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22 million Americans have already registered to vote in the 2020 election, a record-breaking early vote driven by democratic enthusiasm and an epidemic that has changed the way the country votes.
Eight states have not yet reported a total of more than two weeks’ ballot, but the 22.2 million ballots submitted as of Friday night represent 16% of all votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.
Electoral experts are predicting that Americans will rush to the polls to record 150 million votes, and the turnout may be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.
“This is crazy,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida, who has long found voting for his site, ElectProject.org. McDonald’s analysis shows that about 10 times as many people voted compared to this point in 2016.
“We can be sure it will be a high turnout,” McDonald said.
Donald Trump’s unwavering campaign against mail-in voting is seen by some analysts as a dangerous tactic.
Democrats voted 2-1 to Republicans in 42 states listed by the Associated Press.
Republicans have been pushing themselves for these early Democratic gains for months as President Donald Trump watched the train against mail-in ballots and raised unfounded concerns about fraud.
Polling, now early voting, rhetoric indicates that his party’s rank and file have changed and, traditionally, they dominated the weeks leading up to election day.
It gives the Democrats a strategic advantage in the final stages of the campaign. In many crucial battlefields, Democrats have “banked” a proportion of their electorate, and it is difficult to find voters whose time and money are scarce.
But this does not mean that Democrats will advance in the polls by the time the ballots are counted. Both parties expect Republican votes to increase on election day, which could turn into a dynamic within hours.
“Republican numbers are going to be taken,” said John Covillon, a GOP voter who had previously observed the vote. “The question is at what speed, and when?”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who campaigned in Michigan on Friday, took a healthier lead than Donald Trump in the polls.
Kovilon said Democrats cannot rest on their laurels but Republicans themselves are making a big gamble.
Many factors, from rising viral infections to weather, will affect individual polling on election day.
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“If you put all your faith in one day’s voting, it’s a really high risk,” Kovilon said.
That is why, despite Trump’s rhetoric, his campaign and party are encouraging their own voters to register to vote by mail, sooner or in person.
The campaign, which has been sending volunteers and staff to the sector for months despite the epidemic, is making a huge leap in voter registration in the major swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania.
There has been limited success in selling absentee ballots. In major swing states, Republicans do not want to vote by mail.
In Pennsylvania, three-quarters of the 437,000 ballots sent by mail so far are from Democrats.
In Florida, half of all ballots sent by mail so far are from Democrats, and a third of them from Republicans. Even in Colorado, which sends a ballot mail to every voter and is usually dominated by Republicans in the first week of voting, only 19% of the returned ballots are from Republicans.
“It’s all encouraging, but three weeks is a lifetime,” Democratic data strategist Tom Bonnier said of the early vote numbers.
“We may be halfway through the first quarter, with Democrats scoring two points.”
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