2022 data elections

2020 Pre-Election Day Voting Trends

The Majority Strategies data team looked at 2016 and 2020 vote history and absentee/early vote data across six target states to identify the key trends on how voter behavior changed.

Was there any aspect of our society that COVID-19 didn’t affect?

From health care to education to the economy, COVID-19 changed everyday life for Americans. In a pivotal election year, COVID-19 changed how voters evaluated casting their ballots, too.

Every state faced critical decisions about how to conduct safe elections that did not infringe on voters’ electoral rights. Many switched to all vote-by-mail, while other states sent absentee ballots or applications to all registered voters. Some states opened no-excuse absentee voting to all registered voters for the first time.

All of these changes allowed voters to take advantage of pre-Election Day voting at history rates during the 2020 primary and general elections.

What do those trends mean for 2022 campaigns?

The Majority Strategies data team looked at 2016 and 2020 vote history and absentee/early vote data across six target states to identify the key trends on how voter behavior changed:

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Iowa
  4. Michigan
  5. North Carolina
  6. Ohio

Many states entered the 2020 election cycle with existing robust absentee and early voting used by voters across parties and demographics.

In the 2016 general election, 3 of the 6 target states saw over half of all ballots cast before Election Day.

In 2020, all 6 states saw a significant number of voters shift to casting an absentee or early ballot.

On average, there was a 21% decline in Election Day voting with 9.5 million more absentee/early votes cast in 2020 in these six states than 2016.

Ohio saw just 44.8% of voters casting their ballot on Election Day compared to 69.3% in 2016 – a 24.6% drop in Election Day voting.

An important note is when these pre-Election Day ballots were cast. These 6 states saw an average +13% increase in the number of ballots cast prior to 2 weeks out from Election Day and a -9.5% decrease in the number of absentee/early vote ballots cast in the final 7 days of the election.

Knowing when voters are casting ballots has a huge impact on your voter contact mail and digital plans. Hundreds of millions of political ad dollars are spent in the final weeks and days of an election, but many of these voters have already cast their ballot. Are you talking to voters at the right time? Are your voter contact plans built around early and absentee voting? Don’t waste your campaign dollars on those who have already cast their ballot.

Of all absentee ballots/early votes cast in the 2020 general, all 6 states had over 1/3rd of these cast at least 2 weeks prior to election day.

Want to learn about who was taking advantage of pre-Election Day voting? The Majority Strategies data team breaks down the demographic and political attributes of those who voted on Election Day and those who voted absentee or early in person in the 2020 general election. Contact the team today for the full report.

As we rapidly approach the 2022 midterm election, GOP campaigns and allies need to take important steps now to prepare for absentee and early voting trends.

STEP 1: Analyze the voting habits of your electorate.
You have to understand what happened in your district in 2020 in terms of voting habits.

STEP 2: Identify the right audience for absentee/early voting contact efforts.
We anticipate pre-Election Day voting to go down from the 70% average of total ballots cast in the 2020 general election across our six target states, but we believe it will remain higher than 2016/2018. Campaigns need to split audiences, identify traditional absentee/early voters vs. 2020 pandemic absentee/early voters, and adjust voter contact plans accordingly.

STEP 3: Move up your voter contact schedule.
You can’t wait. Between 33% and 55% of your voters may have already cast their ballot by the final two weeks of the election. You need to reach absentee and early voters on their timetable.

There’s more. Contact the strategists at Majority Strategies today for the full report on 2020 pre-Election Day voting trends, including a breakdown of who was taking advantage of pre-Election Day voting, and the team’s key takeaways for 2022 campaigns.

Majority Strategies is a full-service data, digital and print firm with over 125 years of collective experience solving problems and influencing public opinion and behavior to create a desired action and outcome.

Read more before you go:

The Shifting Electorate: Building relationships with new and potential voters.

2022 Candidates: Ask yourself these questions as you decide whether to run for office.

Winning Against the Odds: A primary victory despite being significantly outspent.