Almost 2.8 million Floridians have cast early and absentee ballots so far, and Republican returns are still ahead of Democrats, who have been in slow-motion catchup.
GOP lead over Democrats: 133,521, or 4.8 percentage points as of this morning. Yesterday's lead: 134,910 or 5.3 percent.
While Democrats can rightly boast they're closing the gap, the question lingers: Is it enough? Probably not. Republicans' lead could be cut to less than 4 percentage points by Election Day, according to an extrapolation of the past five days' voting rates. That could be a vote margin of more than 128,000 in Republican's favor. Again this is an extrapolation based on current rates. This analysis is conservative both in its mathematical assumptions and, incidentally, in its political outcome because it shows Republicans doing rather well.
This weekend could easily throw the averages more in Democrats' favor. This is the last weekend of in-person early voting, when Democrats have a chance to flex their more than 455,000-voter advantage. This is the time to see if Souls to the Polls, when African-Americans have flocked to vote after church, will really make a difference.
Last weekend did relatively little for Democrats. And this weekend, Republicans want to make sure it's a repeat.
One factor in Democrat Charlie Crist's favor, most polls show him winning independents. And no-party-affiliation and third-party voters could make up as much as 18 percent of the pre-Election Day voters. Obviously, we only have polls to guide us because votes won't be tallied until Election Day.
Polls show the race essentially tied. Ask many of Florida's top political minds who's going to win and they say they have no clue. There are so many unknowns and oddities with this race, with two deeply flawed candidates who are basically both incumbents.
Many are predicting low overall turnout. If we have 2010's 49 percent turnout, about 5.8 million people will vote. So about 47 percent of the vote is already in. Based on current rates, 3.2 million could vote by absentee or early vote ballot, which could be 60 percent of the electorate.
Prior posts on related topics can be found through the Florida Voters tab and here are today's in-person early votes and absentee votes, followed by the totals: