Middleburg Heights, Ohio (CNN) - They got smoked in the early voting game in 2008, but this time around Republicans are closing the gap with Democrats.
Most observers here expect the early vote to tilt toward President Barack Obama, as it did in 2008. The Obama campaign has worked overtime to get their supporters to vote early and successfully sued the Ohio secretary of state to keep early voting locations open through the weekend preceding Election Day.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
Since early and absentee voting began on October 2, more than 1.4 million Ohio voters have voted or requested an absentee ballot. Almost a third of Ohio voted early in 2008, and Democrats expect that number to be even higher in 2012.
But Republicans have polished their early vote operation since 2008.
Four years ago, Democrats made up about 42% of the early and absentee vote while Republicans made up 22% - a dismal 20-point deficit that contributed to Sen. John McCain's defeat in Ohio.
Through Wednesday, however, the margin has narrowed: Democrats account for 36% of the early and absentee vote while Republicans make up for 29%.
Republicans are outperforming their voter registration in several of the state's biggest counties.
For instance, through Wednesday in Cuyahoga County, the largest county in the state and home to Democrat-heavy Cleveland, nearly a quarter million absentee ballots have been requested and some 80,000 have been returned. Those numbers strongly favor Democrats: 47,538 to 16,720 for Republicans. About 15,000 listed no party affiliation.
In Cuyahoga, Republicans only make up about 12% of registered voters. Ballot numbers through Tuesday of this week, however, signal that almost 22% of early voters in Cuyahoga are Republican.
Franklin County - which encompasses Columbus - trails Cuyahoga in absentee ballot requests but leads the state in the number of early in-person voters, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Registered Democrats voting early outnumbered Republicans by a 4-1 margin, the paper reported Thursday.
GOP officials, though, say their absentee and in-person voting turnout in Franklin is coming along nicely. Republicans account for just 16.5% of registered voters in the county, but make up 28.6% of early voting activity so far.
Early vote numbers in key counties like Lucas, Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren tell a similar story.
Additionally, a Republican National Committee source told CNN that among early voters not identifying with any party, RNC modeling has tagged 30.5% as Romney supporters and 24.9% as Obama supporters.
If correct, that gives the GOP a 5.6-point edge among unaffiliated early and absentee voters.
Ohio Democrats wave off the Republican boasting, and not without good reason.
Voters in Ohio do not register by party in traditional fashion. Instead, voters are only identified as Republican or Democrat based on their participation in a primary, making it difficult to know just where early vote sympathies lie.
Republicans had a competitive presidential primary earlier this year. Democrats did not. Is it possible someone that a Democrat in Toledo registered as a Republican to vote for Romney over Rick Santorum last March, but is now supporting Obama? Absolutely. But this hypothetical Obama supporter's absentee ballot would be marked Republican.
Recent public polls show Obama has a double-digit lead among early voters, and data shared by the Obama campaign reveals residents of precincts Obama won in 2008 are participating in early voting at a greater clip than those from precincts McCain won.
The bottom line: Few in either party question the Obama campaign's sophisticated ground game and most expect Democrats to bank more votes before Election Day. But Republicans have vastly improved their turnout effort in Ohio from the dog days of October 2008.
Looks like a lot of republicans are dreaming. Mitt Nuffmoney and is gang will be toast come November 6. Take a look at Nates Silver unbiased predictions for November. No way Nuffmoney can win this election. So tired of this false prophet can't wait to see him Bawl. Come Nov 6. Tagg you better show up with a lot of Kleenex. Young people your future is at stake. Do not fall prey to this liar. Look at who backs him. The Koch brothers, Adelson and etc.. All billionaires. No where in Nuffmoney speech is there plans for education and retraining of young people. He doesn't care. Obama backers are the working and middle class. Regardless of the spin from the right. Obamas got your back. We are his base. Lets support him. Go out and Vote. A no vote is a vote for
So OBAMA is still way ahead in OHIO but ROMNEY has gained some ground? Sorry but CLOSER only counts when playing House shoes.
A vote for Nuffmoney
Just like with the economy, Democrats don't understand numbers...we;;, no Dems but the Obama team. And let me tell you, they look at these numbers and they crap a brick. The sickening stench of Obama's defeat in the Buckeye state is flowing to their nostrils. Thick and pungent.
if your man the twitt was that good why are they trying to stop people from early voting?
Some of you are hilarious. CNN is the new FOX, huh? Just because you don't like the news doesn't mean the source is biased. The TRUTH is that Romney has put together the biggest ground game ever seen by a republican candidate. The TRUTH is that while yes, Democrats do indeed have a lead in early voting, that lead is nowhere near what it was in 2008, and that it not a good sign at all if you are Obama. McCain actually won the election day vote in 2008, so that big early voting advantage was essential to Obama's winning OH. Without that big lead going into election day, it will be very tough for Obama. Also, there is something that most folks do not understand about Romney's ground game. While Obama seeks to bank votes among his loyal supporters during early voting, Romney takes a different approach. Most of Romney's effort in this early voting period is finding fringe voters and bringing them into the fold. In this way, Romney is not cannibalizing his election day votes nearly as much as Obama is. It's a different approach, but one that will pay off BIG. But, even ignoring that aspect, with republicans performing much better than 2008 in early voting, its going to be very tough for Obama. It won't be long before the polls start shifting towards Mitt in OH, just like the national polls have done.
Early voting in Texas is October 22nd. I know people in Texas who are Republicans, but refuse to vote for Romney. One said to me "I will say what John Bohner said on the house floor – "Hell No"!
People in Ohio are to smart to vote for romney the tax cheat and the gop that tanked the economic only four years ago ,gop train wreck in three weeks , vote early so the gop communist party can't rig the elections. Vote in personal, don't mail in !!!!
So, America's middle class is willing to once again put the trickle down economics man in charge of America, hoping of course that this time it really will work. Apparently outrageous CEO "trickle down" wages and pensions aren't enough for hard working Americans to get their feeble minds locked around. Put Romney in office and I imagine we'll be right back where we were in 2007. Only this time, it won't be me and my husband losing our jobs ... it'll be everyone else. As for me and mine, this time GOPer votes will cost us our Social Security and our Medicare.
Hopefully all you GOPers will then be satisfied.
remember Ohioans, vote a straight Dem ticket! FORWARD!
I voted for Obama. And direct dem. tkt.
Begging–Get ready, If Mitt/Paul wins you won't know what BEGGING is you'll be Beggin' for God to give you a chance to wake up from your nightmare so you can VOTE Obama/Biden 2012
The Democrats – at least the rest of them and most likely the majority of them – are waiting to vote on election day – It's so confusing as to what is going on in Ohio, that would be the only safe thing to do!!
Obama/Biden 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!
Jim Froster–If Romney wins–Your job under Romney will be to clean the sewer so I am glad you are willing to work with/o benefits and no set miniumn wage–Purcahse a gas mask for your new task!