In 2008, President Obama won Ohio 51%-47%. A key ingredient of the win was early and absentee voting. With that in mind, there has been a lot of chest thumping from Ted Strickland recently about absentee voting showing no enthusiasm gap in the Governor's race.
If only that were true.
A look at the three big counties should have Strickland worried.
Using numbers from Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton counties from Monday, it's clear that things aren't shaping up the way Strickland would like them to.
First, let's start with Cuyahoga.
In 2010, there have been 85,492 absentee ballots returned to be counted so far. At this same point in 2008, the year of Obama, 266,053 had already been returned. Even absentee requests are way down in Cuyahoga with their BOE receiving just 72% of the number of requests they had in 2008. Their partisan numbers aren't looking good either. In 2008, the number of registered Democrats in Cuyahoga stood at 395,712 and 38.62% of them requested absentee ballots. In the same election there were 91,500 registered Republicans and 39.78% of them requested ballots. Those numbers have seen a sharp change this year with over 24,000 fewer registered Democrats in Cuyahoga and just 31.95% of them requesting ballots. Meanwhile, registered Republicans have increased by over 16,000 and 45.31% of them have requested ballots. But the stat most amazing to me is that Republicans requesting absentees jumped from 36k to nearly 49k compared to the same time in 2008. What have Democrats done in the same time? They've gone from 152k requests at this time in 2008 down to 118k this year. Republicans have spiked. Democrats have plummeted.
Yes, Cuyahoga will still most definitely go to Ted Strickland, but the absentee numbers clearly indicate enthusiasm levels are nowhere near the levels seen in 2008, and that's bad news for the crown jewel of the liberal base in Ohio.
Onto Franklin County...
Franklin has seen 155,651 absentee requests for this general election. Despite a 65/35 partisan advantage for Democrats, absentee requests are statistically tied. Of all absentee requests, 38,561 are Democrats and 37,690 are Republicans. While I don't have numbers for 2008, you can look at how badly Obama won Franklin County for why a statistical tie in absentees is significant. Why? Obama won Franklin County in 2008 305,144 to 205,338 for McCain, or 59% to 40%. If Franklin ends up going 50/50 in 2010, just how absentees currently are looking, this could be devastating for Ted Strickland.
Finally, Hamilton County...
The Democratic registration advantage in Hamilton sits at 62/38 in favor of Democrats and Obama won Hamilton by nearly 21,000 votes. Despite that, GOPers have requested 11% more ballots than Democrats. Republican voters have requested 23,263 absentee ballots. Democrats have requested just 20,839.
In summary, all three of these counties should be flocking to Ted Strickland at partisan ratios similar to Obama's win in 2008 if Strickland wants to win. Very clearly, they are not. If Strickland can't overwhelmingly win these supposed bread and butter larger counties, he's in for a world of hurt on the evening of November 2nd.
The enthusiasm gap is real. And it spells bad news for Team Strickland.