What’s the significance of over 1 million Floridians having already cast an absentee ballot?

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THE NEWS: Florida voters as of Thursday had returned more than 1 million absentee ballots, with Democrats making some headway against a traditional strength of the Republican Party. State election officials said 1.05 million had been returned to local supervisors of elections. In 2008, 1.85 million voters cast absentee ballots, and Republicans held about a 15 percentage point lead.

This year, Republicans continue to lead in absentee returns, As of Thursday, elections officials had received 467,820 absentee ballots from self-designated GOP voters. That’s 44.5 percent. Democratic-identified voted had returned 413,516, or 39.4 percent of the total. Another 169,000, or 16.1 percent, did not designate either party on their ballots.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: The current meme reads that if Democrats are running neck-and-neck with Republicans in absentee voting, than Democrats have a real shot at winning because Democrats’ Election Day turnout is typically higher. Republican strategists will argue that this is all a shell game and that the increase seen in absentee voting means less Democrats will show up on Election Day. Maybe. But here’s what those GOP strategists forget: African Americans typically don’t vote by mail. They vote early and on Election Day. So if the Democrats are running close to Republicans in absentee voting, but can still count on the AA vote as a trump card, the GOP could be in for a long election night.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.