Tales from the Trail

Boxer votes early, like a good Californian

POLITICS-USA/Election day may be nearly a month off, but U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer wasn’t confused, or cheating, when she went to the polls on Tuesday to vote (presumably for herself).  The three-term Democrat was just following what has become something of a time-honored practice for many Californians: early voting.

In fact, more than 41 percent of California voters voted by mail, or absentee, during the 2008 general election, a number that has risen nearly every year since the 1978, and Boxer’s camp says the Senator — who is facing the toughest reelection fight of her career against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina – was using it as a tool to increase voter participation.

Boxer, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, lives with her husband in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs, and cast her ballot at the Riverside County Registrar’s Office.

“Its an opportunity to remind voters that there’s still time to register to vote,” Boxer spokesman Dan Newman told Reuters.

The trend toward early voting, once a practice mostly of seniors and Californians with difficulty getting to polls, has in recent years changed the electoral landscape in the Golden State, forcing candidates to get their message out earlier. Those who husband their war chests until after Labor Day risk losing voters who make up their minds much earlier and mail in their ballots in early October.

Sunny skies on Nov. 4 could help Obama

The gods could be smiling on Barack Obama come Nov. 4.

Weather forecasters AccuWeather.com predict sunny skies across much of the country on Election Day, and good weather has historically helped Democrats at the polls.

A 2005 study found that lousy weather typically helps Republicans, as less-dedicated voters who typically favor Democrats tend to stay home rather than wait in line in the rain and snow.

To be precise, turnout drops by just under 1 percent for every inch of rain, or one-half percent for every quarter inch of snow, according to University of Pittsburgh professor George Krause, who co-authored the study.

Obama has 19-point lead with early voters — Pew

DALLAS – According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a 19-point lead over Republican rival John McCain among U.S. voters who have already cast their ballots.

The Pew poll, released on Tuesday, gels with other reports of a Democratic surge to the polls in states that allow early voting.

Obama holds a 53 percent to 34 percent lead among the sizable minority of voters (15 percent) who say they have already voted. Among those who plan to vote early but have not yet voted (16 percent of voters), 56 percent support Obama, while 37 percent support McCain,” Pew said.

Does anyone wonder who got Bush’s vote in early ballot?

WASHINGTON – While there have been reports of long lines and an occasional problem in states conducting early voting for the 2008 presidential election, one such voter had no problems at all — President George W. Bush.

Bush and his wife Laura voted on Friday using Texas’ early voting process, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“The ballots will be mailed back to Texas today,” she said, adding that the president and his wife would be at the White House for election night. In the 2002, 2004 and 2006 elections, Bush voted in Crawford, Texas, where he owns a 1,600 acre ranch.