Florida is leading the nation in pre-election turnout with an all-time record of 6.4 million early ballots cast as of Monday. The state’s Division of Elections reports that Democrats have cast nearly 2.6 million early ballots while Republicans fall about 87,000 short with 2.5 million. No-party and minor party voters have cast another 1.4 million ballots, another record for Florida.
Donald Trump has reason to worry that he might not take the nation’s biggest battleground state in the presidential election. Voters are also already over-performing in the state’s two most populous counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, both of which lean Democratic. Early turnout in Miami-Dade is 55 percent, Broward 52 percent – both above the statewide average. According to the Tampa Bay Times, both of those South Florida counties typically lag behind the rest of the state in voter turnout.
Other counties with long early voting lines and record ballots cast include Orange, Osceola, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Duval, Leon, and Pinellas. Perhaps it’s the contentiousness of the candidates that’s leading to record numbers or other big issues on the ballot like Amendments 2, which will expand Florida’s medical marijuana law, Amendment 1, which will address solar energy, and Amendment 5, which covers property tax exemptions for senior citizens.
Many Florida churches also held voter drives Sunday, boosting turnout. Democratic strategist Steve Schale had this to say on his blog about attending St. Mark AME Church in the Orlando area, for a ‘Souls to the Polls’ service and a nearby early voting site.
“The lines at noon were already quite long, so it came as no surprise that Orange County set a turnout record.” wrote Schale. “Miami Dade had more people vote in one day than 33 counties have had vote in this entire election. The more than 760-thousand people who voted in early voting is equal to almost 88 percent of the entire vote cast in the 2012 election. If Election Day turnout is just half of what it was in 2012, more than 1 million people will vote in Dade.”
While Republicans still have an edge in many communities in Florida – including the strongly conservative Panhandle – Schale says for Trump to win the Sunshine State, he needs more support than former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did in larger markets like Tampa and Orlando. In the meantime, if early voting is any indication, Democrats are casting ballots in record numbers.