Republicans, Democrats turn out equally on Florida’s first day of voting
Washington: Roughly the same number of registered Democrats and Republicans voted on the first day of early voting in Florida on Monday, according to statewide turnout numbers published on Tuesday, bucking the trend so far in other battlegrounds where Democrats have logged a sizeable early-voting advantage.
About 366,436 people voted in person across the state, exceeding the vote count four years ago, when about 290,000 cast ballots on the first day of in-person voting, according to the Florida Department of State. Of the total, 153,743 were registered Republicans, 154,004 were Democrats and 58,689 were minor-party or unaffiliated.
Biden Harris campaign signs are displayed outside an early voting polling location for the 2020 Presidential election in Miami, Florida.Credit:Bloomberg
As in other states, Democrats retain a distinct advantage among the 2.7 million Floridians who have mailed in their ballots so far; the breakdown among those voters is 49 per cent Democratic and 30 per cent Republican, according to the state figures.
In 18 states across the nation that track partisan affiliation, Democrats have outvoted Republicans by a more than 2-to-1 margin, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida. In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Democrats have outvoted Republicans 4 to 1.
The data does not reflect actual vote choices, which will not be counted until Election Day.
Still, Democrats have celebrated their enthusiasm as evidence of a surge of interest across the country to defeat President Donald Trump. Republicans, however, say the Democratic advantage will disappear on Election Day, when they expect the bulk of their supporters to turn out.
Polls show that a majority of Republicans plan to vote on Election Day, in part because of mistrust of postal voting fuelled by Trump's baseless claims that it invites widespread fraud. Democratic strategists agree that the enthusiasm gap will narrow on Election Day, but they are hoping to bank an insurmountable advantage before then among early voters.
Voters wearing protective masks stand in line to cast ballots at an early voting polling location in Miami, Florida.Credit:Bloomberg
It is too early to know what the in-person advantage for Republicans in Florida means in a state that Trump won in 2016 by fewer than 120,000 votes. In several counties that voted for Trump four years ago – including Pinellas, which includes Clearwater and St. Petersburg; Duval, home of Jacksonville; and Seminole, a suburb of Orlando – more Democrats turned out to vote on Monday.
"Trump all the way," said Melinda McGehee, 53, as she stood next to her friend and fellow Republican voter Alexandra Connor, 51, in Fort Lauderdale.
"Because being in health care, I think it's super important everyone gets what Trump's trying to do with health care. I'm super scared if Biden wins what's going to happen to my career, my parents, my family and my friends with health care."
Kyle Woodard, a 44-year-old schoolteacher from Pompano Beach, said "it's just a really important year to vote," after casting his ballot Monday for Democrat Joe Biden at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Centre in Fort Lauderdale.
"I'm really inspired based on what's going on in the country," Woodard said. "So the first chance I got, I was going to take it."
Woodard said Trump's constant attacks on postal voting are a blatant attempt at voter suppression. "Being black, I've seen a lot of suppression my whole life," he said. "This is nothing new."
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