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Starting Gate: Campaign Fatigue Cure

If you're still looking for just that right costume for the Halloween party tonight, you might want to consider going as the economy or maybe a 401k plan or upside-down home mortgage.

Or maybe, among select company, go as one of the presidential candidate. People seem to find plenty to be frightened of there (in the newest CBS News/New York Times poll, 57 percent of likely John McCain voters said the thought of Barack Obama being elected "scared" them – 47 percent of Obama supporters said the same of McCain).

No doubt you'll see a lot of Obama and Sarah Palin lookalikes out on the trick or treat circuit tonight but it's a pretty good bet that most voters are ready for this never-ending election to finally come to a conclusion. The campaigns can't afford to let up now – in fact they're in the midst of their final blitzes, revving their get-out-the-vote machines to full throttle and blitzing the battleground states with visits.

If you're living in a safe state for one candidate or the other, then you're relatively sheltered. Sure, you get the election blitz by turning on the news and you might be in the midst of down-ballot or local issue elections that can be just as intense as a presidential campaign. But if you're in a battleground state like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia or Florida, there's virtually no place to hide.

Campaign ads flood every channel at every hour of the day (in Virginia, Obama's 30-minute ad was preceded by so many 30-second commercials that it was hard to recognize the big one when it finally began). With all the robocalls, door-to-door canvassing, signs popping up on every spare piece of ground along the roadways, mailings and pollsters on the phone, it's virtually impossible to escape.

But voters can ignore it all and in growing numbers, they've figured out how to do just that – by voting early. Seventeen percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots, according to the CBS poll, either through early voting where that option exists or by absentee ballot.

And early voting has proven wildly popular in many of the states where it's offered and almost a third of all votes could be in before Tuesday. In Georgia, 1.4 million voters have already cast ballots, according to an Associated Press survey of early voting. Some 2.6 million have already cast their ballots in Florida (a state where voting early is an ingrained part of the process) and 1.6 million have voted in North Carolina. Democrats have turned out in much larger numbers in the seven battleground states examined by the AP (Georgia does not track votes by party ID but does by race and black voters have made up 35 percent of the vote there).

For a growing number of people in an expanding list of states, voting isn't just for Election Day anymore.

Around The Track

  • McCain's campaign will unleash a barrage of television ads in battleground states over the closing days of the campaign, the Washington Post reports, but some Republicans fear it comes at the expense of boots on the ground.
  • While Barack Obama has raised an astonishing $640 million this campaign, he isn't a big spender on things like staff salaries and consultants, the New York Times finds.
  • "The best-kept secret in Washington is that Barack Obama has the largest and most disciplined presidential transition team anyone can recall," the Financial Times reports

  • "I think people are increasingly worried of the liberal left controlling the House and the Senate and the presidency. And I think they're beginning to get it that Sen. Obama means worse economic conditions." – John McCain in an interview with the USA Today.
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