Executive summary: the process is ongoing, and what’s being tracked are absentee/early ballot REQUESTS, not turned-in ballots. So it’s not telling us who’s ahead in Ohio; it’s merely telling us what we know of which party’s members are asking for ballots. In other words, it’s a possible measure of voter enthusiasm in Ohio. So…
% of 2008
The above shows first the total absentee/early ballot requests of all counties currently reporting*, for both 2008 and 2012; followed by the current totals for three of the top five most populous counties in Ohio (full information is not yet available in [Republican] Franklin and [Democratic] Montgomery counties). So, in 2008 the total absentee/early ballots for all counties currently captured by the linked spreadsheet was just under 741 thousand; the 2012 equivalent so far is currently 601 thousand, or 81% of 2008’s total. And when you look at the partisan breakdowns… simply put, the Democrats are not requesting absentee ballots at the same rate as Republicans are. Of the three counties listed above, only Hamilton is particularly Republican… yet Cuyahoga Democrats have yet to reach their 2008 numbers while the Republican numbers have, and it may still end up that Summit county Republicans will surpass the Democrats there. In fact, if this trend continues then total Republican early/absentee ballot requests in Ohio may surpass total Democratic ballots; it is uncertain whether the Democrats will match their 2008 totals, while the Republicans very probably will.
Shorter executive summary: what we know of early/absentee ballot requests in Ohio does not support the current narrative that Ohioan Democratic voters are as enthusiastic about voting in 2012 as they were in 2008. This in turn does not support the current narrative that the Democrats will do better in Ohio in 2012 than they did in 2008.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*This is an important caveat: there are considerably more counties out there that still need to report in. This report indicates that there were a total of 1.72 million absentee/early voters in Ohio in 2012; clearly the process has a way to go.
[**UPDATE: For the record, that ‘we’ is generic.]
[Another UPDATE: Fixed spelling.]