As President Obama campaigns in Florida today on the heels of his debate victory last night, Florida Democrats made history — surpassing the one million ballot request mark for the first time ever this week. While Republicans have traditionally out-performed Democrats in absentee voting, FL Dems have dramatically cut the GOP’s share of early voting requests and returns — requesting and returning more ballots than in 2008 when Obama carried the state, and entering the final weeks of the campaign in a strong position to execute one of the largest, strongest field programs FL has ever seen.
Florida Democrats will celebrate a campaign milestone today: getting their one-millionth voter to request a mail ballot for the first time.
That’s a threshold Republicans crossed in 2008. Still, it’s already 160,000 more than Democrats requested four years ago and a bigger gain than Republicans expected. (Read more on that here.)
Throwing some water on the Democrats’ mark: Figures from the Romney campaign show 218,000 of the Democrats’ gains in requests are from voters who previously cast a ballot at polling places that opened before Election Day, an implication that the Republican lead in early voting is wider than numbers suggest. Democrats insist they’ve made up ground with sporadic voters, but we’ve yet to see those numbers.
What matter most so far are absentee returns. Among the 755,300 ballots that have been returned to county election supervisors through Sunday, about 40 percent are from registered Democrats and 45 percent from Republicans. Four years ago, there was a total of 1.9 million absentee ballots cast: 47 percent from Republicans, 36 percent from Democrats.
Romney’s camp says Democrats had a 7 percentage point lead among all early ballots cast heading into Election Day in 2008. Right now, five days before early voting polls open on Oct. 27, it’s a 5 point advantage for Republicans. If Romney’s team can maintain that edge after a week of early voting, as they say they can, it will be their turn to celebrate.