Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WSJ Reports GOP Edge

From today's WSJ:

Republicans have had an advantage with early-voter turnout over Democrats because of better party funding and organization, according to Paul Gronke, director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Oregon, a state where traditional Election Day polling has been eliminated altogether in favor of voting by mail. "I suspect it will still be their advantage," he said.

In congressional districts from Ohio and Florida to New Mexico and Arizona, Republicans report that their get-out-the-vote organization is gaining traction a week ahead of Election Day. The aim of the effort generally is to maximize turnout among their most loyal and reliable voters. If successful, it could help them to hold down their losses in this election cycle and perhaps even retain their majorities in the House and Senate.

In the fiercely contested New Mexico district held by Republican Heather Wilson, the party says that the number of absentee ballots already requested by Republicans has almost reached the number requested in 2004 -- nearly 22,000 so far this year, compared with almost 24,000 in 2004. The party says it is on a pace to exceed 2004.

Meanwhile, in the bellwether Ohio district held by Republican Steve Chabot, about 60% of all early votes are coming from the roughly 40% of the electorate that the party has targeted for early voting. That's the highest rate in the country, according to an internal party memo, and good news -- "provided they vote the way we predict," the memo adds.

In two Florida districts that are in doubt -- the 13th and 16th, previously held by Reps. Katherine Harris and Mark Foley, respectively -- Republicans are ahead in both absentee balloting and early voting. In previous election cycles, Democrats have enjoyed an advantage in early voting, party operatives say.

And in the Georgia congressional district now held by Democrat Jim Marshall, "nearly twice as many of our supporters are voting as they should be, based on population," according to the internal memo. President Bush will visit the district today to stump for the Republican challenger, former congressman Mac Collins. Republicans hope to unseat Democrats in two districts in Georgia as a way of offsetting losses expected in districts across the Midwest and in the Northeast.

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