TAMPA (WFLA) – Mail-in voting has been a successful strategy for Florida Republicans for decades, but Democrats are dominating the postal ballots so far this election cycle.
8 On Your Side’s Battleground Florida team reached out to county elections supervisors across Tampa Bay. Democrats have requested far more ballots for next month’s primary than Republicans – even in counties where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats.
For example, Pasco County Democrats have requested 40,510 mail ballots so far to Republicans 36,759. But Republicans make up 40% of registered voters in Pasco, compared to 30.5% who are Democrats.
The same is true in the other four of Tampa Bay’s five largest counties – Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota.
President Trump has constantly attacked mail-in voting for months, tweeting earlier this week that it “will lead to the most corrupt election in our nation’s history.”
That messaging could be having an impact on the mail ballot request numbers.
“At this point in 2016, and really going into Election Day, Republicans were dominating vote by mail,” said Dr. Josh Scacco, professor of political communication at the University of South Florida. “And we’re not seeing that at this point.”
The president’s attacks on mail voting could come back to haunt him in November.
“Vote-by-mail in Florida is a highly-favored method of voting by Republicans,” said Zayne Smith, associate director of advocacy for AARP Florida. “The numbers don’t lie.”
Recent polling by AARP, Florida Politics and St. Pete Polls shows more Republicans are afraid that voting by mail leads to voter fraud than Democrats. The same poll also showed that Republicans are less fearful of getting COVID-19 from in-person voting, so it could be that Florida Republicans plan to vote early or on Election Day.
But that’s a risky strategy.
“In the 21st century, no Republican president has been elected without Florida,” said Scacco. “Joe Biden has several paths to victory. For Donald Trump, you take Florida out of the equation, you suddenly need to make up all those electoral votes in a few states.”
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