TAMPA, Fla. — After months of work, it all comes down to Tuesday — and it doesn't look good for Florida Democrats.
While the party saw more than a million voters cast mail ballots this cycle, Republicans put up big numbers of early in-person votes.
Monday's latest state data showed the GOP with a near 320,000-ballot lead heading into Election Day. That's about 10 times the lead Democrats had during the last midterm cycle in 2018.
All of this has Republicans predicting potential supermajorities in the state Legislature and a big re-election win for Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"If we continue to be plugged into what the community is saying and feeling — and continue to be a champion for what is important to our communities— we’ll do well," Florida GOP executive director Helen Ferré said.
Many analysts think DeSantis is on track to beat former President Donald Trump's 2020 margin of 3.3 percentage points in Florida — and, according to numerous polls, he has a shot at a double-digit victory. That hasn't happened since voters re-elected former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002.
If the predictions of a red wave hold — political experts think Democrats will have a lot to consider over the next two years.
University of South Florida professor emerita Dr. Susan MacManus said the party will need a holistic approach, re-evaluating how and who they’re targeting.
"They have to revamp and look at the demographics of who supports Democratic candidates," MacManus said. "It's younger people, and they really must figure out a way to talk to them and reach them."
Democrats continue to encourage voters to drop off the many mail ballots still out there. As of Monday morning, the party had nearly 800,000 still in the hands of voters.
Gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist's campaign saud Friday it was hoping for a strong showing from Democrats on Election Day and to capture independents, even some disillusioned Republicans.
"Vote for, you know, what's really impacting you," Crist running mate Karla Hernández said. "Don't let, you know, whatever description you have on your voter ID card take you a certain route."
Success will be difficult for Crist as Election Day turnout typically favors Republicans — likely giving the party an even bigger margin of ballots.
Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and remain open until 7 p.m. local time. Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said in a recent news release ballots were expected to be counted as quickly as possible.
"The Department has prepared for this election by strengthening election integrity so Florida voters can remain confident that their ballots will be counted accurately and on time," Byrd said in a statement. "I have also visited with all 67 of Florida's supervisors of elections and can confidently say that each Supervisor is ready to support their voters and administer a successful election."