphasis on absentee and early voting during recent rallies in battleground states such as Florida, Iowa and Ohio. The strategy aims to free up campaign workers and volunteers on Nov. 6 to focus on a smaller number of potential supporters and make sure they get to the polls.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign has targeted supporters who don't typically vote in every election, placing a premium on getting those voters to cast early ballots. Most of Romney's remaining supporters would be people who are much more likely to vote, regardless of whether they are contacted by the campaign.

Obama's campaign has tried to bolster in-person early voting in states where that is already under way and reduce Republicans' typical advantage in absentee voting. Democrats lead Republicans in Iowa in vote-by-mail ballots and in-person early voting; in Ohio, Democrats have requested and cast more ballots than Republicans. In Florida, Obama's campaign has cut into the GOP's advantage in absentee ballots.

Analysts estimate that about one-third of all voters could cast their ballots before Election Day.

Contributing: Associated Press

Source: (c)2012 Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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