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Republicans' absentee-vote lead ain't like the ole days; neither is Democratic registration edge

Republicans are justifiably crowing that they're leading in absentee-ballot voting, which has just begun in Florida. But then, they've always been able to do that. Republicans have traditionally dominated mail-in balloting.

Compared to where both parties were in 2008, however, the Florida Democratic Party is boasting that it has cut the Republican edge in absentee ballots cast from a 15-point deficit to a 4-point margin relative to this stage of the election (32 days out).

Democrats, also, have traditionally crushed Republican when it comes to in-person early voting at the polls.

Consider these statistics from Miami-Dade, Florida's largest county, in 2008: Nearly 170,000 absentee ballots were cast, 48 percent by Republicans who comprise just 33 percent of the total vote.  But Democrats cast about 175,000 early votes -- enough to exceeded the Republican totals for both early-vote and absentee ballots by 7 percent.

Guess what type of voting was limited this year? Early voting.

The more fraud-prone absentee-ballot voting was left untouched (more on that here) by the Republican Legislature when it passed an elections-fraud crackdown bill that happened to first ensnare... a Republican Party vendor this year. Republicans have filed complaints against the FDP and two liberal groups in the meantime.

The race between President Obama and Mitt Romney appears tighter at this point than it was between Obama and John McCain in 2008, when the Democrat won by fewer than 3 percentage points.

Four years ago, Democrats had a stunning voter-registration edge of 657,775. Now it's 454,752 as of August. Expect that lead to grow a little more once all the numbers are in (voter registration closes tomorrow). While Republicans have shut down their registration efforts, Democrats have poured it on, saying they out-registered Republicans by a margin of 18,063 in September.

But is that enough?

Obama only won by 236,450 votes in 2008. Today, the Democrats' registration edge has fallen by 184,960
as of August. Registrations don't equal votes, but they're a good predictor.

So expect what the polls are showing us: a squeaker.

Here's the historical AB data

2008 Absentee Requests
DEM
489,333
35%
IND
212,493
15%
REP
698,355
50%
TOTAL
1,400,181
Dem Difference:
-15%
2012 Absentee Requests
DEM
784,478
39%
IND
355,171
18%
REP
871,920
43%
TOTAL
2,011,569
Dem Difference:
-4%

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