If Barack Obama manages to win reelection this year, he can thank the hundreds of thousands of voters who have decided not to wait until November 6th to cast their ballots. A recent poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos shows him leading Mitt Romney 59 to 31 percent among early voters.
Why is that significant? Early voting played a crucial role in the 2008 election and, with the national polls now showing the race a dead heat and the President clinging to a slim lead in the crucial swing states he needs to carry him home, every vote is critical. It is quite conceivable that Obama could lose the popular vote but still win the electoral college. And a 28 percent advantage in early voting could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Forty states now allow early voting and, by all accounts, the turnout is exceeding '08 levels. Mitt Romney may have transformed himself from the Dark Lord to Luke Skywalker, but in the end it may not be enough to get him the White House.