A flood of mail-in ballots from Democratic voters are pouring into the mail and ballot collection boxes, overwhelming the number of GOP mail votes.
As of Sunday, registered Democrats returned 2.1 million mail ballots, more than double the 931,000 ballots that registered Republicans have cast, according to tracking by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor who analyzes early voting.
McDonald said this presidential election is the first in which Democrats are returning pre-Election Day ballots at a faster rate than Republicans.
“Democrats are highly engaged, and they’re turning out,” Tom Bonier, CEO of Democratic vote-tracking firm TargetSmart, told The New York Times. “Republicans can’t say the same.”
The “massive Democratic head start” makes it “much more difficult for the Trump campaign to play catch up,.” Louisiana pollster John Couvillon, who tracks voter statistics, told The Hill. The Democratic Party is armed with information to target areas with lower mail-in turnout, he noted.
Republican voters may have taken to heart President Donald Trump’s repeated dire and unfounded warnings about faulty mail ballots, while Democrats ignored them. Bad weather, fears of catching COVID-19 and long, slow lines could further discourage GOP voters who wait for Election Day to head to the polls.
As of Sunday, more than 9 million ballots had been received by election officials in the 30 states that make the data available. (Some two-thirds of the early voters are either independent or their party affiliations aren’t tracked.)
In five states — including battleground Wisconsin and Minnesota — the number of ballots returned is more than 20% of the entire 2016 vote, according to McDonald’s tracking.
In Wisconsin, about 146,000 people voted by mail in 2016. So far this year, about 647,000 people have voted by mail, many in Democratic strongholds
A full 36% of the total number of all votes in 2016 in Wisconsin’s overwhelmingly Democratic Dane County, which includes Madison, have already been cast by absentee ballot, the Times reports. But voters in Republican-leaning regions in Wisconsin are generally voting early by mail no more than the previous average, according to the newspaper.
The pattern is being repeated in Pittsburgh, North Carolina’s Chapel Hill, Houston, and in Tampa, Florida, according to the Times.
Almost 53% of votes cast in Florida have come from registered Democrats, while Republicans accounted for just 28%, according to the tracking figures. In battleground Pennsylvania, registered Democrats have cast more than three-quarters of all ballots returned so far. Republicans accounted for just 15% of ballots.
Voting behavior supports earlier predictions that Americans — including first time and infrequent voters expected to lean Democratic — are enthusiastic about participating in this election.
“We’re looking at multipliers of five, six, seven times more infrequent voters,” Bonier told The Hill. “We’ve been reading the tea leaves for months now. Now the votes are actually coming in.”