And what about for Latino voters? Couldn't churches mobilize Latinos the same way churches get African-Americans to the polls?
Not so fast, says Louis DeSipio, a University of California, Irvine political science professor.
"More [Latinos] live in noncompetitive states and…neither presidential candidates and neither party is going to invest a great deal in turning out votes in those states," DeSipio said. "But in competitive states, we will see outreach efforts to Latino organizations to spread the word to members. Black churches are a more cohesive set of organizations, and there isn't really an equivalent in Latino communities, and Latino churches are often somewhat more integrated."
That's not to say it couldn't happen, though.
DeSipio points out that the Bush campaign was very successful in mobilizing Hispanics through churches in New Mexico in 2004, "and it sort of tipped New Mexico to Bush, so it was one of the flip states, but there isn't a single sort of resource for doing that."
The Obama campaign organizers are well aware he won swing states such as Florida, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa in large part because of early voting, and the president has added a call to vote early in to his standard campaign speech. Republican challenger Mitt Romney is doing the same in an attempt to reach the growing number of early voters.
Even still, Republican legislatures in Florida and Ohio have tried to limit early voting. The Associated Press notes that John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, would have won all four swing states listed above if election-day votes alone decided the election.
A federal judge tossed out an Ohio law that would have limited early voting and ordered the state to allow all voters the right to cast their ballots in person on the final three days before the election. The New York Times reports that the state Democratic Party and Obama's campaign had sued the state over a law that ended early in-person voting on the Friday before the election to all voters but those serving in the military and living overseas.
The ruling in Ohio is significant. More than 25 percent of Ohio voters cast their ballots early in the 2010 election according to a report by The University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.
According to the study, early voting has become increasingly common in Ohio, and more women than men vote early. Early voters are also likely to have some college education, but not a degree, while election-day voters tend to be college-educated. Only in 2008 did minorities make up a greater portion of the early vote than the Election Day vote, notes McDonald. Non-Hispanic whites typically make up a greater percentage of early voters than Election Day voters.
In Ohio, according to the study, race and ethnicity were not significant factors in early voting. And election-day voters favored Republican candidates while early voters favored Democratic candidates.
"The concern in Florida and Ohio, those laws were narrowly targeted at a specific period, and specific method, that Democrats, African-Americans primarily, use. In the weekend before elections, we tend to see the greatest number of Democrats show up to vote," McDonald said.