Over six million registered voters in Florida have already cast their ballot as of Monday morning. This means statewide 57% of the likely total voter turnout has already been cast. In Leon County 50% of the vote is already in at the Supervisor of Elections’ Office.
The numbers are interesting and a projection of what is will be made in this short column. Republicans are turning out at a higher rate than Democrats in early voting. Democratic voters have turned out many more absentee ballots than Republicans. Normally the exact reverse occurs but the current President has raised issues about absentee voting. This has lowered Republican vote by mail while increasing Republican early voting in person.
Four years ago, when Trump carried Florida, 6.6 million voters cast ballots before the election day. That number will be passed today, eight days before the election.
Among those voting before election day in 2016 just 96,450 more Democratic voters cast ballots than Republican. As of today, and this number could change, 354,654 more Democrats have voted than Republicans.
Another number to watch is how many more Republicans voted than persons registered with minor parties and non-partisan. In 2016 Republicans cast 1,089,532 more votes than the NPA voters. This year, as of today, the number is 937,748. Republicans are likely to meet the 2016 margin this year but there are a lot of independents voting this cycle.
Three recent Florida polls indicate that there is a very high degree of party loyalty to their respective candidates among Republican and Democratic voters. The defection rates for both parties are very low. Independents (the NPAs) are splitting in favor of Biden over Trump. Even conservative pollsters confirm this trend.
With that in mind, among absentee and early voters it is likely, among the 6 million votes cast, that Biden has a net lead of 499,591 votes or 54% of all the ballots cast thus far. Most Florida polling suggests the percentage Biden is getting among those who already voted is between 58% and 61%.
Early voters in Pennsylvania are giving Biden 87%, in Michigan the number is 75% Biden, and in Wisconsin pollsters are saying Biden is getting 73%.
If this 54% Biden number is sustained (it neither grows nor shrinks) and if 70% of the votes are cast before election day the question becomes will Trump’s advantage among election day voters be enough to carry the day for him.
If the two conditions above are met – the Biden lead of 54% and 70% turnout before election day – then Trump would need to get 58% of the on-day election voters to carry Florida. Newsweek estimates nationwide that Trump will get 63% among those casting ballots on election day. That would be enough for Trump to carry Florida.
If the pollsters are correct and the estimate of 54% Biden is too low then Trump, even with 63% of those voting in-person on election day, loses.
A lot of ifs and it appears there will be no October surprise this year. With so many votes already in an October surprise would likely be a dud. The FBI Director did his October surprise against Hillary Clinton eleven days before the election. That was plenty of time to swing critical voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Now the impact of something like that will be minimal as there is only just over seven days to go.
Jon M. Ausman is the longest serving member of the Democratic National Committee in Florida’s history (December 1992 to January 2017). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-321-7799.