The spin war over how to read early voting numbers in Ohio continues.
The Obama campaign continues to assert that a meticulously constructed, massive ground operation built over years is now resulting in better early vote turnout this year than even four years ago, when President Obama won Ohio.
In a conference call for reporters Friday, national field director Jeremy Bird and Ohio adviser Aaron Pickrell said counties won by Obama four years ago are voting at a higher rate than counties won by John McCain. In those counties, 12 percent of voters have so far turned out, as opposed to 9 percent of registered voters in Republican counties. And they say that voters in precincts that backed Obama in 2008 have so far cast 53,400 more
ballots this year than in precincts that voted Republican 2008 -- exceeding that same measure in 2008 by 23,400, even accounting for shifted precinct lines since the last election.
"The bottom line is what we’re seeing here in Ohio is the exact race we planned for and built for," Pickrell said.
They say such numbers are more telling than those Republicans have been circulating, which show that Republican votes have exceeded the percent of registered Republicans in counties across the state by more than Democratic votes have exceeded Democratic registration. Ohio voters do not register by party, however, so all such figures are based on an approximation of voting patterns based on participation on past primaries.
Though public polling has indicated that Obama is winning the early vote by a wide margin, they've also shown Romney with a wide lead among Ohio independents, including by 15 points in a Time Magazine poll this week that had Obama up 5 points statewide. "That’s just not possible." Write it down – if Mitt Romney wins independent voters by 15 points in Ohio, he’ll be the next President of the United States," Romney advisers wrote in a memo
Republicans also claim measuring turnout by precinct is a poor way to discern who is ahead--noting that Obama won many precincts in 2008 that had been, until then, traditionally Republican precincts. They believe those precincts will return to form this year. And they say their ground game this year is far beyond what McCain had in 2008, asserting Republicans will knock on 300,000 doors and make more than 400,000 phone calls in Ohio this week alone.
The Obama campaign said volunteers gathered at 500 Ohio spots last weekend to start canvassing and making phone calls -- and will get together at 830 locations this weekend. Campaign officials said that's a sign of a robust network of volunteers who have been charged with organizing their own neighborhoods.
"They don’t just make phone calls," Bird said of Obama volunteers. "They know these voters. They registered these voters. They get these voters registered -- and then they turn them out."
"We’re more than happy to put our numbers against their numbers any day of the week. And since every day in Ohio is Election Day, we can," he said.