Vote Early, Not Often

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, three in 10 likely voters say they will vote early – nearly double from what it was in 2000.

Per ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer, Barack Obama leads John McCain by 26 points among likely voters who say they will vote early. Obama leads by a closer 7-point margin among those voters who will wait until Nov. 4 to cast their ballot.

Early voting is most popular in the West where a majority of voters (54 percent) say they will vote early or absentee.

Party officials from both sides have touted the Obama campaign's ground game and efforts to turn out the vote before and on Election Day. One Republican campaign official told George Stephanopoulos: "It's a whole different game …it's a new paradigm … it's scary."

ABC News is tracking early and absentee voting in battleground states and the numbers show that in several key states, Democrats have the edge.

Florida early voting:
Dem: 263,269
GOP: 146,290
Ind: 72,468

Florida returned absentee ballots:
Dem: 282,840
GOP: 410,950
Ind: 112,300

North Carolina early voting:
Dem: 307,058
GOP: 207,616
Ind: 109,328

New Mexico early voting:
Dem: 38,716
GOP: 17,027
Ind: 5,973

New Mexico absentee ballots:
Dem: 89,213
GOP: 60, 548
Ind: 19,734

Georgia total early votes: 892,230
Black Female: 197,574
Black Male: 119,368
White Female: 298,473
White Male: 242,931

Iowa absentee ballots:
Dem: 112,913
GOP: 61,399
Ind: 44,491

Obama maintains an 11-point lead (54-43 percent) in the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll.

McCain holds two rallies in Colorado on Friday. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reported earlier this week that ad buyers in that battleground state say that the McCain campaign has not purchased any more television ad time and is stretching out old buys instead.

Tivo Alert! Obama spoke with ABC News' Robin Roberts for an interview airing on Friday on "Good Morning America" and told her that his ailing grandmother has been "inundated" with get-well wishes this week.

"She has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails and flowers from total strangers who have read about her in my first book," Obama told Roberts before he flew to Honolulu to be with his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. "And so maybe she is getting a sense of, of long-deserved recognition at --towards the end of her life."

Michelle Obama will pinch hit for her husband on the campaign trail in Ohio with rallies in Columbus and Akron.

The Kicker:
"Nothing surprises me."
--John McCain on whether he is surprised by Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree

On the campaign front. . .

-- 12:00 pm ET: Holds Rally in Denver, CO.
-- 8:00 pm ET: Holds Rally in Durango, CO.

-- 9:00 am ET: Delivers Speech in Pittsburg, PA.
-- 1:00 pm ET: Holds Rally in Springfield, MO.

-- No Public Events. Honolulu, Hawaii.

-- 10:30 am ET: Holds Rally in Charleston, WV.
-- 6:45 pm ET: Holds Rally in Martinsville, VA.

-- 11:30 am ET : Holds Rally in Columbus, OH.
-- 3:30 pm ET: Holds Rally in Akron, OH

-- TBD: Holds Rally in Colorado.

At the White House. . .

-- 5:25 pm ET: Signs the NATO Accession Protocols for Albania and Croatia.
-- 5:45 pm ET: Meets with the Secretary General of NATO.

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