Early Voting Underway In Half Of States, Boehner Adjorns House Early

As reported today by MSNBC, Early Voting is now underway in twenty-five states and will increase to thirty states by the end of the month. It is expected that one-third of all ballots cast will be through early voting, either in-person or by absentee ballot, before the November 6th election. That is an increase from 30% in 2008 and 20% in 2004.

Despite efforts in many states by Republican legislatures and governors to restrict voter registration and early voting by historically Democratic constituencies (students, minorities, the poor and elderly), early voting has been a growing trend in America with each general election. Early voting allows voters a greater opportunity to cast a ballot, without having to brave uncertain, colder November weather, take time off work and/or wait in long lines at polling places across the nation.

This improvement in the franchise has reduced the impact of several factors that have marred turnout and/or swung previous elections — one way or the other — due to late-occurring events. With so many voters casting early ballots, the impact of late advertising blitzes is diminished, particularly in swing states where many votes are already cast before the final weeks when the air waves are awash with even more wall-to-wall, thirty second spots touting one candidate after another. Also, the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate will have a lessened impact, as will the possible effect(s) of any last-minute ‘October Surprise.’

Most late-September presidential polls show President Obama with a lead of anywhere from 5% to 8% nationwide and similar leads in most of the hotly contested ‘swing-states.’ Mitt Romney’s recent gaffes and missteps have put him in an even deeper hole with respect to gaining any momentum or turning around a campaign largely in disarray…since the lackluster Republican Convention, his foreign policy opportunism and the now-infamous ‘secret video’ writing off 47% of the electorate.

Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire are the likely states which will decide this election. Romney is faced with having the daunting challenge of practically needing to ‘run the table’ to overcome the “solid Obama” or “leaning Obama” states which have nearly the total 270 electoral votes needed for reelection. Iowa has recently flipped from toss up status to leaning Obama and Pennsylvania appears out of reach for the Republicans (depending on the outcome of the pending Photo ID Law there, which was remanded last week by the state’s Supreme Court). Another key factor: the state of the economy and end-of-month unemployment figures (for September and October) will possibly have a lesser impact on the outcome with one-third of ballots having already been cast. Here are the most recent battleground state unemployment figures.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the Senate has adjourned after enacting legislation to prevent a government shutdown, as the federal government fiscal year ends on September 30th. Today, by a 62-30 vote, the Senate sent a ‘stopgap’ funding measure to President Obama so the federal government can keep the lights on. Most analysts are now predicting that the Democrats are likely to hold their slim majority in the Senate, although it is speculated that Republican Super PACs may soon shift their advertising focus away from the presidential race and focus on congressional contests as the Romney/Ryan ticket continues to flounder in the polls.

Yesterday, Republican Speaker John Boehner adjourned the House of Representatives, leaving mountains of unfinished business for the brief ‘lame duck session’ after the election. It is the earliest adjournment by the House of Representatives in a general election year in fifty years! With so much unfinished business and congressional approval polls at all-time lows, one can only wonder: what is John Boehner thinking?

The early adjournment brought sharp criticism from Democrats. As noted by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), “This is simply irresponsible, and Republicans ought to come back and finish their work, not cut and run and walk away from the American people.” Seizing on the vast amount of unfinished legislative business, Hoyer remarked, “Shame on them, shame on them for abandoning our farmers, our economy, and families that need us to act.”

Could it be that the Republican House majority is in jeopardy, dragged down by Romney/Ryan at the top of the GOP ticket? Democratic Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is predicting a solid Obama reelection win and seems rather confident that the Democrats could win the 25 additional seats needed to gain a House majority, although most political analysts are predicting a gain of roughly a dozen seats for the Democrats.

Were the Democrats able to regain the control they lost in 2010 (with the off-year rise of the Tea Party-driven wave of Republican freshmen representatives), it would be only the first time that the House has flipped control from one party to the other in a presidential election year since 1952, when Republicans managed to wash out the large Democratic majorities in place in the House since 1932 and the New Deal years of F.D.R. and Harry Truman, except the brief Republican majority from 1947-49.

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