There is a difference. Terrorists try to publicize their murders in prominent places where violence doesn't usually occur, where people are used to thinking it is safe, because the strategy is to terrorize people.
In American cities, much violence happens in the inner city, is usually a fallout from Democrat management of most big cities. But people know those areas and the danger they pose and thus avoid them.
I can only imagine the goal to affect the election is the same they might effectively use in Arabic countries where tyranny is the rule -- scare voters into not showing up or from voting the wrong way. Naturally, it doesn't work that way in democracies, but rather backfires.
China learned that when they sent missiles over Taiwan's way before the re-election of Lee Teng-Hui in 1996. It worked only to anger citizens, not scare them, and pushed Lee's popularity by 5% in polls so that he got a majority instead of a plurality.