Friday, May 2, 2008
Early voting turnout in Indiana looks favorable for Obama
INDIANAPOLIS - Early voting in Indiana could offer some encouragement to presidential hopeful Barack Obama, who needs a victory in its upcoming primary after a tough few weeks on the campaign trail.
Obama victories in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries on May 6 could help him regain momentum in his nomination fight against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Obama has been on the defensive because of comments by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and his own comments about people in small towns growing bitter.
About 20 percent of the 127,000-plus absentee ballots received as of early Friday were cast in three Indiana counties -- Marion, Monroe and Lake -- that political observers believe Obama is strongly favored to win.
Lake County has a large population of black voters and is in Chicago's shadow. Obama has typically won big among college-age voters, and Monroe County is the home of Indiana University in Bloomington. Obama's campaign sought out IU students with voter registration and early voting drives and a free Dave Matthews concert.
Robert Dion, a professor of American politics at the University of Evansville, said Obama has mounted an innovative campaign that's stressed early voting and his supporters appear more energized than those for Clinton.
"In a close race, modest advantages in organization can yield big results, and if Obama out-organizes the Clinton campaign on these absentee ballots, it would be a great boost to him," Dion said.