A record-shattering 52 million Americans have already submitted their ballots with 11 days still to go until the November 3 presidential election, according to data collected by the US Elections Project.
That figure already exceeds the total number of early votes registered in the 2016 election, which, at just over 47 million, was previously touted as the highest early vote total in US history.
Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor behind the US Elections Project, estimates that, based on current data, the total turnout will exceed 150 million people, smashing the previous record of 137.5 million set in 2016.
I've been saying for over a year turnout will be 150 million. Glad to see others coming around to my prediction. I will fine-tune the estimate next week as all-mail ballot states near completion, for those states where mail ballots must be back to election offices by Election Day https://t.co/VzUbQ1jsxg
— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) October 22, 2020
In percentage terms, that’s 65 percent of all eligible voters in the US – a level of enthusiasm not seen since 1908.
McDonald’s claim has been supported by other election analysts, including FiveThirtyEight’s well-known polling guru Nate Silver.
Based on an update we'll be releasing later today, we're now projecting total turnout in the presidential race to be 154 million, with an 80th percentile range between 144 million and 165 million. In 2016, turnout was 137 million, by comparison.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) October 22, 2020
The record-breaking numbers have been attributed to two main factors. The first is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which, of all countries, arguably hit the US the hardest. This prompted the US Centers for Disease Control to recommend anyone able to do so to vote remotely and submit their ballot by mail.
That, in turn, prompted multiple states to make voting by mail more accessible than in previous years.
The unprecedented interest and enthusiasm of Americans in the lead-up to polling day is the other factor driving early voting, and what’s prompting millions of new voters to participate in the 2020 election. According to TargetSmart – a Democratic-affiliated analytics firm – 7.3 million infrequent and first-time voters had cast their ballots as of October 20, which is almost 2.5 times more than in 2016.
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“If we want to look at it in terms of who has more intensity and where does the advantage lie, it’s in these infrequent and first-time voters,” TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier told Reuters on Wednesday.
While the data coming out of early voting seems to favor the Democrats (11.8 million registered Democrats are confirmed to have voted, as opposed to 6.3 million Republicans), President Trump’s party appears unconcerned at these statistics. In fact, the Republicans are confident their party did a better job of enthusing inexperienced voters. “There’s just no way the Democrats can spin this. We dominated them when it comes to getting new voters,” an anonymous campaign official told Reuters.
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