Early voting is turning out more voters who sat out 2010

Getty Images

Early voting trends show turnout efforts appear to be paying off in several battleground states. Early voting is up particularly in the states with close races that will affect the balance of power in the Senate. Over 20 percent of the almost three million early votes cast so far in Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa came from people who didn't vote in the last midterm election, according to a New York Times analysis of early-voting data.

Among these new midterm voters, Democrats have a nine-percentage-point advantage: 39 percent are registered Democrats and 30 percent are registered Republicans. And 30 percent of those midterm voters who didn't vote in 2010 are black, up six percentage points from 2010. Democrats especially need black voters to turn out in Georgia, where Democrat Michelle Nunn is running a tight Senate race against Republican businessman David Perdue, and in North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is trying to fend off a challenge from GOP opponent Thom Tillis.

Democrats have been working hard to turn out midterm voters, especially in these states where there are closely-fought Senate races. The predilection for Democrats in past elections has been to show up to vote in presidential years and then sit out the midterms. If the early voting continues at this pace, it will be good for Democrats, though they will need to see substantially more early voters in order to prevail in these races. CBS News Elections Director Anthony Salvanto said, "The early vote is especially critical to Democrats, because they have won it in these battleground states in the last presidential cycles. They need to do more than be even. They need to be up."

The Times points out that at this point, Democrats do not have the votes to surpass Republicans, given the expectation of stronger turnout for the GOP in midterm elections. And Salvanto also cautioned that the states' early voting data is incomplete, saying, "Also remember that we only know party registration from the pre-election numbers, which leaves unaffiliated voters as something that's more of an unknown."