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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

More than 300,000 Floridians have voted and the numbers look good for Hillary Clinton

14

October

We still have more than three weeks to go in this crazy presidential election, but the election is well underway in America's biggest battleground state. More than 310,000 Floridians already had voted as of Friday and the early numbers spell good news for Hillary Clinton.

While registered Republicans have cast about 5,300 more mail ballots than registered Democrats, the GOP advantage at this point four years ago was closer to 8,000.

"It's early, but four years ago there was a greater share of absentee ballots being returned by Republicans than Democrats," said Daniel Smith, University of Florida Research Foundation Professor of Political Science Science, who noted the trend on his excellent blog.

No, we shouldn't draw sweeping conclusions from the numbers. We don't know how those Floridians voted, of course, and the comparison doesn't take into account how of these early voters were definite voters anyway who joined the growing trend of early, mail voters.

Still, you'd rather be the Democrats than the Republicans looking at these numbers. Floridians have requested a recored 2.5 million mail ballots so far, and the Clinton campaign likes the pool of voters it sees requested ballots.

"What's particularly important is where this increased interest is coming from," said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. "First of all, women in Florida are participating at a higher rate than men -- 22 percent registered women have requested a ballot by mail, compared to 19 percent of men...Hispanic turnout in Florida is particularly high and set to break records. One hundred and eighty thousand registered Hispanic voters in Florida who did not vote in the last midterm election have already requested a mail ballot."

About 55,000 Floridians registered to neither major party also have voted already. UF's Smith suspects those voters may also favor Clinton because most hard-core Trump supporters registered as Republican earlier in the year in order to vote in the primary.

Republicans have long enjoyed a significant advantage when it comes to mail voting, but Democrats have been catching up.

“The most reliable way for us to get new voters into the system is vote by mail. That’s why we’ve been working really hard to build up these numbers,” said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic party, calling vote-rich Miami-Dade their biggest success story.

Last year, Democrats called it a success when they ultimately surpassed Republicans in mail ballot requests by 2,000. As of Friday, more than 140,000 Democrats in Miami-Dade had requested mail ballots (and 540 returned), compared to 113,000 Republicans (311 returned).

[Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2016 5:08pm]

    

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