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FL Dems beat GOP by 73,000 early votes by Monday, wipes out GOP absentee-vote lead. But....

In the first two days of in-person early voting, Florida Democrats wiped away a lead that Florida Republicans had run up thanks to the GOP's strong absentee-ballot program. In all, about 1.9 million ballots have been cast (about 16 percent of the 11.9 million voters)

As of this morning, Democrats cast a total of 73,000 more early in person ballots than Republicans, who had cast about 63,000 more absentee ballots, typically cast by mail. So it looks like a 10,000-vote edge for Democrats.

But it's probably smaller than that.

The Monday absentee ballot numbers aren't really updated because no mail is delivered Sunday. By averaging the daily percentage increases of the GOP absentee-vote lead, the total Democratic advantage could be as low as 2,000. Of course, it could be higher. This is just a projection.

Perhaps more troubling for Democrats is the trend: The second day of early voting appears to have been smaller than the first. On Saturday, about 300,000 people early voted. On Sunday, that number appears to have dropped to 215,000 -- a 28 percent decline from the day before.

Democratic votes declined 26 percent, Republican votes declined 29 percent while independent voters declined only 18 percent.

That suggests the first day of in-person early voting was so heavy because it was releasing pent-up demand, not because of some great ground game effort by President Obama. Also, yesterday was the only in-person early voting Sunday, when black churches hold their "Souls to the Polls" rallies.

The possible trendline is bad news for Obama because he's trailing in the polls -- including among independents. Assuming the polls are right, a consistently largescale Democratic turnout would counteract any loss of independent support. Also, the percentage lead of registered Democrats over Republicans is down from 5.8 percentage points to 4.5 percentage points in 2008. They still have a raw voter lead of about 536,000.

There are still six days of early voting left. The GOP-Legislature reduced the 14 days of early voting in 2008 to eight days this year. So the next few get-out-the-vote days are crucial for Obama, who was in Orlando today, and Romney, who's coming to Miami on Wednesday.

Early votes:

Party      Early Vote           %
DEM         251,110 49%
REP         177,958 35%
IND           84,121 16%
TOTAL         513,189

Absentee votes:

Party       AB votes         %
DEM         532,903 39%
REP         595,940 44%
IND         222,859 16%
TOTAL      1,351,702


Party          EV+AB          %
DEM         784,013 42%
REP         773,898 41%
IND         306,980 16%
Total      1,864,891

**Note: "Independents" is shorthand for those independent of the Republican and Democratic Party; 89% of registered independents are officially No Party Affiliation voters. All figures here are compiled from state elections data, some of which doesn't exactly jibe with county-reported data, which changes hourly. Still, the margins of error are relatively small