As we’re watching record numbers of votes by mail roll in nationally and right here in Florida, one of the keys will be whether these are new voters or voters who would have ordinarily voted in person pre-pandemic. Ask Democrats and they’ll generally suggest they’re expanding the field. Ask Republicans and they say they’re voters who would have voted in person anyway. So, what’s real? Because the answer will likely determine the winner of the Presidential election and races straight down the ballot.
I’ll have a much better opportunity answering this question once early voting begins in Florida. If Republicans meaningfully outpace Democrats in Early voting, we’ll have our answer. Likewise, if Democrats hold an advantage with early voting on back of their vote by mail lead, we'll have a strong signal of what’s happening. In advance of that information being available, however, I thought it’d be a good exercise to see how many new voters Florida has and how they’ve registered over four years ago. Democrats added 298,090, Republicans added 444,922, and NPA\Other added 363,430.
Notably, Republicans have added nearly 147,000 more voters than Democrats over the past four years. Moreover, Republican registration has been the fastest growing in our state with NPA’s outpacing Democrats. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 112,911 votes. Republicans have outpaced Democrats in voter registration by a larger margin than Trump’s victory in 2016. Why does this matter beyond the obvious? The history of incumbency tells us most voters stick with their original votes. In other words, few voters who vote for a Presidential candidate who won, flip their votes to an opposition candidate four years later. Instead, the two ways an incumbent is most at risk is through new voter registration which could benefit the opposition candidate and/or and increase in turnout. In Florida, at 75% turnout in 2016, it was the highest turnout for any election since 1992 and one of the highest in Florida history. Simply put, it’s unlikely 2020 will exceed 2016’s turnout levels. That takes us back to the voter registration changes. Unless a vast majority of recently registered NPA’s are Democrats in disguise this is good news for Republicans statewide in 2020.
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