That's right … October.
Early voting starts in Iowa on September 27, and Ohio, October 2. One could have guessed that based on the recent travel schedules of the candidates.
In 1992, early voting was 7% of the total votes cast. In 2008, it was 30%, and it will be more, by quite a bit, this year.
Colorado, Florida, Georgia (Obama has a chance here), North Carolina, and Nevada all start voting between October 18 and October 22. With sophisticated voter tracking techniques, the likely results in some of these swing states may be reasonably predicted by the campaigns a week before election day, enabling them to move resources around the country if early voting shows a particular state to be a sure win or a sure loss.
One can also see the possibility of serious mischief in the closing week or so of the campaign. If an infinitely malleable candidate like Mitt Romney were to notice that he was doing worse than anticipated among suburban women, for example, he might adjust his rhetoric to be less bellicose on Iran, and more flexible (yet again) on abortion.
Indeed, can you realistically think of any position that Mitt would not change or embrace if he could see a path to victory in the last week of the campaign? Me either. Likewise, can you think of a tactic the Koch Brothers – Adelson team would not employ if they appeared on the brink of accomplishing the biggest leveraged buyout of all time … control of the US Government for chump change? Me either.
A couple of conclusions for Obama supporters. First, if you're going to help, the sooner the better. There will be votes cast in Iowa in two weeks, and Ohio in three. Early voting is most important for Obama voters, considering the efforts of Republican governors in swing states to shrink the electorate by voter ID laws. Second, expect absolutely anything in the last 10 days and beyond … think Florida 2000.
Don't be lulled into a sense of security by some favorable polling. Obama was two points behind McCain at this stage in 2008. Both Santorum and Gingrich enjoyed significant leads in key primary states. Romney super pac ads blew them both out of the water, carpet bombing them with negative ads.
We experienced some difficulties with the comment function. Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. As Bill O'Reilly says, name and town if you wish to opine. Special recognition for most supportive commentor goes to Kathleen Callaghan, my daughter, a stellar ESL teacher in Baltimore, Maryland.