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Republicans are touting early voting numbers in Ohio to claim Romney will win.

Ohio's early voting numbers on George Mason's Election Project don't include all counties so the numbers on all counties aren't up-to-date.

Trolling some twitter feeds by Ohio pro-R political scientists, I came across this chart they are touting: county-by-county figures in early voting: 2012 vs. 2008. (They combine numbers readily available on the Ohio election web site.)

This is their summary (pretty much verbatim from the report):

*Only one or two Obama counties have matched 2008 levels so far. Cuyahoga is at 89% and Franklin at a "troubling-for-Obama" (their words) 81%.

*Meanwhile, 21 of 39 McCain counties are over 100% (Wayne County up more than 200%) vs. 2008, and all but five at at least 90%. What they describe as "core counties" Warren (120%) and Butler (102%) "show the contrast with Cuyahoga and Franklin for Obama."

Looks ominous? Seems so, right? They have another chart that compares 2008 and 2012 early votes and attributes the percentage each county contributes to the total:

This adds up to Obama counties contributing 66 percent of the total vs. 34 for Romney counties in 2012, down from a 69-31 split in 2008.

If you assume the same margins (Obama vs. McCain) in each county, Obama leads by 87,740 votes in 2012 early voted compared to 121,067 in 2008. That's a drop of 34,000. If you add to that stronger support for Romney than McCain in Ohio, that difference could cut Obama's lead in early voting to about 50,000.

(On Fox News yesterday, they asked David Axelrod about the Ohio early voting -- where supposed D/R/I identifications were added -- to show a swing of 250,000 votes that basically wiped out Obama's margin of victory in 2008 -- he beat McCain by 267,000.)

But there is one caveat:

2012 is different from 2008 in that absentee ballot applications were sent to all Ohio voters for the first time in 2012, and it was expected to have a greater effect in rural counties with lower volumes of early voting in 2008, ie lots of Republicans who would have voted on Election Day voted by absentee ballot for the first time this year. (It is in these counties that McCain ran up huge win margins in 2008 -- 20 percent or more in 31 counties, 30 percent or more in 11 counties.)

Finally, 2012 is different from 2008 in another way. Sadly. Ohio's move to cut back weekend walk-in voting to one weekend has cut down the Obama vote in urban areas. In the Democrats' favor, the hope is that those who didn't walk-in because of the Republican Secretary of State's decision to limit walk-in voting will vote on Tuesday.

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