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Tale of the turnout: Nearly 3.5 million votes are in with six days to go

Democrats continue to chip away at Republicans' overall lead in early balloting.
An early voting site in Wilton Manors [STEVE BOUSQUET - Times]
An early voting site in Wilton Manors [STEVE BOUSQUET - Times]
Published Oct. 31, 2018
Updated Oct. 31, 2018

Six days to go and Florida's voter turnout looks like this:

Republicans still have a total ballot advantage over Democrats. It's shrinking slightly and is now slightly less than 2 percentage points.

Florida is on track for a record-high turnout of total voters for a midterm election. The pace of early voting is intensifying and is much higher than four years ago. No blue wave, but millions still haven't voted.

Through Tuesday, more than 3.4 million people had voted, for a turnout of 25.7 percent.

Republicans account for 41.9 percent of ballots cast and Democrats account for 40.1 percent. Because there are more Democrats than Republicans in the state (37 percent D and 35 percent R), it shows that Republicans continue to outperform Democrats in this election, but not by much — and by a lot less than the last midterm in 2014 (R+7).

Independents now account for 18 percent of all early and mail voters. Their voices were silenced during the closed primaries, and their votes now loom large in this highly polarized election.

The picture of the early electorate is still very strongly white and older, as analyzed by University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith. That favors Republicans. But the increasing diversity of the electorate favors Democrats (EIP stands for early in-person and VBM stands for vote by mail).

Smith's breakdown of early and mail voters by age shows that the youngest voters are least likely to vote, so far anyway. That's even with the first-of-their-kind campus early voting sites in Gainesville, Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando and South Florida.

The day-by-day early voting totals in Broward, the state's most heavily-Democratic county, continue to rise.

On Tuesday, for the first time this cycle, more than 20,000 people voted early in Broward, where a midterm election is drawing the most interest since the days of Lawton Chiles, Florida's last Democratic governor.

Here's an apt snapshot for the 2018 election in Florida.

The largest county with the closest two-party competition is Pinellas, with 238,000 Democrats, 235,000 Republicans and 194,000 independents. It's about as purple as you can get, and as of Tuesday morning, more than 30 percent had already voted, a sign of high energy in both parties.

Which side is casting more ballots in Pinellas? Through Tuesday's count, Republicans led Democrats by 1,743, out of 200,000-plus ballots.

The turnout in Pinellas as of 8 a.m. on Oct. 31.
The turnout in Pinellas as of 8 a.m. on Oct. 31.