Pre-election voting for the November election has surpassed all pre-election 2016 ballots cast with eight days left until Election Day.
More than 60 million Americans have voted so far, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist. Thirty-three states – including a dozen of CNN’s most-competitive ranked states – have surpassed their pre-election totals from 2016, the data shows.
In 2016, around 58.3 million pre-election ballots were cast, including ballots in the three vote-by-mail states that year, according to a CNN analysis. That early vote accounted for about 42% of all ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.
Pre-Election Day voting is skyrocketing nationwide amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and states are reporting record-breaking turnout as voters are energized to vote by mail or early in person before November.
Detailed voter information comes from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations and is giving insights into who is voting before November.
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Fifty-four percent of those 58.7 million votes already cast this cycle comes from CNN’s 16 most competitively ranked states, which will play a crucial role in determining who wins the presidency this year.
Among those states, Minnesota has currently seen the largest percentage increase in early voting turnout compared to last cycle, according to Catalist data from both years in 14 key states.
By age, younger voters (age 18-29) are also casting significantly more ballots and make up a greater share of the pre-Election Day vote than they did around the same time four years ago in all of the key states with information available.
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Across all 14 of these key states, voters below the age of 30 have seen upticks in their share of the early vote compared to this point in 2016.
Voters age 30 and above still comprise the vast majority of these early voters, but their share has dipped slightly from this time four years ago. The oldest voters – those 65 or older – have seen the greatest decline in their share of the early vote.
Overall, the top three states that have seen the largest increases in early voting turnout so far all expanded access to mail or early voting this year.
New Jersey, which has seen the largest increase with more than nine times as many ballots cast this year as in 2016 at this time, mailed ballots to all eligible voters in the state for the 2020 election. Delaware, which has seen more than seven times as many ballots cast as at this time four years ago, and Virginia, which has seen more than six times as many, are allowing any voter to vote by mail.
Below is a look at the skyrocketing turnout in several key states that President Donald Trump won by the narrowest of margins in 2016.
Trump won Florida by a little over one percentage point in 2016 and capturing the Sunshine State again this year is critical to his reelection prospects.
While Florida Democrats maintain an advantage in pre-election turnout, Catalist data shows the gap narrowing as more voters participate in early voting across the state.
Democrats now account for 43% of those early votes, while Republicans account for 36%. At this point in 2016, Republicans held a razor thin, approximately one-point lead in pre-election turnout.
This high turnout among Florida Democrats is reflected in recent polling about voter behavior in the Sunshine State.
New CNN polling conducted by SSRS shows about 35% of likely voters in Florida say they have already cast a ballot. Of that group, 71% say they back former Vice President Joe Biden and 27% back Trump. Fifty-six percent of those who have yet to cast a ballot say they back Trump, and 40% say they back Biden.
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This is not predictive of ultimate outcome, however, as polling shows Democrats nationwide are more likely to cast their ballots before Election Day than Republicans.
North Carolina Democrats are also outpacing Republicans in their percentage of the pre-election votes, but once again, that margin is narrowing amid a surge in early voting in the Tar Heel State.
About 40% of the early votes that Catalist has analyzed comes from Democrats compared to 30% from Republicans so far. This is similar to the partisan breakdown of pre-election day votes at this point in 2016.
However, Republicans have narrowed the gap in their share of the early vote in recent weeks.
In Pennsylvania – a key state that Trump won by less than one percentage point in 2016 – Democrats continue to hold a significant advantage over Republicans in their share of ballots already cast, according to Catalist party data.
About 70% of pre-election votes have come from Democrats so far, compared to about 20% from Republicans.
Michigan’s 16 electoral votes helped make Trump president four years ago when the state broke its six-election streak of voting for the Democratic presidential nominee.
Turnout in the Wolverine State this century peaked in 2008 with more than 5 million votes cast for president. A 2018 ballot measure changed Michigan’s rules to allow anyone to vote by mail without an excuse, and ballot returns this year are more than triple what they were at this time four years ago, according to Catalist data.
A look at those returns by race shows ballots from Black voters make up 12% of the current vote, up from 8% at this time in the 2016 cycle. Democrats are hoping to increase turnout among Black voters in areas like Detroit in their quest to bring Michigan back into the blue column.
Democrats looking to expand the electoral map are focusing heavily on Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. The Biden campaign alone has already spent $14 million more in advertising than the Trump campaign, according to CMAG.
Democrats now lead Republicans in their share of ballots cast so far, 42% to 34% respectively. At this time four years ago, Republicans’ 41% of ballots cast at the time outpaced the 38% cast by Democrats, according to Catalist data.
While this is good news for Democrats, slightly less than one-third of registered voters in the Grand Canyon State have no party affiliation, leaving plenty of room on both sides to drive up the vote in the final days of the campaign.
This story has been updated with new data.