Early voting has changed everything we’ve come to think of about our Presidential elections. The election is not next week – it’s already well underway – and in some key states, it’s as good as over.
Florida has announced that beginning today, it will extend Early Voting hours from 8 to 12 hours daily. Why? The demand to vote – NOW! – is overwhelming. In 31 states, across the nation, voters are eagerly and patiently waiting in line for as long as 5 hours, often in bad weather, to Vote Early, to vote now!
Nothing a candidate says or does, in the days ahead, can change these votes. No October Surprise can allow anyone to go back and change their mind, change their vote. Put simply, if you’re campaigning today in a state where half the votes have already been cast, you’re only talking to half the voters. Your entire effort has been reduced by 50%. Your market has shrunk by half. If you’re behind, as everyone agrees John McCain is, it may be too late to catch up – no matter what happens between today and next Tuesday.
American Presidential elections will never be the same again. Early Voting has changed everything. Future candidates must arrange their campaigns to peak on the day Early Voting starts.
How many Americans have already voted? Are these numbers significant? According to George Mason University, which is tracking this daily (elections.gmu.edu), the number is 14,242,162. That represents 11.5% of all those who cast ballots in the 2004 Presidential election. But, the number of Early Voters in key states – those referred to as battleground states – is far higher than that.
In 6 of these battleground states the election may already be decided. Look at these numbers – and remember, these are NOT poll numbers, predictions of how voters will vote – these are ACTUAL VOTES, already cast and counted.
Florida: 2,063,157 – that’s 27% of all Florida votes in 2004
Georgia: 1,206,891 – that’s 36.4% of all Georgia votes in 2004
Colorado: 958,508 – that’s 44.6% of all Colorado votes in 2004
Iowa: 339,725 – that’s 24.3% of all Iowa votes in 2004
Nevada: 344,198 – that’s 41.4% of all Nevada votes in 2004
North Carolina: 1,411,999 – that’s 39.7% of all North Carolina votes in 2004
And there is still the rest of this week of Early Voting left. A lead – especially a substantial lead – in any of these states may be too big to overcome by voters who wait until Election Day to cast their ballots.
Early Voting in Ohio, according to the latest poll by SURVAY USA has Obama leading McCain by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%. That’s not a poll of how voters say they WILL vote; it’s a count of votes ALREADY CAST. The Gallup organization shows pretty much the same for Ohio’s Early Voters. Gallup has Obama leading McCain 53% to 43% in Ohio votes ALREADY CAST. Gallup goes further and asks if voters who have not yet voted intend to Vote Early in the week remaining until Election Day. Ohio respondents who say yes, they will, reply in favor of Obama by a margin of 54% to 40% over McCain. Of those Ohio voters who say they will wait until Election Day to vote, Gallup shows Obama leading among them also, by 50% to 44%.
In four vital battleground states, CNN figures show an Obama landslide in the making – not in voter preference, but among those who have ALREADY VOTED.
In North Carolina, CNN has Obama already leading 66% to 34%. In New Mexico, CNN shows Obama with a lead over McCain of 65% to 35%. In Nevada, the CNN numbers show Obama ahead by 64% to 36%. In Iowa, CNN says Obama leads McCain in votes already cast and counted by 63% to 37%. Can McCain overcome these enormous defecits? Reason dictates otherwise.
Do the math. When they say, the only poll that matters is the poll taken by the voters on Election Day, they now need to amend that, to add – plus the votes cast as part of Early Voting.