TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — High stakes and a deadly virus pushed an unprecedented number of Floridians to vote early this year. Nearly nine million Floridians have cast ballots before Election Day.
That is a whopping 62% of the state's active registered voters so far. It’s also a leap over 2016's total early turnout, more than 2.4 million.
A closer look shows Democrats outpacing Republicans in raw votes by near 110,000. The cushion is not much bigger than the last cycle when President Trump took the state.
"It's really too close to call," said Florida State Political Scientist Carol Weissert. "It's going to be very close in Florida."
Weissert couldn't give either candidate an edge. She said victory depends on who nabs more of the state's 3.7 million independents. Plus, whether the GOP sees a big anticipated turnout, Tuesday.
"My question is, are there a lot of people left -- Republicans left that haven’t voted?" said Weissert. "I'm really going to be interested to see what the turnout is like on Election Day, see if there are indeed these people that waited until the end and wanted to do that. Or is there some cannibalization of people who would have voted on that day, and we have counted them already?"
The stakes are higher for the president here. He likely needs Florida for re-election. But poll averages show him slightly behind, within the margin of error.
Trump confidante Rudy Giuliani told us recently to dismiss that data in favor of other metrics -- Trump rallies.
"Donald Trump draws crowds that I have never seen before," said the attorney and former New York mayor. "These are crowds three to four times greater than any presidential candidate. That says something to me."
To the Biden Campaign, it says Florida can't be relied on.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina, said last week the state is a "want" not a "need" for victory. Biden, he said, is more focused on must-win states in the upper Midwest.
"We have got to be realistic about this," said Clyburn. "We can’t waste time getting to 265. We have got to get to 270."
Political experts think the state might know who gets its 29 electoral votes sooner rather than later. Some suggest with so many voting early and those votes already being counted, there is a good chance Floridians will have a winner declared before Wednesday morning.