Campaign strategies shift due to increase in early voting
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RALEIGH — Since the mid-1800's Election Day has fallen on the first Tuesday in November, but many states now offer a chance for voters to cast their ballot before that. Early voters in North Carolina now make a big percentage of the total amount of people that will cast a ballot which results in a shifting of campaign strategies.
“Almost half of the people have already voted. So its not that we are guessing that we will have a good night,” said Rep. Paul Stam, a Wake County Republican.
It has gotten a little easier when it comes to tracking voters and predicting outcomes on Election Day. That is because a big chunk of the electorate casts their ballots before the big day.
“I think we are going to be re-writing a lot of the rules of modern campaigning to adapt to these new types of delivery methods. Early voting and getting people to the polls earlier, this is going to be the way that campaigns are run into the future,” said Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer.
In 2008, the last presidential election, nearly 40 percent of all the people who voted cast their ballot before election day in North Carolina. Nearly 1.4 million of those voters were for now president, Barack Obama and about 1.1 million for Sen. John McCain.
As of Wednesday, just over 2 million voters have cast their ballots in North Carolina this year. Nearly 1 million are registered Democrats and over 650,000 are Republicans.
“Early voting has not been around that long. So to go from none at all to a huge proportion of the electorate voting early is really kind of an amazing thing,” said Stephen Greene with NC State University.
Early voting started on Oct. 18 and history suggests the busiest days are expected to be in the final days. Campaigns are still hitting the airwaves, mailboxes, and radio with campaign messages.
However political observers say that is because campaigns are now targeting the people who will head to the polls early.
“I think what is happening is that the campaigns are adapting themselves. Their recognizing that this new norm of early voting, that they have to have their ground game in effect well before the Tuesday after the first Monday,” said Bitzer.
Early voting continues through Saturday. Polls open on Tuesday, Election Day, at 6:30 a.m. To find an early voting location, visit the State Board of Elections website