TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Nearly 4 million people have already voted in Florida’s election and early numbers indicate Republicans could have a huge advantage once voting ends Tuesday.
Through Thursday, 1.7 million Republicans have already cast ballots for the races that will determine whether Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio will be reelected. That compares to 1.4 million cast by Democrats.
The Florida GOP could also increase its representation in the U.S. House, thanks partly to a new congressional map that was drawn to favor Republican candidates.
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 more than 2,500 more ballots in Miami-Dade than Democrats. In 2018, Democrats cast nearly 254,000 ballots before Election Day, compared to just more than 180,000 for Republicans.R
Voters registered with minor parties or no party at all have cast about 750,000 ballots through Thursday.
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 60% of GOP mail ballots having already been received compared to 53% for Democrats.
The campaigns will be active the final weekend before Election Day encouraging voters to turn out. Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally with Rubio and candidates for U.S. House on Sunday, while DeSantis separately campaigns at several stops throughout the state. Demings and Crist also plan multiple events around the state.
During the Trump rally, Demings plans to run a campaign ad on Fox News showing clips from the 2016 GOP presidential primary, with Trump calling Rubio as “Little Marco,” saying Florida voters hate him and that he conned voters by not showing up to vote.
Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.
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