In this roller coaster year, nobody knows what will happen next. After the Democratic convention, it looked like it was “Game Over” for Donald Trump, but he came roaring back. Then, there was the debate, which seems to be helping Hillary Clinton again. The polls say there’s still a long time to the election, but it depends on how early voting goes.


Voting opened on Monday in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, making the town’s voters among the first in the nation to do so. So far, voting is limited to a smattering of counties and municipalities in states that allow local governments to set their own schedules. On Friday, however, voters statewide in South Dakota and Minnesota will be allowed to cast early ballots. And other states are joining soon: New Jersey starts early voting on Saturday, and Vermont plans to start early voting as soon as the ballots are ready. (State rules say no later than Saturday.)

In total, 37 states and the District of Columbia will allow early voting in 2016. Some of those states allow voters to request mail ballots and send them in, while others open physical polling places weeks or even months before the election. In the 2012 presidential election, approximately 30 percent of the votes cast came via mail or early balloting, meaning many voters will weigh in before the candidates have had a chance to make their closing case.

Typically, Democrats lead in early voting, especially in-person early voting, because their voters are not as likely to go out to the polls as Republicans, said Michael McDonald, an election expert and associate professor at the University of Florida. The GOP, however, tends to make up ground through mail in absentee ballots, McDonald said.

Here’s a rundown of early voting in at least part of these states:

Sept. 9—North Carolina
Sept. 19—Wisconsin
Sept. 23—Idaho, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming
Oct. 10—California, Minnesota
Sept. 24—New Jersey
Sept. 29—Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota
Oct. 3—Nebraska
Oct. 9—Maine
Oct. 11—Montana, New Mexico
Oct. 12—Arizona, Indiana, Ohio
Oct. 17—Georgia
Oct. 19 Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Oct. 21—Washington
Oct. 22—DC, Nevada
Oct. 24—Alaska , Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Texas
Oct. 25—Hawaii, Louisiana, Utah
Oct. 26—West Virginia
Oct. 27—Maryland
Oct. 29—Florida
Nov. 3—Oklahoma

No early voting, except with excuse—Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia

Aside from the convention and debates, there’s another determinant: newspaper endorsements. A lot of people used to look at the paper, read the endorsement editorial, and then decide whether they agreed with their paper or not. Most people figured the editorial board is made up of smart people, and since they’re local, the know what candidates will help “us.”

That’s usually. This year, the endorsements may not have as much influence, since Donald Trump supporters are so anti-establishment. Some Trump supporters say that a newspaper endorsement for Hillary makes them more likely to vote for Trump. But the problem is that he already has those people. Independents may be swayed by the endorsements.

Another thing that’s unusual about this year is that so many conservative papers are endorsing a Democrat for the first time ever—breaking a streak of more than a century. Most even endorsed Barry Goldwater in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson benefited from sympathy about the assassination of JFK.

Trump has only one daily paper endorsement—in California, where it won’t help. And that news is coming from the biggest Trump booster around, Breitbart.

The southern California newspaper vandalized for using the term “illegals” in its reporting is the only known paper in the Golden State backing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for president.

The Santa Barbara News-Press endorsed Trump shortly before California’s June 7 primary election. Trump was the only Republican remaining in the race at the time.

Politico’s Carla Marinucci pointed to the paper as Trump’s one California newspaper endorsement in a Monday morning briefing on the state this week.

Meanwhile, Libertarian Nominee Gary Johnson, by contrast, has several endorsements from conservative papers, most recently, the staunchly Republican Detroit News.

Today this newspaper does something it has never done in its 143-year history: endorse someone other than the Republican candidate in a presidential contest.

Since its founding in 1873, The Detroit News has backed a Republican every time it has made a presidential endorsement (three times we have sat on the sidelines — twice during the Franklin Roosevelt elections and in the 2004 Bush/Kerry contest).

We abandon that long and estimable tradition this year for one reason: Donald J. Trump.

The Detroit News is not alone.

The Libertarian presidential ticket. . .earned its third robust newspaper endorsement: New Hampshire’s Union Leader.

“Electing a third party President might be just the ticket to snapping a squabbling Congress out of its partisanship,” wrote the newspaper’s publisher, Joe McQuaid, in an editorial that — as usual — will appear on the front page. “Both Republicans and Democrats would be independent of the White House, and freer to debate issues apart from tribal loyalties. Restoration of these checks and balances might be the most promising benefit of a [Gary] Johnson presidency.”

The Union Leader has endorsed Republicans for president — and only Republicans — since it was created in 1913 as a merger between two competing Manchester newspapers. But as McQuaid noted, two other Republican-leaning newspapers have endorsed the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld ticket after some throat-clearing about the demerits of the major parties. The Richmond Times-Dispatch went first, arguing that Johnson deserved a place on the debate stage after acing an editorial board interview.

“We found him to be knowledgeable but unscripted, reasonable and good-humored, self-assured but free from arrogance, willing and able to address every question, consistent in his beliefs without being dogmatic, even-tempered, curious — and in all respects optimistically, realistically presidential,” said the paper’s editors.

Then, there was the Winston-Salem Journal, in North Carolina, according to the Washington Examiner.

The Winston-Salem Journal is the latest conservative-leaning newspaper to back Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson over Republican Donald Trump.

The 115-year-old North Carolina paper’s editorial board wrote Sunday that they surprised even themselves by endorsing Johnson, who has struggled to gain traction in the presidential race. . .

Its decision comes on the heels of an announcement by the Richmond Times Dispatch that it would endorse Johnson, although that paper has backed the Republican nominee for the past nine presidential elections.

Newsmax notes that Hillary has garnered many endorsements—including first-time-ever endorsements of a Democrat by historically Republican papers.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has the endorsements of the New York Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, The Berkshire Eagle, and even The Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle, which almost always support the GOP.

During the primaries, Trump won the support of the New York Observer, which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns, and the New York Post, which in April expected that Trump would “pivot” after winning the nomination.

“Should he win the nomination, we expect Trump to pivot — not just on the issues, but in his manner,” the Post editorial board wrote. “The post-pivot Trump needs to be more presidential: better informed on policy, more self-disciplined and less thin-skinned.”

As of Thursday, you can add the Arizona Republic.

Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.

This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

Will it matter that “establishment” newspapers endorse Hillary over Trump? Even Republican papers? It remains to be seen, but it’s another way that early voting can be influenced.

Oh, wait. One other “newspaper” endorsed Trump: The National Enquirer.

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