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3.5 million FL early ballots in; Dems lead by 76,000. But it's not like 2008

About 3.5 million Floridians have already cast absentee and in-person early voting and Democrats have an edge of about 76,000 ballots cast before the polls re-opened this morning.

Expect that to continue to grow over the next two days of in-person early voting, which Democrats dominate, especially in South Florida, which is why the GOP Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott effectively shortened early voting days. Democrats have rolled up a 156,000 early vote edge while Republicans lead in absentee ballots case by about 80,000. If every Democrat and Republican who requested an absentee ballot voted it, the GOP absentee-ballot lead would be cut by half.

Most polls show Mitt Romney's winning, and Republicans note that Democrats won't have the early vote advantage they had in 2008 (when they led by anywhere from 250,000 to 363,000 ballots, depending on how you analyze the data).

Well, shortening early voting days from 14 to eight will, by definition, help shorten the number of early votes. Understand also that, relative to the actual early voting hours available in South Florida in 2008, early voting time has been cut 20 percent, or 24 total hours. And South Florida favors President Obama the most.

However, Democrats are barely matching their raw early vote numbers compared to four years ago. So there's an enthusiasm gap relative to 2008 as well.

Democrats also point out that Republicans have been talking a better game than they've produced on the ground. Republicans predicted they'd be up in early ballots cast on Election Day. It's pretty clear they won't be. The Democratic total vote margin increases with each day of early voting.

So what happens on Election Day? May the best ground game win.

Early votes

Party          EV Total            %
DEM         770,892 46%
REP         614,988 37%
IND         286,988 17%
Total       1,672,868

Absentee votes

Party         AB Total              %
REP         781,043 44%
DEM         700,970 39%
IND         308,646 17%
Total       1,790,659

Cumulative EVAB

Party            EVAB            %
DEM       1,471,862 42%
REP       1,396,031 40%
IND         595,634 17%
Total       3,463,527

Outstanding absentee ballots:

Party     Outstanding            %
REP         362,920 36%
DEM         406,634 41%
IND         230,042 23%
Total         999,596