Voters stick to pandemic-era habits as early turnout rises

Bonier cited Florida as an example of a state whose early vote totals send mixed signals.

At this point in 2018, Republicans made up a larger share of Florida’s top 567,000 voters than Democrats — by about seven percentage points. In 2020, Democrats had risen 21 percentage points by this stage of early voting, when 1.9 million people cast ballots. This year, Democrats lead early voting in Florida by 3.5 points, and the early vote total is about 845,000 so far.

“A Democratic supporter might look at this and say, ‘Well look, we’re ahead, we were down seven at this point in 18 and we’re up three now; it’s a 10 point margin change, good for us,” Mr. Bonier said. “Republicans will look at it and say, ‘At this point in 2020, we were down 21. Now we’re down to three. Good for us.'”

Michael McDonald, a voter turnout expert at the University of Florida, said his clearest finding so far was that there was high interest in the election.

“I think we have to get over that potential Black Friday voting rush that you get at the very beginning when the doors open,” he said. “But the fact that you even see it tells you that this is not going to be a low turnout election. It’s just the question that’s going to be what kind of voter turnout we’re going to get.

Georgia may have had the strongest early surge. Every day since early in-person voting began on Monday, the state has set daily records for early voting turnout for a midterm election. As of Friday, 519,300 voters had voted early in person, up from 304,800 at the same time in 2018, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.