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Mailbox Showing Early Voting

Mailing It In

Martin Shull

A new survey by Meeting Street Insights shows that over two-thirds of voters plan to cast their ballots early.

More voters are likely to mail in absentee ballots or vote early this year than ever before. Here in North Carolina, for instance, over 800,000 voters have already requested absentee ballots. That’s nearly one-fifth of the total number of votes cast by all methods in 2016—and there’s still 48 days until November 3rd!

Campaigns used to think of Labor Day as the point when voters would really start tuning in and paying attention. But now, with voting itself starting around Labor Day, candidates don’t have as much time to win voters over before they cast their ballots. In fact, a survey Meeting Street Insights conducted this month shows that over two-thirds of voters plan to cast their ballots early: 41% plan to mail in absentee ballots and another 28% plan to vote early in person.

Persuadable Voters Plan to Vote Early, Too

Campaigns up and down the ballot would be ill-advised to think they have 48 more days to make their case. About four-in-five voters who plan to vote for their district’s Democratic candidate for Congress plan to vote early, as do roughly three-in-five voters planning to back the Republican candidate. 

And the clock is ticking for winning over persuadable voters—that is, voters who are undecided on the generic Congressional ballot or who tell us they would just “probably” back the Republican or Democratic candidate. Two-thirds of this group tell us they plan to vote early, while just 21% plan to wait till Election Day to vote.

Majorities of Voters Across Party Plan to Vote Early

Considering that in the past Democrats have been likelier than Republicans to vote early, as well as the concerns expressed by some Republican officials about the security and reliability of mail-in voting, it should come as no surprise that more Democrats than Republicans tell us they plan to vote early this year. But while Democrats report being twice as likely as Republicans to plan to vote by mail, Republicans tell us they plan to vote early in person at higher rates than Democrats. So, while Election Day voters will skew Republican, big majorities across party lines tell us they plan to vote early.

The good news is that even in these divided times, there is wide, bipartisan agreement on early voting. The bad news, at least for those of us who live in battleground states, is that the commercials will continue through Election Day whether we vote early or not!

Meeting Street Insights conducted a national online survey of N=800 registered voters September 2–3, 2020. Quotas and weighting were set to ensure a sample that is representative of voters nationwide.

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