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How has Virginia's early voting change impacted campaigns and fundraising?

FILE - "I Voted" stickers are displayed at a polling place.
Thomas Peipert
FILE - "I Voted" stickers are displayed at a polling place.

Early voting starts this week, although campaign spending is just now starting to ramp up.

Voting starts Friday, so many people will have already voted when television commercials are airing and direct mail is arriving.

J. Miles Coleman at the University of Virginia says he'll be watching to see how campaigns are planning to spend this voting season.

"Republicans have a pretty good advantage over the Democrats in terms of ad time they've booked on television," Coleman says. "So, do the Democrats sort of invest more in their ground game, for instance? So, that's a dynamic I'd be looking for."

Virginia has 45 days of early voting; that’s the longest in the country. It’s also a recent development; one that has not seemed to change much of how campaigns operate, says Alex Keena at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"It's weird how this development over the past couple of years since the pandemic and the expansion of early voting has really changed the game," says Keena. "But, campaigning has not really changed all that much, and I think that has to do with people who actually run campaigns, advisors; there's a certain conventional wisdom that it's hard to change people's mindsets."

All 140 seats in the General Assembly are on the ballot, but only a handful of key toss-up races are likely to determine which party wins control — four toss-up races in the House and two in the Senate.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.