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Last-minute campaigning: How much does it matter?

Tuesday is Election Day and candidates are making all the last-minute stops they can. Despite the late campaigning, nearly 1 million early ballots have already been processed in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Tuesday is Election Day and candidates are making all the last-minute stops while campaigning they can. Whether it be at the national, state or local level, voters will see plenty of campaign ads, and maybe even the candidates themselves, throughout the next 24-hours.

Last-minute push

While it’s nothing out of the ordinary, it does beg the question, just how effective is last-minute campaigning this close to the election? Jason Perry, Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, says it typically doesn’t do much to move the needle.
 
“The campaigning towards the last couple of days means less and less as time goes by,” explains Perry. “Particularly in this election cycle, there are just not a lot of people out there that they are going to try to convert in the last [couple] days.”

Already in Utah, nearly 1-million early ballots have been processed. The number in Salt Lake County alone is above 388,000, which is around 65% of all active voters. In Wayne County, more than 1,250 early ballots have been processed, which is nearly three-quarters of all active voters in the county.

That means many of the late campaign advertisements are being consumed by voters who have already cast a ballot. According to Perry, the one exception may be advertisements or rallies centered around the coronavirus pandemic.

Pandemic voters up-for-grabs?

He says some voters are waiting until the last minute on purpose to see which candidate’s plan they prefer, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to change. 

“COVID-19 is a hallmark of every single campaign that we are hearing from in the state of Utah,” he explains. “I think when people are looking at the national races, certainly for members of Congress, but also for the President of the United States, people want a plan.”

Utah has just over 1.6 million active, registered voters and in 2016, about 82% of Utah voters cast a ballot. Registered voters can still drop-off their ballots before Election Day is over or vote in-person Tuesday with a valid ID.