According to figures posted Monday on the Florida Division of Elections website, Democrats had an advantage of 108,143 ballots cast in the state over Republicans heading into Election Day. But as to how that will determine who wins the presidential race in the Sunshine State depends on who you speak to.
What You Need To Know
- Democrats are ahead going into Election Day because of an Early Voting lead
- Strategists disagree on the size of the Republican surge on Election Day
- Pinellas County has voted for the winner in 9 out of the last 10 presidential races
Registered Democrats do have a slight lead in turnout (66.2% over 65.8%) going into Election Day.
“Democrats are in a little better place,” says Steve Schale, a Democratic Party strategist who’s aligned with a super PAC backing Joe Biden this year. “Republicans frankly don’t have the same kind of an Election Day advantage of outstanding ballots that they had four years ago.”
Schale predicts that the final turnout will be around 75%-80%.
Blaise Ingoglia, the former Republican Party of Florida Chairman and a state Rep. from Hernando County, says turnout will be around 82%, which, he says augurs well for Donald Trump.
“I think that the ‘Red Wave’, the ‘Red Tsunami’ that we’ve all been hearing about, is going to continue on Election Day,” Ingoglia said. “And I think that we’re going to have so many voters coming out on Election Day it’s going to dwarf that of the Democrats, and we’re going to overtake the lead in raw ballots that they have now.”
That’s the scenario that did play out on Election Day in 2016 in Florida.
Barry Edwards, a political strategist who has worked for both Democrats and Republicans, also believes that there are more Republican “super voters” ready to vote on Election Day – meaning those voters who never take an election off.
“There’s about a quarter million more Republican super voters left to vote than there are Democrats, and that would wash over the narrow advantage gap between Democrats and Republicans thus far,” he said.
Edwards and Ingoglia said that among the counties they will be looking at when the returns begin coming in tomorrow night after 7 p.m. is Miami-Dade County, which Hillary Clinton won by around 290,000 votes in 2016.
“I think Miami-Dade still goes Democrat, but I don’t think it goes anywhere near 300,000,” predicts Ingoglia. “I’m thinking that quite possibly, it might go around 125,000 plus for the Democrats, which would put Republicans in a much, much better position to win statewide.”
Ingoglia and Schale are also looking at Pinellas County, which has now become the bellwether county in the state. Pinellas has voted for the winning presidential candidate in nine out of the last 10 elections since 1976 (the exception being in 2000, when the county opted for Al Gore over George W. Bush).
The vote could turn on the all elusive no-party-affiliated (NPA) voters, which make up more than a quarter of Florida’s entire electorate. Schale says that what is known about them is that they skew slightly younger and are more racially diverse than the rest of the state, and he says he’d be surprised if Biden doesn’t win that vote tomorrow (Donald Trump won the NPA vote in 2016).
Ingoglia agrees that Biden may likely win the NPA vote but thinks it will only be by a few points, believing that there are some “shy Trump” voters who aren’t being captured in public opinion polls.
Over the weekend, there were reports that the Trump campaign may try to prematurely claim victory on election night, when the president may have an advantage in states where the vote-by-mail total will not begin to be counted until after the polls close.
Schale called the notion “absurd,” noting that George W. Bush was able to win Florida and the White House in 2000 because of military and absentee ballots that came in after the election.
“If Biden wins Florida tomorrow night, this thing’s over, regardless of what happens in the other states,” he said.