Early voting dictates a new Clinton campaign structure

In Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, states with major opportunities for early voting—such as North Carolina and Colorado—are in their own pod, while the remaining states are divided into two. One pod has large, diverse states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, where mobilizing minorities and young whites will be essential to her victory. The other pod contains smaller, mostly white ones like Iowa and New Hampshire, which present fewer opportunities to identify and turn out new voters but a major need for persuasion.

The reorganization reflects the fact that the calendar, rather than the map, has been growing ever more important. More than one-quarter of Americans who voted in 2012 did so in ways other than visiting a polling place on Election Day, according to data compiled by University of Florida political scientist Michael P. McDonald.

The share of early voters was significantly higher in several key battlegrounds. In Nevada, for example, nearly twice as many 2012 voters cast ballots at in-person early-vote locations than on election day itself. (Another 8 percent of the total electorate voted by mail-in absentee ballot.) In Florida and North Carolina, the early-voting and Election Day electorates were split about evenly.

“You have to run a significantly different campaign—in terms of timing, number of appearances, your paid spend,” said David Plouffe, manager of Obama’s 2008 campaign and an informal adviser to Clinton’s. “For many people in the campaign that are in early-vote states you don’t care about Election Day.”