About 4 million early votes were cast by Floridians by Saturday morning, the last day of early voting, which looks like it will be a heavy-turnout day.Democrats have steadily increased their margins, leading Republicans now by about 187,000 early in-person ballots cast as of this morning. Republicans led Democrats by 84,000 absentee ballots cast.
Net Democratic advantage: 104,000, a lead that grows with each day of early voting.
Total number of early voters through Friday: More than 353,000. That's more than 2 million ballots cast in a week.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott has refused to extend early voting into the Sunday before Election Day, an early vote time that he and the GOP Legislature specifically eliminated after President Obama in 2008 turned out massive numbers of Democrats to help beat Republican John McCain. Scott's law also shortened early voting days from 14 to eight and, relative to the extra hours approved by then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008, has effectively ensured that urban Democratic counties, such as those in South Florida, have a cumulative 24 fewer hours to vote compared to four years ago.
Turnout this year has hit record highs during early voting, which haven't been glitch-free (for background on turnout issues and other early and absentee ballot data click this Florida Voters link to access past posts).
The number of total early voters is so high that there's a chance almost 50 percent of the electorate will have voted before Election Day (there are 12 million registered voters, but about 75 percent -- or 9 million -- typically show). Right now, about 44 percent of the 9 million likely voters have already cast their ballots.
Our latest poll shows President Obama is losing Florida overall to Mitt Romney, 45-51 percent. But Obama is carrying South Florida. And if South Florida overperforms on Election day (along with urban Democratic-heavy counties like Orange and Hillsborough), he can certainly carry Florida.
The early vote numbers:
Total early votes: