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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Republicans maintain advantage as 4 million-plus have voted



It's sooooo close.

Republicans are maintaining their advantage over Democrats in mail ballot returns in Florida as total ballots cast, by mail and early voting, breaks 4 million. Republicans make up 40.4 percent of the total and Democrats 40 percent.

Over the next seven days, mountains of mail ballots will continue to pour into the 67 county elections offices. For the first time, the number of returned mail ballots and early voting ballots passed the 2 million mark overnight.

Republican voters have returned 42.1 percent of mail ballots and Democratic voters 38.6 percent. No party voters have returned 16.7 percent of mail ballots and minor-party voters 2.5 percent.

Democrats can catch Republicans in the ballot chase by making sure more people vote early and by getting more Democrats to return their mail ballots. Of the 1.3 million mail ballots not yet returned, 40.5 percent belong to Democrats and 34.4 percent belong to Republicans. Simply put, so far, Republicans are more likely to send their ballots back than are Democrats.

Democrats appear to have a mail ballot enthusiasm gap in South Florida. Statewide, as of Tuesday morning, nearly 62 percent of all mail ballots were returned, but the return rates are lower in the state's two largest counties, both of them must-win counties for Hillary Clinton. That suggests that a lot of those South Florida voters won't be voting in this election, or they would have returned their ballots by now. The first day that counties began sending mail ballots was Oct. 4, four weeks ago today.

Miami-Dade has returned 54.7 percent of its mail ballots and Broward 48.8 percent.

The state website showing mail and early voting totals, statewide and by county, is here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2016 8:53am]


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