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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Early Voting Alters Campaign Strategies

A man places a sign letting people know where to line up for early voting at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati, Ohio. (AP)

It used to be that presidential candidates would hope to win over undecided voters during a debate.

But this year, voters in several states have already cast their ballots and a record number are expected to do so before election day — presenting challenges to campaigns.

In 2000, 16 percent of ballots were cast before election day. This year between 35 and 40 percent of ballots are predicted to come in early.

This is creating changes in the way campaigns are run and how politicians court votes.

For instance, the Obama campaign recently released a two minute ad where he directly addresses the camera. Usually such a long ad would be reserved for later in the campaign.

“People are making up their minds much earlier.”

– Wall Street Journal reporter Naftali Bendavid

“You can’t afford to use that so late in the campaign anymore. People are making up their minds much earlier” Wall Street Journal reporter Naftali Bendavid said.

But just because people are casting their ballots earlier doesn’t mean we know who wins earlier. The ballots are sealed until after election day, but the party affiliation of the person casting the ballot can be released.

“We usually see more Republicans represented in absentee voting while more Democrats vote early at in-person voting locations,” Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake said. “Right now the only thing to really say is that things look good for the Democrats in Iowa.”


  • Aaron Blake, Washington Post
  • Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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