GOP has big advantage in Florida ballots already cast

2.5 million more votes expected on Tuesday - Election Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly 4.8 million Floridians had already voted by Sunday night and statistics from the state’s Division of Elections show just over 321,000 more Republicans than Democrats have cast ballots prior to Election Day.

But since election supervisors estimate that at least one-third of all voters wait until Election Day to cast ballots, another 2.5 million votes are expected on Tuesday and there’s a long way to go before anyone is declared a winner.

The GOP is hoping to return Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the office and is looking to increase its representation in the U.S. House, thanks partly to a new congressional map that was drawn to favor Republican candidates.

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DeSantis is facing Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, who served as a GOP governor from 2007-2011 and recently left office as a Democratic congressman. Rubio is facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who was previously Orlando's first female police chief.

Four years ago, when the vote was so close there were recounts for governor, U.S. senator and agriculture commissioner, Democrats had slightly more voters cast ballots before Election Day, nearly 2.2 million compared to more than 2.1 million for Republicans.

This year, Republicans are even leading the early vote in the traditional Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade County. Republicans have cast 6,055 more ballots in Miami-Dade than Democrats either by mail or in early voting. In 2018, Democrats cast nearly 254,000 ballots before Election Day, compared to just more than 180,000 for Republicans.

In Duval County, where President Joe Biden and DeSantis’ challenger Andrew Gillum narrowly earned the most votes in the last two election cycles, Republican voters have a 2,558 vote advantage among the 193,511 ballots cast by Sunday night.

Voters registered with minor parties or no party at all have cast just over 952,000 ballots before Election Day.

Republicans have far outperformed Democrats in registering new voters in recent years. In 2016, Democrats had about 327,000 more registered voters than Republicans. That has since flipped, with the GOP now having a 300,000 advantage over Democrats.

While Democrats have requested more vote-by-mail ballots, Republicans are returning them at a higher rate so far, with about 64% of GOP mail ballots having already been received compared to 58% for Democrats.

Thousands of precincts across Florida will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

About the Authors:

Digital election producer in 2022. He created in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.