Early voting could be the solution President Obama needs to gain an edge on an opponent quickly closing the gap.
After Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance last week, several polls both nationwide and in critical swing states showed the GOP challenger closing a gap that looked like it might become insurmountable. That could be changing as a court decision in Ohio will allow early voting that is believed to be a boost to Obama’s chances.
As The Associated Press reported, a federal appeals court on Friday reinstated in-person early voting in Ohio for the final three days before the November 6 election. A previous state law had ended early voting on the Friday evening before a Tuesday election, but the extra three days are believed to be a boost to Obama’s chances.
In 2008, early voting, which is allowed in 34 states and the District of Columbia, went heavily toward Obama. Close to 30 percent of all voting, or about 1.7 million ballots, came before Election Day that year.
“As a result of this decision, every voter, including military, veterans, and overseas voters alongside all Ohioans, will have the same opportunity to vote early through the weekend and Monday before the election,” said Bob Bauer, general counsel for Obama for America.
Early voting is seen as a defense against Mitt Romney’s growing momentum in the race. Though most pollsters concede that they expected the race to tighten in the final weeks, Romney’s gains since last Wednesday were sharper than expected.
A poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos found that Obama’s lead is down to two percentage points as he leads Mitt Romney among likely voters 47 percent to 45 percent. This is down from a six point lead going into the debate.
“Romney’s performance in the debate I think has improved his share of the vote for now … It’s a significant change from where we were a couple of weeks ago,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.
But Clark said that Romney’s gains seem to have a limit, and, if the debate were a true game-changer, he would have to have overtaken Obama in the polls. With early voting moving ahead in Ohio and other critical states including Virginia, many believe Romney still has a steep hill to climb.