NPR : News

Filed Under:

Election Day? Expert Says 35 Percent Of All Votes Could Be Cast Before Nov. 6

With voters in the swing state of Iowa today joining those in two-dozen other states who can already cast their vote for president, the surge in early voting is necessitating a change in campaign strategy, says Paul Gronke, director of the Early Voting Information Center.

Gronke tells NPR's Morning Edition that he expects some 35 percent of all votes in the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney to be cast before Election Day on Nov. 6, even though some states this year have limited early voting.

Gronke, a political science professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., estimates that up to 33 percent of voters cast early ballots in 2008, compared with about 20 percent in 2004 and 15 percent in 2000.

"I think campaigns have to mobilize over a longer period of time," Gronke says of the changes caused by early voting. "We don't really know whether those last-minute bombshells that ... don't allow your opponent time to react, we don't know whether they're retiming those or not, but you would think that you can't wait [until] after one-third of the electorate has voted to drop that information."

Despite some limits on early voting since 2008, Gronke estimates that 35 percent of all votes will be cast before Election Day. "As voters choose this method, they tend to continue, and others flock to it," he says.

Gronke explains that early voting differs considerably by region, with Western states in particular embracing the trend.

"We really have three elections going on at once," says Gronke. "We have one big election but three kind of regional elections. In the West ... half the ballots overall come in by mail. ... Colorado will be 75 percent of the ballots by mail. California may be between 50 and 60 percent."

"Then, in the Southeast you have kind of a balanced system, where about one-third of the ballots are coming in 'no excuse' absentee, another third will be cast early in person ... and then the other third at the polling place" on Election Day.

"And then you have the Northeast, where people still stand on street corners. They wave signs with their coffee, and they vote on Election Day."

Gronke says changes in voting patterns have caused campaigns to adjust how and when they try to reach potential voters.

Early voters tend to be partisan, ideological, better educated and higher income, he says.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Poetry Behind Bars: The Lines That Save Lives — Sometimes Literally

Words Unlocked, a poetry contest for juveniles in corrections, has drawn more than 1,000 entries. Its judge, Jimmy Santiago Baca, says it was a poetry book that helped him survive his own prison term.
NPR

When It Came To Food, Neanderthals Weren't Exactly Picky Eaters

During the Ice Age, it seems Neanderthals tended to chow down on whatever was most readily available. Early humans, on the other hand, maintained a consistent diet regardless of environmental changes.
NPR

Trump And Cruz Campaign At California GOP Convention

The remaining Republican presidential candidates have been making their case at the party's state convention. Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler explains the divisions on display among Republicans.
NPR

'The Guardian' Launches New Series Examining Online Abuse

A video was released this week where female sports journalists were read abusive online comments to their face. It's an issue that reaches far beyond that group, and The Guardian is taking it on in a series called "The Web We Want." NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with series editor Becky Gardiner and writer Nesrine Malik, who receives a lot of online abuse.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.