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Today's the First Day to Absentee Yourself

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Today is the first day you can sign up to be an absentee voter in California for the Feb.5 Primary. To do so, click here and fill out the form.

The application must be received by election officials no later than midnight on Jan. 29.

More than half the total votes in California's Primary could be mailed in, and many of those ballots will be cast long before Election Day. (AP)

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The use of mail-in ballots has grown rapidly in California in recent years, and analysts predict it could hit a record in 2008. In 2000, about one-fourth of the ballots cast in the presidential election came by mail. That grew to 33 percent in 2004. This year, analysts and campaign officials say it could be more than half.

Some 4 million voters in the state are enrolled as "permanent absentee voters," meaning early ballots for the primaries will automatically go to their homes. (AP)

You may have already received some mail and or calls from candidates who are pressing for votes. This is where the better funded campaigns have an advantage over the candidacies of potential nominees with less money. Hillary Clinton, for example, already has about 1,700 volunteers and a staff that has been working in California since May. Rudy Giuliani is staking his nomination on California (and the 20 other states voting that day) and has invested considerable funds and staff in California's 173 Republican delegates.

Democracy at its finest.

Polling data after the jump and the most useful website you will ever see if you are an undecided voter.

According to, Clinton still has a commanding lead in California over Barack Obama, 50 to 22. Keep in mind that the Pollster poll is from Dec. 17, well before Iowa declared Obama their golden political child. (And they also showed Clinton with a lead hours before Iowans proved them wrong).

That in mind, Real Clear Politics (RCP) puts Clinton's lead at 43 to 24 over Obama, while Field Research Corp. shows Clinton with a lead of just 14 (36 to 22).

Rudy Giuliani has basically owned the top mantle on most California polls since he started campaigning. The two changes have been how his lead has slipped and who second place is. RCP has averaged out dozens of polls from California and puts Giuliani ahead with a 25 to 16 lead over Mike Huckabee with Mitt Romney right behind them. Field Research Corp. tells a similar story.

Both Clinton and Guiliani's lead over their rivals has lessened after both placed third and sixth, respectively in Iowa. Their lead could lessen even more after New Hampshire where Obama is hoping to ride a wave of momentum and McCain is getting a boost from his strong Iowa finish and is picking up new endorsements.

One day before New Hampshire's Democratic primary, a new CNN-WMUR poll found Sunday, Obama has opened a double-digit lead over Clinton in that state.

McCain picked up the endorsement of one of Michigan's largest newspapers Sunday, just a little over a week before that state holds its Republican primary.

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In an editorial published Sunday, the Detroit Free Press wrote that while the paper "differs with McCain on a number of issues, the Arizona senator is a smarter, more tested pragmatic leader who has shown since 2000 that he knows how to build bipartisan alliances around issues ... He would be a formidable candidate for a party that needs one." (CNN)

For more information about the candidates and where they stand on choice issues, check out MSNBC's Issues Matrix, which might be the best format for helping you decide where each candidate stands on the important issues, like if Fred Thompson is a boxers or briefs guy and where John Edwards likes to stroll on his weekly Sunday night walks.

Or...where they stand on immigration, the economy and other things that could help you narrow down your choice for what is, without a doubt, the most important Presidential Election since 2004.

The moral of the story is, vote. Whether it's in person or by mail, it doesn't matter.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, vote or die!

Flickr image of absentee voting via craig1black