100 Days From Election Day: Not What it Used to Be
But that milestone has become something of a misnomer in an era when two states conduct elections strictly through the mail, voters increasingly vote absentee and many states allow early in-person voting that continues to grow in popularity.
As a country, we’ll collectively be glued to our television screens (or mobile devices) on the evening of Election Day to find out who won the White House and the battle for Congress. But to a significant degree, the outcome could be decided long before then, particularly in a few of the states that really matter.
Consider: Early voting in Ohio — perhaps the ultimate arbiter of the presidential race — begins 35 days before Election Day and runs through Nov. 2. That means Buckeye State voters can head to the polls on the first Tuesday in October (Oct. 2.). In Iowa, early voting begins even earlier — on Sept. 28. In Arizona, which could see a competitive Senate contest with implications for which party holds the majority in January, early voting begins Oct. 11.
“Historically, campaigns had around 14 hours to get voters to the polls on Election Day. Early and absentee voting expands that window significantly and fundamentally changes the rhythm of a campaign cycle,” said Phil Singer, a Democratic strategist and veteran of Senate and presidential campaigns. “Ads that get cut too early in a campaign don’t necessarily have much impact. But with early and absentee voting, an ad cut five months ahead of Election Day can have a real time impact that it wouldn’t otherwise have if voting were restricted to Election Day.”