TALLAHASSEE — Election Day already is over for thousands of Floridians.
The first 3,000 mail ballots cast are just a fraction of the eventual turnout, but represent the changing landscape of elections in Florida. County supervisors are mailing ballots earlier than ever and races are being won or lost before the polls open.
No longer can campaigns crescendo on Election Day. Instead, political strategists say, candidates must peak at least 15 days ahead, when early voting begins, and find a way to maintain the momentum while sustaining the additional costs of the final stretch.
“Candidates used to be able to gain their financial footing three weeks before an election. But those days are over,” said Republican operative Roger Stone, who has worked on campaigns in more than a dozen states, including Florida.
“If you aren’t fully engaged in terms of advertising and messaging by three weeks out, you can still win Election Day,” he said. “But you’ll lose the election.”