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Early Voting Out of Florida is Both Encouraging and Terrifying

By Dustin Rowles | Popular | October 26, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Popular | October 26, 2016 |

Florida is a crucial battleground state, and has been in every presidential election in the modern era. It was the decisive state in 2000, and in this election, Florida is the most likely “tipping point” state. If Clinton wins, Trump has no path to victory. If Trump wins, we may discover that there are actually millions of “secret” Trump voters that come out of the woodwork and give the election to Donald Trump.

Early voting has begun, and while we don’t know which candidate is receiving the most votes, we do know which party the early votes are going to. For Democrats and Hillary Clinton, it’s mostly good news, but not so good that we shouldn’t worry about knocking on doors and heading to the polls ourselves.

After a little more than 2 million early votes (either in person, or by mail) — or approximately 22 percent of the expected overall vote — votes from registered Republicans are leading votes from registered Democrats by 5,730 votes. About 318,000 non-affliated voters have also cast their votes.

That’s close. And for Democrats, that’s scary, especially because we don’t know which way those independent voters are trending. But we also don’t know how many of those Republicans are voting for Hillary or vice versa.

Moreover, requests for mail-in ballots are also up significantly over 2012. 3.1 million main-in ballots have been requested. Again, the numbers slightly favor Republicans: 40 percent to 39 percent.

Are you terrified yet?

Well, here’s the good news: According to Steve Schale — who is following the early numbers closely — compared to both 2008 and 2012, Democrats are “well ahead” of their pace. After the first day this year, the GOP was up 7,000 votes. After the first day of early voting in 2008, the GOP was up 200,000 votes.

Other good news: 44 percent of Hispanics who are registered Democrat or have no party affiliation are voting for either their first or second times ever in a Presidential election, meaning a lot more Hispanic voters this year are turning out in Florida than in past years (Trump is getting creamed among the Hispanic population). Moreover, a larger share of the Democratic voters come from “unlikely voters,” meaning Trump is helping to turn out more of the “unlikely voter” crowd among Democrats than Republicans.

Here are a few more bright spots:

Most pundits are looking at these early numbers and reading into them positive signs for Hillary Clinton. As someone who doesn’t trust “trends” as much as I trust actual numbers, however, they are terrifying.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.