MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – As Florida voters head to the polls on the last day of the General Election, the state is still seen as a toss-up in the Presidential race.
For President Donald Trump, the state’s 29 Electoral College votes are vital for any chance of re-election.
Polls have shown the Republican incumbent and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden virtually tied. And while Democrats dominated vote-by-mail ballots, Republicans closed the gap with early in-person voting and are expected to turn out in higher numbers Tuesday.
“It’s going to be close,” said Michael Binder, who runs the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab. He said the margin of victory would likely be within 1 percentage point.
“Two percent is a blowout of epic proportions in the state of Florida,” he said.
Florida set the standard for close presidential elections in 2000 when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes out of nearly 6 million that were cast. It took five weeks and a U.S. Supreme Court order halting a messy recount process before Florida determined who would the next president.
Since then, Florida has had a string of close elections. Trump carried Florida four years ago by a thin margin, beating Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percentage points and earning only 49% of the vote. In 2012, President Barack Obama carried Florida over Mitt Romney by less than a percentage point. Obama beat John McCain by 2.8 percentage points in 2008.
Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Biden, and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris have made multiple campaign stops in Florida in the final weeks of the election, as have Trump’s family and Obama.
In part because of the coronavirus pandemic, Florida already broke a record for ballots cast by mail with more than 4.6 million counted as of Monday morning. That compares with 2.7 million votes by mail in the 2016 election.
Mail-in ballots will be accepted until polls close Tuesday. Members of the military who are deployed outside the United States and citizens who live overseas have an additional 10 days to have their ballots counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, which could be a factor in a tight election.
Florida also had more than 4.3 million ballots votes cast at early voting sites. That compares with nearly 3.9 million in 2016.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)