Democratic turnout advantage in pre-election vote narrows in key states

Democrats continue to maintain their lead over Republicans in pre-Election Day ballots cast in the battleground states of North Carolina and Florida, but that gap is narrowing as in-person early voting ramps up.

In North Carolina, the margin between Democrats and Republicans who have already cast their ballot has been cut in half since last Monday, according to the most recent party data from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations.

The data shows Democrats led Republicans in ballots cast in the Tar Heel State by 32 percentage points (50%-18%) at the beginning of last week, but that margin has narrowed to just 16 points (43%-27%).

This is not predictive of an ultimate outcome, as polls suggest Democrats across the country are more likely to vote prior to Election Day than Republicans.

In-person early voting began in North Carolina on October 15 and, so far, there is a big difference between who is voting by mail and who is voting in person.

Looking only at ballots cast by mail, data from the state board of elections shows Democrats have a 30-point lead over Republicans as of Thursday morning. Democrats also lead in in-person voting so far, but the gap is narrower — only 8 points.

In Florida, that difference is even more stark.

Fourty-eight percent of mail ballots cast so far have come from Democrats, while 31% have come from Republicans as of Thursday morning, according to the Florida Secretary of State’s office.

The breakdown is reversed when it comes to in-person early voting, which began in some Florida counties on October 19. Fourty-six percent of those ballots have come from Republicans so far, and 37% have come from Democrats.

According to Catalist, the current Democratic lead in total ballots cast in Florida narrowed from 21 points (50%-29%) since the beginning of last week to 13 points (46%-33%) in the most recent data.

New CNN polling conducted by SSRS shows about 35% of likely voters in Florida say they have already cast a ballot. Of that group, 71% say they back Biden and 27% back Trump. Fifty-six percent of those who have yet to cast a ballot say they back Trump, and 40% say they back Biden.

Overall, there has been a surge in pre-Election Day voting across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, as voters are turning out in record numbers to cast their ballots by mail or in person where available ahead of November 3.

More than 45 million Americans have already cast their general election ballots in 48 states and Washington, DC, according to a survey of election officials by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist.


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