Pennsylvania has been all but written off by many observers as most likely in the pocket of President Barack Obama, but if the most recent GOP-commissioned Susquehanna Poll is to be believed, the race is at the very least still in play.
Republicans’ latest argument is that they are ahead in the closest thing Pennsylvania has to early voting: absentee ballots.
Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley said earlier this week that the party has a 19,000-ballot lead over the Democrats in absentee ballots requested and its over-performing its share of the 2008 absentee ballots by 2 percentage points.
Ballots can be requested right up until Oct. 30, so both parties still have time to boost their numbers.
According to the Department of State, as of Oct. 24, Republicans had requested 125,020 absentee ballots to Democrats 106,250: a GOP advantage of roughly 18,750. Independents and third-party voters have asked for 27,891 absentees. Republican ballots make up 48 percent of the total, while Democrats make up 42 percent of the total.
What’s it all mean? In 2008, Democrats requested 156,982 absentee ballots to Republicans’ 160,292, so both have a ways to go in the final six days. Independents requested 35,892 ballots in the last presidential election. Roughly 90 percent of the ballots requested in all three categories were voted.
That year, Democratic trailed Republicans by just 44 to 45 percent in absentee ballot requests.
In the wave election of 2010, the Republicans really beat Democrats on absentee ballots, 79,649 to 68,686. Percentage wise, Republican ballots made up 49 percent of the total, while Democrats made up 42 percent.
Republicans do appear to have a slight edge this year compared to 2008, with numbers closer to 2010 when they won big.
“With less than two weeks until Election Day, the unprecedented GOP ground game is producing dramatic results in absentee balloting and early voting (AB/EV) that will give us a critical edge. We will continue to build on this momentum in the next thirteen days, meaning it will be increasingly difficult for Democrats to cobble together the necessary votes,” Wiley said in a campaign brief.
Obama campaign officials said they are focused on election day.
“In 2008, almost 97 percent of Pennsylvanians cast their ballot on Election Day. While Mitt Romney is writing off Pennsylvania by moving key staff and resources out of the state, Organizing for America Pennsylvania has built a grassroots get-out-the-vote effort that dwarfs the historic organization we built in 2008. This weekend alone within 25 miles of our Allentown field office, OFA PA has 105 canvasses and phone banks. According to their own website, the Romney campaign has none.”
Obama won Pennsylvania by 10 percent in 2008, so the Republicans will have to do more than just up their absentee margin to flip the state for Romney.