Here are the Florida early voting statistics, with comparisons to 2008.
It has to be said up front that it’s not clear what the proper comparison with 2008 is. Changes to Florida’s early voting laws shortened the early voting period, from two weeks to eight days. So, do we compare statistics from October 27, 2012 with the first day of early voting in 2008 (October 20, 2008) or with the eighth day from the end of the early voting period (October 26, 2008)? My choice is the latter. However, in writing about the start of early voting in Florida, it would also be useful to make comparisons with the first day of early voting in 2008.
In 2008, almost 158,000 people voted on the first day of early voting. In 2012, that number was 295,000. However, in 2008, by the time Florida had gotten to within eight days of the end of early voting, over 1 million people had voted. So, you can see why it’s important to be clear about how the accounting is framed — are we comparing from the beginning of period, or the end of the period?
In 2008, the first day partisan breakdown was 56.6% Democrat, 29.0% Republican, 10.8% independent, and 3.6% other parties. In 2012, the first day breakdown was 48.8% Democrat, 35.3% Republican, 13.1% independent, and 2.7% other parties. In 2008, on the eighth day before the end of early voting, the partisan breakdown was 62.8% Democrat, 20.1% Republican, 13.8% independent, and 3.3% other.
Whichever way we look at it, the Democratic advantage in Florida early voting has diminished, from either a 27.5 or 42.7 percentage point advantage (depending on your perspective) down to a 13.5 percentage point advantage.
Let’s see what souls to the polls does.
I have posted the spreadsheet with the running comparisons at the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/oqjmvykd7oa8j66/fl_early_voting_comparison_20121028.xlsx.