CLEVELAND - In 2004, Bruce Springsteen held an election eve rally for then-Presidential candidate John Kerry on Mall B in Cleveland that lasted into Election Day. It's focus was to energize voters to head to the polls in a few hours. Eight years later, by the time we get to Election Day, more than half of the people will have likely already voted.
With last-minute fever Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama will campaign Wednesday in Ohio and with good reason. Election Day has morphed into the day the candidates learn the outcome of the race, not necessarily the day people actually vote.
"Election Day is not November 6, Election Day starts October 2," said WEWS Political Analyst Tom Sutton. "So you're really looking at a full election month and so you got to keep delivering those messages as people are getting their ballots and starting to vote."
After this week, that becomes more difficult as the debates begin and the number of ballots cast goes up.
At the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, more than 155,000 absentee ballot applications have already been received. That's more than 17 percent of registered voters. Director Jane Platten said they're coming in at the rate of about 10,000 a day.
"We welcome more of those applications to keep coming in," she said. "We want voters to vote by mail, we don't want people to wait in lines on Election Day."
The ballots will be mailed out starting Oct. 2, the first day that people can start voting at their respective Boards of Election. It's also the start of what's called the "golden week," where people can both register to vote and actually vote at the same time, leading up to the Oct. 9 registration deadline.
That's why Sutton sids it's no surprise that President Obama's two stops in the state Wednesday are Kent State and Bowling Green.
"The target on these big state campuses is get all these folks that are coming from other states that live and are students at these big campuses and tell them 'You know where your votes really going to count is here in Ohio' and get them to register to vote here in Ohio," said Sutton.
Student activism is a lot of what helped President Obama as a core constituency four years ago.
"He's been trying to re-energize that constituency," Sutton said.
"With those kinds of appearances and getting the ground game, which he's been very effective at, that grass roots campaign that's been working since the beginning of the semester, that combination he's hoping is going to drive out a lot of new voters that he might not even have had four years ago because this is another crop of students," he said.