Chris Cooper of the Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on pre-election day voting. For example, 3.9 million people in California are receiving ballots early. Many other states also allow voting weeks before the official balloting day.
According to Paul Gronke, “Generally speaking, the typical early voter is likely to be older and more suburban than those who weigh in on election day”. Voters who vote early can’t take back their vote based on the results in Iowa or another early state. The momentum gained from winning Iowa is diminished since so many have already decided. And a candidate like Sam Brownback, banking his candidacy on beating expectations in Iowa, is hurt. The momentum Brownback would hope to carry over into later contests would decrease. The lowered influence of Iowa would then help Rudy Giuliani, who is likely going to rely on the large states voting on February 5th to get the Republican nomination.
To put the numbers in perspective, about 12.5 million people voted in California in 2004. The 3.9 million who have signed up for early voting represent about a third of the 2004 voters. Even if only half of the 3.9 million vote early, 16 percent of California voters will have cast a ballot before the official date.