Experts: Early Voting Campaigning Meaningless




Anyone early voting in recent days threaded their way through a forest of political signs.  They navigated pasta scrum of campaign workers shoving palm cards in their hands.

But all that intense campaigning was meaningless.

It was sound and fury signifying nothing, to paraphrase The Bard.

Political experts say that voter contact at early voting locations is largely futile.

There is no proof that votes are swayed or changed by the campaigning outside early voting locations. No one interviewed by could cite research which indicates that early voting campaigning affects a race.

The reason is that the most dedicated and informed voters are the ones who early vote.  Most arrive at polling places already knowing what candidates are getting their votes, especially in high visibility races.

“I can’t imagine one voters didn’t know whether they were voting for Wasserman Schultz or Canova.  A sign out front or a brochure was not going to change anything in a race like that,”  one consultant told

The sheriff’s race or the heavily $2 million-plus scorched earth campaign between state Senate candidates Gary Farmer and Jim Waldman didn’t benefit from any campaigning at early voting, opined a well known South Florida-based political player with clients on the ballot.

All political professionals were dubious about signs. They noted that there were too many of them outside early voting locations too make a difference.



Signs outside a Tamarac early voting location. 


“Out of 100,000 or so voting in the primary, I would be surprised if 200 votes are moved by anything that goes on at the polls,” a second well-known political consultant with clients on the primary ballot said.

Interestingly enough, the political player was reached on a cell while driving to an early voting location.  With a load of palm cards.

“I’m superstitious,” the consultant quipped.



15 Responses to “Experts: Early Voting Campaigning Meaningless”

  1. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    So why do the signs increase like citrus mold n crab grass?

  2. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    With respect to the unnamed experts you quoted, while some voters do come to the polls with their minds 100% made up on every race on their ballot, most voters do not and could, with additional information, be persuaded, even at the last minute, to support someone they had not fully considered or now believe would do a better job.

    It happens all the time, every election day, very often.

    Point of voting campaign information does helps voters decide.

    In fact, some voters come to the polls not completely sure who’s even on their ballot. Some are undecided to the very last moment in many races or in a certain few races.

    Voters are largely busy running their own lives and only the most diligent of them comes 100% prepared or decided to cast a vote for every race on a long ballot. Specific candidate information does help many voters decide and it always has.

    With respectful reluctance, on this question, I would have to suggest that any political expert or consultant that doesn’t agree with that, well, they’re just not much of an expert about campaigns.

    And that’s why every meaningfully run campaign provides information to voters at voting locations. It helps voters decide how to best cast their votes. Even if that information is provided last minute. And nothing helps persuade them more than having the candidates themselves present, the ability to meet and interact with the candidate, or with a volunteer they can trust to represent the candidate.

    Additionally, people change their minds all the time, for all different sorts of reasons, about all manner of things, and very often at the last moment.

    That’s also why some news reporters look for juicy little tidbits, some fetid little chestnut they can serve up just around election day. They hope to influence the outcome of campaigns. They yearn to become newsmakers themselves, feeling restrained by their role as mere reporters. I suppose it is invigorating for a voyeur to become a participant.

    Yet in my experience, their influence, especially today, is even less effective than those present at election locations on hot afternoons. Volunteers mostly. Asking people to consider their candidate of choice. You have to respect such dedication and most voters do.



    I’m not sure I agree that the vast majority of voters change their mind at the last minute, especially as they approach the polls to vote in early voting. There is no scientific studies indicating that assertion.

    Also, there is no proof that any one report in one media outlet changes anything. What people read and see comes from very diverse sources and it includes Facebook and other social media. Some of these political advertising mailings reached more voters than any one media outlet.

    In a 2014 study on early voting, professors findings mirrored other research: “The voters who take advantage of early voting are disproportionately high-participation types — politically engaged and older voters who are considered relatively impervious to campaign influences.”

    That is generally the case in local election early voting to date.

    I would also argue that having numerous folks at the polls countering each others argument with flyers and direct approaches can’t work. It’s like being forced to make your way past insurance salesmen from different companies.

  3. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Even that isn’t as bad as the political advertising mailings which arrive only after early voting is underway! I got one or two first-time mail pieces from candidates only after I had already voted for them (based on research I did independently).
    Based on my own independent research, I recommend the following picks on August 30th:

    US Senator: Alan Grayson
    US Congress: Tim Canova
    State Attorney: Teresa Elizabeth Williams
    Clerk of Circuit Court: Elizabeth Ann McHugh
    Sheriff: Scott Israel
    Supervisor of Elections: David Brown
    County Commissioner: Nan Rich
    Circuit Judge 9 – Lea P. Krauss
    Circuit Judge 15 – Brian Frederick Greenwald
    Circuit Judge 23 – David A. Salomon
    Circuit Judge 24 – Michael Lynch
    County Judge 2 – Phyllis Pritcher
    County Judge 3 – W. Dale Miller
    County Judge 7 – Ian Richards
    County Judge 8 – Kathleen McCarthy
    County Judge 13 – Elizabeth “Betsy” Benson
    County Judge 14 – Bradford A. Peterson
    County Judge 21 – Deborah Carpenter-Toye
    School Board 5 – Nathalie Lynch-Walsh
    School Board – Robin Bartleman
    Solar Energy Amendment – YES!!!

  4. s only says:

    Who is that person “Ha Ha Ha” and why should anyone take his/her recommendations??


