Obama Leads Romney in Early Voting, Aide Axelrod Says

Early voting is giving President Barack Obama a lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in battleground states such as Iowa, Obama campaign senior political strategist David Axelrod said.

“The main thing is not to look at the polling but to look at the voting,” Axelrod said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We believe that we are mounting up a very, very large lead in Iowa based on where those early votes are coming from,” he said, while indications in Florida “are very positive.”

Iowa and Florida are among the nine swing states where both campaigns say the Nov. 6 election will be decided. They account for 110 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. Democrat Obama has emphasized early voting and cast his own early-vote ballot in his hometown of Chicago on Oct. 25.

Early voting in Iowa, Ohio and Florida shows the campaign’s strategy “is starting to pay off,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s first White House chief of staff. In Ohio the president is up almost two to one in early voting, he said.

“That’s an indication that the field operation, the communication strategy and the message of a resurgent strengthening middle class is essential,” Emanuel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Ohio Poll

An Ohio Newspaper Association poll released today showed Obama ahead among those who’ve already voted, according to the Cincinnati Inquirer newspaper.

At the same time, the poll of 1,015 likely voters from Oct. 18 to Oct. 23 showed Obama and Romney tied at 49 percent support in Ohio, a swing state with 18 electoral votes. No Republican presidential nominee has ever been elected without carrying Ohio. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged on the CNN Sunday morning program that Obama is ahead in early voting, while downplaying the overall impact that may have.

“What they’re not telling you is that they are a fraction of where they were in 2008,” he said. “We’re far ahead of where we were in 2008.”

Romney’s Momentum

Recent polling shows that the momentum is shifting in Romney’s favor, Priebus said.

“When you have the momentum and you’re a challenger in a tie race, the challenger wins,” he said. “They’re not as good as they think they are.”

“The energy and enthusiasm is on our side right now” after the presidential debates, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, said on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

Hurricane Sandy is adding an element of uncertainty to the election campaign as the two candidates crisscross swing states in search of votes. Eager to avoid the appearance of putting politics before public safety, both campaigns have canceled events and adjusted travel schedules.

A White House official said Obama will visit the National Response Coordination Center at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, where FEMA is currently coordinating the deployment of federal resources and teams to East Coast states.

Obama canceled planned events tomorrow night in Northern Virginia and the following morning in Colorado Springs because of Sandy, the White House said late last night.

Some ‘Havoc’

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the hurricane “will throw a little bit of havoc” into the Nov. 6 election, “but I think Virginians are ready to go to the polls.” Virginia is one of the swing states both candidates have targeted.

A Washington Post poll shows Obama holding a narrowed lead over Romney in Virginia, 51 percent to 47 percent among likely voters, down from his lead of 52 percent to 44 percent in mid- September. The latest survey, of 1,228 likely Virginia voters, conducted Oct. 22-26, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and demonstrates how important the last week of campaigning may be for both men.

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether the storm would hinder Obama’s campaign in Virginia, where the president has canceled campaign events, Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager, said “we have to see how it goes.”

“We’re all hoping that the hurricane doesn’t have huge consequences for people’s safety,” Cutter said. “The president took down a couple of stops so that he could be at the White House to monitor the situation.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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