With 2 Million Florida Mail-In Votes Already Cast, Democrats Nearly Double GOP Returns

Democrats have returned nearly twice as many mail-in ballots compared to their Republican counterparts in the battleground state of Florida, where about 2 million votes have already been cast.

Early returns through Monday, October 12, show Democrats continuing to hold a major advantage over Republicans in terms of mailed ballots being sent back in to polling places - something GOP voters in Florida have always done in much higher numbers than Democrats. Counties where Trump won sizably in 2016 including Volusia, Brevard, Lake and Sumter, all show mail ballots being returned by Democrats at nearly twice the rate. Statewide, Democrats have returned more than 850,000 ballots versus Republicans who have returned about 475,000.

The slowest rate of return has come from the 312,000 voters identified as "No Party Affiliation/Other."

In Florida's Orange County, where Hillary Clinton won in 2016, Democrats have returned nearly 40,000 ballots versus only 13,000 Republicans as of October 11, Florida Department of State records revealed.

Republican strategists say President Donald Trump himself may be part of the reason why GOP voters are lagging far behind in returning their ballots - an unprecedented voting trend in the state. The president has floated a wide array of conspiracy theories regarding mail-in and absentee voting, all unproven remarks alleging fraud.

Several Republican strategists in Florida say an inability to see major early voting results puts the GOP at a major disadvantage and "could leave them blind" as they promote their get-out-the-vote operations in the coming three weeks, one strategist said.

"One of the advantages of having absentee ballots or voting by mail is it gives you a little bit of a snapshot as they are returned, and finding out who is returning them and where you are in your field operation," said GOP strategist Matt Gorman, in an interview with the New York Times published Sunday. "If Republicans aren't getting accurate reads on that, they're not getting accurate reads on where they need to adjust more."

The Times report cited University of Florida political science Professor Michael McDonald noting that Democrats are returning their ballots earlier than Republicans in states across the country.

"In Florida, he said, 11.5 percent of Democrats who requested absentee ballots have returned them, compared with 8.7 percent of Republicans," the Times reported. "The same pattern emerges in another battleground state, North Carolina, where the return rate for Democratic ballots is 32.9 percent, and the return rate for Republicans is 27.4 percent."

A 56 percent majority of Republicans across 11 states said they plan to vote in-person, compared to just 26 percent of Democrats who say the same. Senate Republicans recently refused to adopt a stimulus package that would have helped fund voting operations and thus open up polling locations that will now remain closed due to the pandemic, potentially creating long lines and wait times nationwide for those who vote on November 3.

The most recent Florida polls conducted by Reuters/Ipsos and Quinnipiac show Biden leading Trump by 4 to 11 points among all voters, but perhaps more importantly, among independent voters. Quinnipiac's poll released October 7 showed Biden with an actual majority for the first time, 51 percent, versus Trump with 40 percent of support.

Newsweek reached out to the Florida Department of State for additional data and early return information Monday morning.

the villages florida voters biden
Residents of The Villages, Florida, take part in a golf cart parade on August 21, 2020, to celebrate the nomination of Joe Biden for Democratic presidential candidate and Kamala Harris for vice president. CHANDAN KHANNA / Contributor/Getty Images