The Columbus Dispatch reports that there’s a good chance that more primary voters voted early in Cuyahoga and Franklin counties that will actually vote today.

We know that the Brunner campaign made a strategic decision to bank as many early votes as possible before there was movement in the polls.

I’ve been told by numerous sources, and can find little evidence to the contrary, that Fisher has not done much to promote or track early voters by his supporters beyond a text message to vote early and a few mentions in e-mails on the website(which I got yesterday.  However, since I voted on the first day of early voting, I wasn’t tracked by either campaign.)  I’ve all but begged someone supporting Fisher to provide me evidence of a GOTV operation for Fisher.  And the best I’ve heard was that he has a robocall with the Governor go out last week.

Maybe that’s all it will take.

Regardless, since the early votes are the first to be reported, we’ll know shortly after 7:30 p.m. which Senate candidate got the most votes.  And if these predictions that the early vote may be the majority of the ballots are true, it could be a very short night in the Democratic Senate primary.

But not for the reasons people had been expecting…

I’m hearing alot of reports of incredibly low turnout.  The question is which candidate does that help the most?  There are two schools of thought.

The first is that it helps Fisher because he’s sitting on a nearly 20-point lead and Brunner needed the undecided to overwhelmingly break her way to erase that lead.  If the undecideds decide not to decide, then Fisher’s large lead holds and actually may go further.

The second thought is that Fisher faces an enthusiasm gap, his support is soft, so a low turnout helps Brunner because she’s likely to be able to turn out her supporters more effectively than Lee’s.  Also, there’s the compounding voter risk, some voters who say in the polls they’re supporting Lee say they’re highly susceptible to changing their vote today.  If they do, or because they believe that Fisher has it in the bag, so why not just vote for Brunner anyways…well.

I think the Early Vote numbers are going to be dominant tea leaves.  The problem for Fisher is that he did not have a substantial lead when most of these early votes were cast.  If his campaign did not make a concerted effort to bank as many early votes as possible, like Brunner did, I would expect to see an early vote total (when the media reports numbers with 0% precincts reporting, that shows Brunner doing better than the polling suggested even a few weeks ago.

If the Dispatch is right, and the Early Vote totals actually show Brunner sizeably ahead, it could be the ballgame.

So guess what I’m watching between 7:30 and 8 p.m. before we go live at 10 p.m., tonight? 

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