Denver, Colorado Mayor Michael Hancock went off-script at a Milwaukee, Wisconsin rally yesterday when he told a crowd of Obama supporters, "If the election was held today, President Barack Obama would lose the state of Wisconsin because where his base is, we have not turned out the vote early."
Of course, when pressed on it, Hancock took it back and said, “We expect clearly that President Obama will win the state of Wisconsin.” The Obama campaign disputed Hancock's statement outright, "[T]he numbers we are seeing do not back up his assessment that our base is not turning out.”
When you're talking about Obama's base, you're talking about the liberal stronghold of Madison and the City of Milwaukee -- which has a large black population. As of October 30, with the shortened early voting window, early voting in Milwaukee was about half of where it was in 2008:
According to City of Milwaukee election officials, 16,449 early votes have been cast in-person as of Sunday night. Government Accountability Board data shows that the City of Milwaukee had 31,974 early votes cast in-person for the 2008 cycle. During the recall election earlier this year, when political energy was arguably even higher than it is now (Wisconsin is suffering from election fatigue), early voting was most intense in the first few days of the early voting period, tailing off to a reduced but steady stream days before the period ended.
Neil Albrecht, executive director of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission, predicted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that in-person early voting would exceed 2008 levels if the current rate keeps up.
Albrecht's prediction rings a little hollow with only a few days left that don't include a weekend, but you never know.
In 2008, Obama won Wisconsin by 14 points. Right now the real Clear Politics average has him up by four.
While I can't find any hard data for what the actual early voting breakdown looks like, what we do know is that the Republican legislature in Wisconsin shortened the early voting window from a full month to just two weeks. Early, in-person voting began Oct 22 and ends this coming Friday, Nov. 2. Within that window is only one weekend. Of course, this doesn’t include absentee ballots.
We also know that after two massive recall elections, Wisconsin Republicans were able to turn out their vote in ways that caught many pollsters off guard. This is an electorate and infrastructure that has learned how to vote, knows how important voting is, and is once again every bit as motivated as they were when Scott Walker won his recall election by a higher margin than his original election.
But what do we know about early voting from the polls? Well, not much. In a poll released October 19, Rasmussen told us this in a poll that showed Obama up two, 50-48%:
Wisconsin allows early voting, and among those who have already voted, it’s Romney 54%, Obama 43%. Of those who have yet to vote, 90% say they’ve already decided whom they will support. Obama leads 50% to 49% among these voters.
Sounds great for us, right? Except… In a Marquette Law School poll released today that shows Obama up 51-43%, Obama leads among early voters, 56-36%.
Bottom line: If you were hoping this post would add some clarity to what's happening in Wisconsin, I, unfortunately cannot help you.
UPDATE: Scratch that. Thanks to the wonders of Twitter, I received some actual numbers that might help explain Hancock's anxiety and added them to the post. My thanks to Nate Mauch.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC