With just under two weeks left before Election Day, Democrats are far outpacing previous early in-person and vote-by-mail performance compared with the same point in time in 2018, and are currently leading Republicans by just under 22,000 ballots cast. Four years ago at the two week mark, Republicans led in all cast ballots by nearly 55,000 votes.
But if Democrats hope to win big races this year and avoid a similar fate to 2018, they’ll need to keeping pouring on the pressure to extend the lead further than it is now. That’s because over the final two weeks of 2018, Democrats managed to eliminate the Republican advantage to lead by 31,641 ballots going into Election Day, yet Republicans still vastly outperformed Democrats at the voting booth on the final day. Republicans ultimately won four out of five statewide races that year, with the lone loss by fewer than 5,000 votes.
Democrats at the time still relied heavily on early-in-person get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts such as “Souls to the Polls” drives on the Sundays leading up to election day, and typically made up significant ground in the final weekends of the election cycle. Since then, however, a sizeable chunk of Democrat ballots have now shifted toward vote-by-mail efforts, particularly after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic changed voting trends nationwide.
And those shifting trends aren’t entirely due to political party turnout efforts, either. Voters in general have started taking advantage of early voting opportunities, even without direct efforts by Republicans and Democrats. Unaffiliated voters, for example, have embraced the trend as much as either political party. As of this morning, they’d cast a total of 295,617 mail-in and early voting ballots, up nearly 51 percent versus 2018.
So far this cycle, nearly 1.7 million Floridians have cast ballots as of Wednesday morning, data from the state Division of Elections website shows. Registered Democrats have cast 684,397 total ballots, an increase of almost 53 percent over 2018 numbers, while registered Republicans cast 662,419, up 31 percent versus their performance at this stage in 2018.
Independent voters also have a major say in the matter. National polling data shows independents breaking strongly away from Democrats over the economy and other issues, and in-state polling shows Democrats trailing statewide, meaning the final totals could be another solid Republican performance in this cycle.
Third-party registered voters, such as Libertarians and members of the Green Party have so far cast another 23,374 ballots.