TALLAHASSEE — Nearly 9 million Floridians had already cast their votes Monday morning, topped with turnout of more than 75 percent in Republican-rich Sumter and Collier counties.
Statewide, with 62.14 percent of Florida’s 14.44 million registered voters already participating in Tuesday’s elections, registered Democrats had cast about 108,000 more ballots than their Republican counterparts, according to the state Division of Elections.
Candidates and their surrogates were continuing to make final pleas across the state, battling for its important 29 electoral votes, key congressional and legislative seats and local offices and deciding whether to approve six proposed constitutional amendments.
Democrats have maintained that the larger the turnout, the better for their candidates. Steve Schale, Tallahassee-based CEO of the super PAC Unite the Country, which backs Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, said Monday the turnout has been “crazy” high.
“There’s nothing that I look at this data with a huge red flag on,” Schale said. “That doesn’t mean that I’m going to go put $100 on an outcome. I’m never, ever going to be completely confident about the outcome of Florida. But I’m more optimistic than I was a week ago, to be honest.”
Four years ago, 74.5 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots in the general election. The modern record is 83 percent in 1992.
In Leon County, with 59 percent of the 217,454 registered voters already having cast ballots, Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley anticipated that voting on Election Day could be slower than normal.
“We are set up well to have a very successful Election Day,” Earley said. “I think there will be a lot of activity, but I don’t think it will be the percentage of turnout on Election Day that we would normally see. It’ll probably be a little bit lower, just because we have had so much turnout already.”
As of Monday morning, Democrats statewide had cast 3,512,211 ballots, including 663,685 more vote-by-mail ballots than cast by the GOP. Republicans, who had cast 3,404,088 overall ballots, had a 555,562 lead in ballots cast at early voting locations.
Floridians registered without party affiliation had cast 1,933,648 ballots, or 21.5 percent of the total. Nearly 125,000 ballots had been cast by third-party voters.
The totals don’t indicate how people are voting for candidates or the proposed constitutional amendments.
Schale estimated that about 150,000 normally high-turnout Republican voters had yet to vote and 200,000 Democrats who could be relied on to vote in every contest were still on the sidelines.
State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a former Republican Party of Florida chairman from Spring Hill, predicted in a series of tweets Monday that President Donald Trump will win the state by 80,000 to 100,000 votes, with late-voting “super NPAs” — no party affiliation voters — breaking for the president and as “tens of thousands of ‘Super Dem’ voters will have not cast a ballot because they will not have sent their ballot back on time nor voted in person — COVID concerns.”
As of Monday morning, 66.2 percent of the state’s 5.3 million registered Democrats, 65.9 percent of the 5.17 million registered Republicans and 51.5 percent of the 3.75 million unaffiliated voters had cast ballots.
Appearing Saturday on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expects Republicans to win Election Day voting with a bigger margin than in past years.
“We’re closing the overall early voting at a much faster rate than we did in 2016,” DeSantis said. “And then Miami-Dade is important, Sean, because the president lost that by 30 points and still won the state. He’s now in a situation with the turnout we’re seeing, he may be able to cut that margin in half and in a county as big as Miami-Dade, that could be a 100,000-vote swing. And I can tell you, being down there, the Cuban-American community is fired up. The Venezuelan-Americans, all the Hispanics who understand the threat that Marxism poses, they are rallying to Donald Trump.”
Nearly 1.03 million Miami-Dade County residents had voted, or 66 percent of the county’s registered voters. Republicans in the county have cast 308,594 ballots, Democrats 408,032. In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 624,146 votes to 333,999 by Trump.
Polls about the presidential race have kept the state nearly even the past two months.
Real Clear Politics, an aggregator of polls, puts Biden up 1 percentage point in Florida.
The University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Sabato’s Crystal Ball, tilted the state toward Trump.
“If one goes by the polls, Biden should be favored in Florida, albeit only by a little. Yet we have seen the Democrats (and even the polls) come up short in the Sunshine State so often, including in the Democratic wave year of 2018, that we needed unmistakable signs to pick them there this time,” the university’s center posted Monday. “We just don’t see those signs in this complex state with lots of moving parts. Therefore, we’re picking Trump in his adopted home state of Florida.”
The center then added a self-effacing caveat.
“Team Trump, beware of the Crystal Ball’s kiss of death in Florida: We have to admit that our record in Florida is poor,” the center stated. “We have erred in the state four cycles in a row, missing the 2012 and 2016 presidential races and the 2014 gubernatorial and 2018 gubernatorial/Senate races. Such is the peril of trying to divine a state that is so perennially close — all of the aforementioned races were decided by roughly a point each time. If we could’ve come up with an excuse to keep Florida as a Toss-up, we would have.”
Topping the state so far for turnout is Sumter County, with nearly 79 percent of its 105,612 registered voters already casting ballots. Collier County was at 76 percent. St. Johns County was at 71 percent. Martin and Nassau counties were just under 70 percent.
Republicans have a near or more than 2-to-1 advantage in registered voters in all five counties.
At the other end were rural counties: Glades at 40.8 percent, Hardee at 42 percent, Gilchrist at 47 percent and Hamilton and Holmes each at 49 percent.
Among the more populated counties, Lee County was at 67 percent, Broward was at 65 percent, Hillsborough was at 63 percent, Pinellas was at 62 percent, Orange topped 61 percent, Palm Beach was at 60 percent and Duval was approaching 60 percent. Polk County had seen a 53 percent turnout.