Nearly twice as many Democrats returned their ballots compared to Republicans, according to the U.S. Elections Project data.
Five days before Election Day, more than 76.5 million ballots have been returned to date – more than half of the total number of votes cast in the 2016 election.
Slightly more Republicans have so far voted in person (3,511,359 for Republicans vs. 3,115,299 for Democrats), but when it comes to returning postal ballots, the Democrats are ahead by far.
Not all states indicate the party affiliation of the premature voters, but among the states that do are the important battlefield states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.
According to the data, 28,803,848 ballots were returned by early Thursday morning. Of these, 7,445,359 were from Republicans compared to 14,509,626 from Democrats.
However, Democrats have also requested more ballots than Republicans, which means that more Democratic ballots have not yet been returned.
For Democrats, 10,382,132 ballots are outstanding, while for Republicans, 7,313,731 ballots have not yet been returned. So far, the Democrats have a 58.3 percent return rate, compared to 50.4 percent for Republicans.
#Early ballot papers End-of-day update 10/28
At least 76 million people participated in the 2020 parliamentary elections ð¥³https://t.co/s8K2xFDeSA pic.twitter.com/ZhbDTpkw7B
– Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) October 29, 2020
Michael McDonald, Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, who heads the project to collect early voting statistics, described the numbers as “overwhelming” in a recent analysis of the data.
“Across the country, voters are not only being sent an unprecedented number of at least 87 million postal ballots, but they are being returned earlier than in previous elections,” McDonald wrote on October 25. He said the pace of early voting in some states indicates that they could exceed their 2016 total this week.
He added that the Democrats have a “big advantage” on postal votes and on the response rates to postal votes. “These national figures for the states with party registration are reflected in every state with party registration; they are not just an artifact of large, strongly democratic states like California that only hold postal votes,” McDonald wrote.
But he warned that Democrats may have more ballots outstanding than the numbers show because they only reflect the states that report party registrations.
McDonald noted that more Republicans would have to vote in person to “gain ground” with Democratic mail voters, either at the start or on election day.
“There is some room for maneuver in the early personal voting process, but time is running out, so Republicans will have to rely heavily on voting on Election Day, which has traditionally been a strong election day for Republicans in recent elections,” he added.