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Thank goodness, our national media never jumps to conclusions. So, in the interest of explaining what early voting really means:

Politico (Molly Ball): The early vote: signs of GOP passion

Just over a week before Election Day, signs of widespread Republican enthusiasm are apparent in the early-voter data, including in some places with highly competitive statewide races. Yet at the same time, for Democrats there are promising data in numerous states suggesting that the idea of a devastating turnout gap may be overblown.

National Journal: Early Voting Casts Doubt on the Enthusiasm Gap

Over three million Americans have already voted in the midterm elections, and so far at least, the numbers don't quite reflect the widespread narrative of an enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats. While Republican turnout has been robust, Democrats are reporting a better picture than expected.

Nate Silver: Early Voter ‘Enthusiasm Gap’ Appears Consistent With Polls

I would, however, urge some caution when reading articles about these early voting statistics. Like most other types of political data, they can be prone to either misinterpretation or to "spin."

Michael P. McDonald: Does Early Voting Show Republican Enthusiasm?

Unfortunately, Nate's analysis is fatally flawed. Molly provides the key damning evidence against Nate -- and against her own [Politico] headline.

Nate Silver: A Second Pass at Early Voting Totals: Now With Extra Skepticism

If you take just one point from yesterday’s article, I’d really prefer it be the former,  more skeptical one. A lot of the analyses of early voting figures are quite flawed. I’ll take some blame here for having selected a poor headline, which did not emphasize this point enough.

WaPo: Election Day could bring historic split: Democrats lose House, keep Senate

In addition, early voting is underway in 29 states, and initial indications suggest that Democratic turnout could be higher than expected in many of those.  

AP: More Democrats casting early ballots

Election Day is already over for more than 3 million Americans, and a surprising number of them are Democrats.

TIME: Why You Should Ignore Early-Voting Totals

The not-so-secret truth is that while parsing early numbers is a popular parlor game, it's not a particularly useful indicator.

Daily Kos (a week ago): What's with the early voting?

So, what to look for in "early voting" stories? Context. See what the population in question did in 2006 and 2008. See, if a poll, what the comparison is between early voters and election day voters (and see how different the more numerous election day voters are.) And don't make any assumptions that this year is exactly like any other year, or that early votes tells us what comes next.

I am glad that it is now crystal clear. How can the public possibly find this confusing?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 06:40 AM PDT.

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