First Lady Casts Her Vote, Encourages Others to Follow Suit

First Lady Michelle Obama had just cast her official ballot on Monday when she encouraged voters in the key swing state of Ohio to follow her lead.

“I’m feeling pretty fired up and ready to go, because this morning, let me tell you what I did – I cast my ballot for Barack Obama,” she told a cheering crowd at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. “It felt so good. Right now my absentee ballot is on its way to my hometown, Chicago. That means we are one vote closer to re-electing my husband.”

Before taking off for Ohio on Monday, Obama tweeted that she had just placed her absentee ballot in the mail, while President Obama followed shortly with a tweet announcing that he would be voting on October 25. He’ll vote in person in Chicago, giving cameras a chance to get a photo-op of him casting his ballot, even though it will be nearly two weeks before most of the rest of the country votes.

The Obamas’ home state of Illinois is reliably blue and not in contention, but the first couple has been encouraging voters in the key swing states to register and vote early. Voting in Virginia, Iowa, Ohio and New Hampshire is already underway.

Early voting also began in Georgia with a heavy turnout on Monday, but that state is firmly entrenched on the Republican side of the ledger.

Thirty-two percent of voters say they’ll cast ballots early, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Among those who plan to vote early, Obama holds the advantage, 54-43 percent, underscoring the particular importance of early turnout to his campaign. In ABC/Post polling in 2008, he won early voters even more widely, by 58-40 percent.

Michelle Obama has been one of the campaign’s chief advocates for mobilizing the Democratic base to vote early. Her campaign schedule has often been crafted to put her in swing states when early voting begins.

On the stump, the First Lady calls early voting the campaign’s “secret weapon.”

From here, Mrs. Obama heads to Chapel Hill, N.C. on Tuesday and to Wisconsin on Friday, both states that begin early voting this week.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Obama for America spokesperson Jen Psaki said they had a “superior” early voting effort compared with Mitt Romney’s campaign.

“We want you all to vote early,” she said. “We want you to think about voting early, whether it’s by mail, or in person, vote early. Because if you vote early, then you can spend your time on Election Day getting everyone that you know out to vote.”

How much turnout either side can muster on Election figures to be critical in what is a tight presidential race. A new national poll showing Obama with a slight edge over Romney gave Democrats some cheer Monday morning, but its results largely confirm the same virtual dead heat that other surveys have reported over the last week.

Although the national vote estimate has been slightly narrower over the past week and has tipped slightly to Romney at times, Obama has maintained an advantage in the crucial battleground states.

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