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From voting history to race, an analysis of the 1.1m absentee voters on early vote eve

More than 1.1 million Floridians have already voted by absentee ballot in the past month, which amounts to regular-season play in the contact sport of Florida politics.

The GOP is the top seed, edging Democrats by 5 percentage points in casting absentee ballots, which are typically mailed in.

But the playoffs start Saturday with in-person early voting. And that’s when Democrats — already narrowing the absentee-ballot gap with Republicans — typically excel.

"We are going to keep Florida blue," Ashley Walker, President Obama’s Florida director, boasted Friday in a conference call where the campaign touted facts and figures showing its strong organization.

However, the Obama campaign’s successful push to bank absentee ballots could cost it some bragging rights when it comes to showing big gains during the in-person early voting period that runs from Saturday to Nov. 3.

This year, about 38 percent of the absentee ballots cast by Democrats have come from those who voted early or voted on Election Day in 2008, according to an analysis of voting records by The Miami Herald and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

That means Democrats could post relatively fewer early-voting increases over Republicans compared to 2008, when Democrats cast 500,000 more in-person early votes while the GOP cast about 250,000 more absentee ballots.

In all, about 9 million Floridians are expected to vote in this year’s presidential race, with about 40 percent casting ballots before Election Day, Nov. 6.

Republicans say Democrats have “cannibalized” their early voters this time.

But the Obama campaign dismisses that as “spin” and says it’s focused on getting its core voters out while trying to entice occasional or sporadic voters — who tend to back Obama — to show up at the polls.

Also, it’s not as if Republicans haven’t eaten into some of their regular voters, either. About 29 percent of the absentee ballots cast by Republicans this year came from those who voted early or on Election Day in 2008, The Miami Herald and FCIR analysis shows.....

Only 8 percent of the absentee ballots cast so far have been from African-Americans, and just 9 percent from Hispanics. About 65 percent of those Hispanics are from Southeast Florida – a majority of whom are Cuban Republicans – followed by more liberal leaning Hispanics in Central Florida (15 %) and Tampa Bay (12%).

 A whopping 79 percent of the absentee-ballot voters are white non-Hispanic.....

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