In the presidential election of 2008, approximately 39.7 million or 30% of all votes were cast prior to Election Day, November 4, 2008. This is a significant increase from 20% in 2004 and part of the upward trend experienced since 1992, when 7% of all votes were cast early. These numbers are likely to increase in subsequent presidential elections as more states adopt early voting and more voters become comfortable with the practice.
In California, 45 percent of ballots were early, 44 percent in Texas, and over half in Arizona (53%), Colorado (79%), Florida (52%), Georgia (53%), Nevada (67%), New Mexico (62%), North Carolina (61%), Tennessee (59%) and Washington (89%). Early balloting constituted a significant part of the vote in many more states, and of course, 100 percent in Oregon.
There is clear momentum toward early and mail-in balloting as a solution to many of the Election Day problems that have plagued our elections in the past decade. But as an enfranchisement tool, it tends to increase turnout and (capital "D") Democratic performance. Look at that list above -- of the 12 states listed, five were formerly Red states flipped by Obama (I italicized them). Obama flipped a total of nine. The other four?
Iowa: 36 percent early voting
Indiana: 24 percent early voting
Ohio: 25 percent early voting
Virginia: 14 percent early voting
Only Virginia was flipped without substantial early voting performance. Missouri, which Obama lost by a little under 4,000 votes, has no early voting. It's no stretch to assume that had early voting existed in the Show Me State, it would've kept its "bellwether" status by flipping Blue. The systematic disenfranchisement of voters in Kansas City and St. Louis has served Missouri Republicans well over the years.
Of course, much of the Obama field operation was predicated on early voting, so correlation may be by design, rather than any inherent advantages Democrats have in early voting numbers. Regardless, expect Republicans to stand firm against further expansion of early voting in the states making asinine arguments like these.
It is ironically unfortunate that a system that encourages greater democracy seems to give a disproportionate advantage to our side, since partisan GOP interests will be motivated to stem its spread. The Oregon model (100% vote by mail) is the gold standard of electoral systems, and anything that gets us closer to that model is good for our democracy.