October 15, 2020
Almost every political article, television story, or podcast from now until November 3 will contain some variation of the statements “with only X days until the election” or “under X weeks until the election.” While these statements are true from a purely temporal perspective, they are completely disconnected from the reality of the 2020 campaign.
The fact is that TODAY is Election Day…as is tomorrow…as is the day after tomorrow…as is EVERY day through November 3. Because of the massive increase in early voting — either in person or by mail — we actually are in the second week of Election Month.
Don’t believe me?
Then check out the best political web site you’ve probably never heard of: Michael McDonald’s The United States Election Project. On this site, Dr. McDonald (an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida) track’s U.S. voting data — including the early vote totals for each state. Here are just a few of the startling statistics he’s shared so far:
- As of this afternoon (October 15) over 17.5 million Americans already have voted. Only two days ago, that number was just over 10 million.
- To put these numbers into perspective, according to Dr. McDonald on October 16, 2016 approximately 1.4 million votes had been cast in that election.
- These large 2020 numbers include over 2 million votes in the critical state of Florida, over 1 million votes in the swing state of Michigan, nearly 1 million in Georgia (which is surprisingly a toss up right now, according to polls), and over half a million in each of the following key states: North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
- As of yesterday (October 14) four states (New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont, and Wisconsin) had already exceeded 25% of their 2016 total turnout. And five others (Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) had already exceeded 20% of their 2026 turnout.
And all of these numbers are growing exponentially on a daily basis. In fact, if the pace of voting continues to pick up as it has over the past few days, it’s not unreasonable to think that well over half of all 2020 votes will be cast BEFORE November 3. (And that could be a conservative estimate.)
However, too many media outlets, political pundits, and average Americans continue to act as if this is like all previous elections. I would even argue that President Trump’s campaign is guilty of this as well, given that they refused to participant in tonight’s scheduled debate because of the proposed virtual format. And make no mistake…their candidate desperately needs to do something to change the trajectory of the campaign.
The implications of the 2020 campaign as an election month, not a day are both numerous and significant. But I’ll save a discussion of those for another column. For now, just keep reminding yourself and others that we are NOT “X days or weeks away from the election”— today and every day until November 3 is Election Day.
For those of you wondering why I’m qualified to write about this topic, I have a Ph.D. in Human Communication Studies from the University of Denver — with an emphasis on leadership, power, and persuasion. My dissertation research focused on political communication, specifically Ross Perot’s 1992 Presidential campaign (“A Mythic Analysis of Ross Perot’s 1992 Campaign Infomercials as a Modern American Jeremiad”). And I have worked on — or consulted for — a number of political campaigns, ranging from the mayoral to the Presidential level.