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Early, Absentee Ballots May be Key to Obama or Romney Victory

President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Election 2012, early voting, absentee votingPresident Barack Obama appears to have a lead over challenger Mitt Romney among early and absentee voters in several battleground states, but his early-vote margin isn’t nearly as large as the one he had four years ago over Sen. John McCain.

President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Election 2012, Early votingNearly 30 million people have already cast ballots in 34 states and Washington D.C., according to George Mason University’s U.S. Election Project. The ballots haven’t been counted yet, but since several states offer information about party affiliation of those casting early ballots, that shows how the sides are doing in getting people out to vote early, reports USA Today.

Democrats are leading the early vote in Florida, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina, four of the five battleground states. Republicans have an edge in Colorado, a reversal from four years ago when Democrats were ahead in the early vote and Obama won the state.

Republicans say smaller leads in early voting for Obama are signs Romney will win Tuesday.

Here’s how the battleground states stand:

Colorado: More than 1.6 million have cast early ballots, with 38,000 more Republicans voting already. More than 25 percent of those voting are unaffiliated. In 2008, Obama edged McCain in early ballots and took the state.

Florida: Democrats hold the edge among 4.4 million early voters. About 246,000 more Democrats cast early votes but 87,000 more Republicans cast absentee ballots. Obama had a 9-point lead in early votes in 2008 and went on to win.

Iowa: Democrats have an 11-point edge in early voting, which is a smaller lead for Obama than in 2008 but still a large margin. However, 40,000 have not returned their mail ballots, compared with 21,000 Republicans.

North Carolina: More than 2.5 million people have voted, and Democrats have a 16 point edge over Republicans. Obama took the state in 2008 with a 21 point edge in early voting.

Nevada: Obama has 7-point edge over Romney in early voting here. In 2008, Obama won the early vote here by more than 20 points and went on to win state by 13 points.

Ohio: This state’s 18 electoral votes could decide the election. More than 1.6 million have cast ballots, but voters aren’t required to register by party so information on early voters isn’t available.

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