One potentially dispositive question is what mix of Republicans and Democrats will show up this election. On Friday last week, Gallup hinted at the partisan makeup of the 2012 electorate with a small chart buried at the end of its daily tracking report. Based on all its October polling, Gallup suggested that this year's turnout might be 36% Republican to 35% Democratic, compared with 39% Democratic and 29% Republican in 2008, and 39% Republican and 37% Democratic in 2004. If accurate, this would be real trouble for Mr. Obama, since Mr. Romney has consistently led among independents in most October surveys.
Gallup delivered some additional bad news to Mr. Obama on early voting. Through Sunday, 15% of those surveyed said they had already cast a ballot either in person or absentee. They broke for Mr. Romney, 52% to 46%. The 63% who said they planned to vote on Election Day similarly supported Mr. Romney, 51% to 45%.
Furthermore, in battleground states, the edge in early and absentee vote turnout that propelled Democrats to victory in 2008 has clearly been eroded, cut in half according to a Republican National Committee summary.
But doesn't it all come down to the all-important Buckeye State? Here, too, the early voting news isn't encouraging for the president.
Adrian Gray, who oversaw the Bush 2004 voter-contact operation and is now a policy analyst for a New York investment firm, makes the point that as of Tuesday, 530,813 Ohio Democrats had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot. That's down 181,275 from four years ago. But 448,357 Ohio Republicans had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot, up 75,858 from the last presidential election.
That 257,133-vote swing almost wipes out Mr. Obama's 2008 Ohio victory margin of 262,224. Since most observers expect Republicans to win Election Day turnout, these early vote numbers point toward a Romney victory in Ohio. They are also evidence that Scott Jennings, my former White House colleague and now Romney Ohio campaign director, was accurate when he told me that the Buckeye GOP effort is larger than the massive Bush 2004 get-out-the-vote operation.
David Fuller's view This is interesting because the UK betting shops show Obama as a clear favourite at 1/4 and Romney at 11/4. Intrade has Obama leading by a 2-1 margin.
Whatever the result, I will certainly be relieved when the US election is over because it has been too much of a distraction for too long. At least I am not among those poor souls in swing states who have been hammered by all the mendacious Super PAC ads. Enough already!