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More Than 50 Million Americans Have Already Voted In Presidential Election

Topline

With 11 days remaining before Election Day on Nov. 3, U.S. elections officials have already received more than 50 million ballots, or roughly 37% of the total number of votes cast in the entire 2016 presidential election, leading some experts to predict a record-setting 150-million-plus American citizens will cast a vote this year.

Key Facts

In 2016, approximately 137 million people voted, with 57 million of those votes cast before Election Day, yet, voters have already cast 51,150,108 ballots as of Friday morning, according to U.S. Election Project data.  

Many states have expanded in-person early voting and mail-in ballots this year due to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than at least 223,000 Americans.

University of Florida Prof. Michael McDonald, who administers the U.S. Elections Project, has projected that a record-setting 150 million people will vote in the 2020 general election.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com forecasts that the total election turnout will be 154 million, with an 80th percentile range between 144 million and 165 million.

Silver wrote Thursday that polls show record levels of enthusiasm and that he’s increased the projected estimates due to academic research that shows expanded voting options tend to increase turnout. 

Key Background:

The early voting returns in many areas, including several swing states, overwhelmingly favor Democratic candidates. Among the 19 states that provide party registration data, registered Democrats have returned 10 million mail-in ballots, which is more than double the total number of ballots (4.6 million) sent in by registered Republicans. According to analysis from Hawkfish, Democratic margins are significant in Arizona (16%), Michigan (24%), North Carolina (14%), Pennsylvania (46%), and Wisconsin (22%). More than 6 million Texans have already voted, which is more than 70% of the state’s total turnout in 2016. In the Democratic stronghold of Harris County, Texas’ most populous county that includes Houston, more than 950,000 votes have been recorded, an all-time record for early voting. “Some Republicans are stuck in a model that we always run up the score on Election Day to make up the difference,” veteran Republican strategist Scott Reed told Politico. “I think running an election in a superpolarized electorate, you want to win early voting.” Reed said the early voting numbers should be considered a “warning flare” for Republicans. 

Critical Quotes: 

“I find that folks want these models to be forecasts, and they want the forecasts to be like a hurricane forecast and just to be perfect,” said Hawkfish’s CEO, Josh Mendelsohn. “And it’s not, because it is like hurricanes, you’ve got a whole bunch of model tracks, of which some are more reliable than others in certain circumstances.”

Big Number:

82.6%. That was the record-setting eligible voter turnout rate in the 1876 presidential election, when Rutherford Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden. In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln beat a trio of opponents (John Breckinridge, John Bell and Stephen Douglas), 81.8% of eligible citizens cast a vote.

Further Reading:

Harris County poised to reach 1 million ballots Friday, an all-time early record (Houston Chronicle) 

More than 50 million Americans have cast ballots in presidential election (Reuters) 

Biden is favored to win the election (538)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

Source: Forbes – Business

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