2008 is the year of the Early Voter. According to Prof. Michael McDonald at George Mason University -- who has become the "go to" source for early voting stats -- "tens of millions of people have already cast their ballot for the 2008 presidential election.

Early voting has been especially big in three Southern states: North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. As of this morning, there states were part of an elite group: they are among only eight states in the country where the 2008 early vote has already surpassed 50% of the total votes cast in 2004.

RANKINGS: 2008 EARLY VOTE AS % OF 2004 TOTAL VOTE

1 - North Carolina: 66.2%
2 - Tennessee: 63.1%
3 - Georgia: 53.3%
4 - Texas: 42.1%*
5 - Arkansas: 31.8%

The other states where 2008 early voting has eclipsed 50% of the 2004 total vote are Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. The other two Southern states with early voting -- Louisiana and West Virginia -- were still under 14% of their total 2004 vote as of this morning.

Here are McDonald's last set of statistics from this morning, before he goes into seclusion in the media exit poll center:

Arkansas
340,964 early voters -- 31.8% of the total vote in 2004
No demographic break-down

Florida
3,360,088 early voters -- 44% of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 45.6%
Republican: 38.2%

Georgia
1,767,139 early voters -- 53.3% of total 2004 vote
White: 60.5%
Black: 35%
Men: 40.4%
Women: 56.4%

Louisiana
266,880 early voters -- 13.6 of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 58.5%
Republican: 28.4%
White: 60.8%
Black: 36.3%
Men: 43.5%
Women: 56.5%

North Carolina
2,350,712 early voters -- 66.2% of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 51.8%
Republican: 30%
Under 45: 36.6%
65+: 22.7%
White: 69.5%
Black: 26.3%
Men: 42.7%
Women: 56.4%

Tennessee
1,550,030 early voters -- 63.1% of total 2004 vote

Texas*
3,117,005 early voters -- 42.1% of total 2004 vote

West Virginia
96,239 early voters -- 12.5% of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 59.4%
Republican: 31.5%

* NOTE: Texas stats are for 15 largest counties only.