Democrats widen lead over GOP in Florida early votes as several instances of cheating and fraud have been reported in favor of Hillary. In Broward County, Florida, the Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has come under fire in recent days as allegations of voter fraud and other blunders continue to plague her office in the final days of the presidential election.
Florida Democrats increased their lead over Republicans in casting pre-Election Day ballots to nearly 33,000 as of Sunday morning, but the sheer number of new voters and independents makes it tougher than ever for experts to say whether Hillary Clinton has a clear advantage over Donald Trump in the nation’s biggest battleground state.
Of the record 6.1 million in-person early votes and absentee ballots cast, Democrats have an advantage over Republicans of only 0.5 percentage points, with each party casting roughly 39 percent of the ballots. Though it’s a lead for Democrats, they’re not going to match their 3.7-percentage-point lead in early votes by Election Day they enjoyed in 2012. And Republicans tend to outvote Democrats on Election Day in Florida.
The early and absentee ballots won’t be tallied until Election Day, but party registration is still a strong predictor of whom voters will choose. And that’s where independents — whose support for Trump or Clinton varies by the survey — make this election so confounding. They’ve cast 1.3 million ballots, or 21 percent of the ballots so far, and they’re therefore shaping up to be the fulcrum on which the race for the White House tilts, because Trump is almost assured a loss without Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes.
On top of that, about 25 percent of the early voting electorate so far did not vote in 2012.
“Together, these are just a big X-factor,” said Daniel A. Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who provides the best nonpartisan research on the state’s voter rolls.
“We don’t know the vote choice of the independents, and I’d be very wary of predictive models showing whether they support Trump or Clinton,” said Smith, who posts numbers daily on his ElectionSmith website. “Then you have a quarter of the electorate so far with no vote history in 2012. So we know little or almost nothing about them.”