It was nearly one year ago to the day that the first votes were cast in the presidential election. [On September 18, 2008 some areas of the Louisville area in Kentucky began early voting.] The story of the 2008 election was the Obama campaign's organization. Fueled by dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers and savvy campaign operatives, the Obama candidacy excelled throughout the year; from the primaries through the general election. Toward the end of the campaign, a large part of that organization was built around not only get-out-the-vote efforts but on banking votes in states where early voting was allowed. If you can get folks to vote early, those are people you don't have to constantly badger in the last few precious hours of the race to go to their polling stations and vote.
What was exciting about this was that the groundwork for strategy in subsequent campaigns -- presidential and otherwise -- was being laid. At the close of the 2008 election, I was most interested in how the Republican Party would respond in future elections and/or how they would perform in the area of early voting if and when the GOP held an enthusiasm gap advantage. As polls in New Jersey and Virginia throughout 2009 have indicated, there does seem to be a bit more motivation on the right than on the left in both states' gubernatorial elections.
The perfect storm to test this, right?
Well, no. While likely voters in most of the recent polling samples have tilted toward the Republicans -- indicative of a more energized segment of registered voters on the right versus the left -- neither New Jersey nor Virginia have early voting systems in place. Republicans, therefore, cannot bank those early votes and watch as the less-energized Democrats attempt to catch up. No, that's why most of yesterday was spent trading financial figures in Virginia. A $7 million infusion from the RNC will certainly come in handy given the previous $5 million pledge from the DNC and a slight Deeds edge in cash raised over the last couple of months (though the Democrat trails McDonnell in cash on hand). Regardless, both sides will need the cash for a more traditional get-out-the-vote campaign leading up to the November 3 election.
And no, Massachusetts doesn't have early voting either (just absentee voting), so we'll have to wait (past the special election to fill Kennedy's Senate seat) until the early primary election of 2010 to see the effects of early voting at work again.
State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/15/09)
State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/15/09)
"Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk"?