Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Less than 24 hours before Election Day, Democrats in Florida have jumped to a 167,000 vote lead over Republicans out of the 4.5 million early votes and absentee ballots that have been cast thus far.
The last day of early voting saw a record 385,000 people head to the polls and roughly 50 percent of likely voters in the state have already cast their vote. Still, absentee ballots are still coming in and the Democrats lead is likely to shrink by the time polls open Tuesday.
According to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, roughly 200,000 fewer early votes were cast this year. The number of early voting days was slashed this year by the Republican-led Florida legislature and Governor Rick Scott, while no changes were made to absentee balloting.
Early voting tends to skew Democratic, while absentee balloting generally leans Republican.
Overall, Republicans have cast roughly 79,000 more absentee ballots than Democrats. But, Democrats have cast 246,000 more early votes, according to the Herald.
In South Florida, 248,534 early votes were cast in Broward County, while 235,733 early votes were cast in Miami-Dade County. In Monroe County, 12,291 absentee ballots have been returned, while 11,095
cast their vote early.
Florida is expected to once again be a key swing state in the 2012 presidential election. Polling has shown both candidates with a razor-thin lead in the past week, making the state a statistical tie in the view of pollsters.
If Mitt Romney can’t win the state of Florida, there’s few, if any, viable Electoral College paths for him to get to the White House.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)