    Good point.

  5. Richard J Kaplan says:

    If a ballot is long then those at the bottom of the ballot could get some benefit.

    You often see that voters choose not to vote in certain races that are towards the bottom of the ballot. Usually because they don’t care or don’t know. These typically are city elections.

    If you have a voter that falls into this situation them maybe working early voting locations could influence a close race.

    However I agree that I don’t believe it works in federal, state, school, or county wide or county commission elections. They would be better off walking door to door with their campaigners.

    Still, does a candidate want to take that chance?


    Much research indicates that candidates going door-to-door is effective.

  6. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Based on my own independent research, I recommend the following picks on August 30th:

    Deez Nuts.

  7. John Lundin says:

    Handing out palm cards at early voting sites is a very efficient way to get voters to vote for specific candidates. Many voters are unfamiliar with down ballot candidates, especially during early voting and election day for presidential general elections. Handing out a palm card with a presidential candidate followed by all the down ballot candidates for that political party is effective.


    Where is the research that proves that?

    There were 70,561 voters who mailed in their ballot as of today, August 29.

    There were 43,166 voters who cast votes at 20 early voting locations.

    So it appears that it would be much better use of campaign money on big races to put an effort into reaching those voting by mail.

    Let’s look closer at the figures:

    The Southwest Regional Library in Pembroke Pines was the most popular early voting location with 3,518 votes cast over eight days. That is roughly 440 voters-per-day. How many of those voters do you really believe the campaign outside the polling place influenced? If the campaigning convinced every voter to support your candidate, would it change the result of the county sheriff’s race? The Wasserman Schultz versus Canova congressional campaign? A countywide judicial race?

    And two early voting locations had less than 100 people vote per day!

    One more vital question for Broward County concerning palm cards:

    Which palm card? At least a dozen palm cards were being handed out at early voting locations. Often these cards recommended different candidates. I believe that the number of combating palm cards dilutes their effectiveness.

    The Broward Sheriff Scott Israel’s campaign made a tremendous effort, fueled by BSO employees and other supporters, to counter the so-called Blue Card distributed by consultant Dan Lewis which endorsed one of Israel’s own opponents. I’m told that Israel supporters, including hulking BSO deputies out of uniform, confronted voters. These Israel supporters tried to convince voters to back Israel.

    I would argue such campaigning is a waste of time for the Israel campaign.

    Again, read the math above.

    Out of 3,518 voters casting ballots at the Southwest Broward early voting location, some of them obviously already supported Israel before they arrived at the polls. If the barrage of advertising that Israel mailed to voters works,the majority already supported Israel. Either that, or mail advertising is a waste of money. So the campaign at that location is trying to reach roughly 225 voters-a-day who might have been undecided. I emphasize the word might.

    It is heartening that people care so much about who is elected that they volunteer to stand in the August heat to campaign outside early voting locations. I applaud their civic involvement. But their work is not going to make much of a difference in most races.

    (Many campaigns hire folks to work early voting locations. Unless you have state Senate candidate Gary Farmer and Jim Waldman money, that is probably note a good use of a candidate’s money. )

  8. Lol says:

    Car full of palm cards…Dan Lewis? Let me guess working early voting polls fails but hiring Dan to do your campaign work and then by happenstance you end up on his blue card is a sure thing?

  9. Another example says:

    Coral Ridge Mall

    One of the top performers for Early Voting year in and year out. 100% useless for candidates and surrogates. Candidates and surrogates are restricted to a rarely used parking lot by Home Goods on the north end of the property. The problem is the mall has at least 8 entrances. A voter could easily enter through Target, at the south end of the property, walk through the mall, vote and leave through Target never seeing a candidate or surrogate.

    You mentioned Pines, go down there and see how many people enter the library going through the side grassy area to avoid the crush of surrogates and candidates.

    The only people who truly benefit from early voting, I mean this sincerely, are the members of the black community who are paid by the campaigns to work for the week.

  10. disgruntled says:

    my guess is the ha ha ha person is or was a member of the public defenders office, most choices are from way out in left field, not that there is any problem with that.

  11. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @4 – I’m a very high-information voter who has already put a great deal of effort into researching all the candidates & issues. You should care because 1) you’re almost certainly unable to put anywhere near as much effort into candidate research, and 2) my recommendations are a quick and easy way to check the quality of your own choices. Just look at where your picks differ from mine, then put more effort into researching the non-matching candidates, and you’ll soon find out that your initial pick really wasn’t the best choice.

  12. jimmy ray hart says:

    Gary Farmer….don’t know your politics but you’re fat and that’s ok Wearing your pants at chest level looks stupid

  13. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    80% of the time elected officials vote in accord with their contributors’ wishes.
    New York City Csmpaign filings
    Miami Beach City Campaign filings
    Fort Lauderdale City Campaign filings
    Any other “research” outside campaign reports is a fool’s error.

  14. Blowhard says:

    Public defender or not they’ve revealed fhemselves to be a blowhard of the highest caliber (it’s probably Howard himself). For that you should reject their slate. The last thing we need is more self-serving politicians who don’t care about you.

  15. Real Deal says:

    @13 — Two thoughts. First, what you say if true forms a good argument for publicly financed campaigns and second, it occurs to me that possibly 80% of what government does earns the approval of the people. It’s that other 20% that gets us in trouble. Just a thought.