High early turnout complicates midterm predictions

Andrew Gillum stood symbolically in front of a red backdrop on a stage in New Port Richey Tuesday as hundreds of people cheered him on.

Gillum feels like he's chipping away in deep-red Pasco, a county the president won in 2016 by 19 points.

"What's going on Pasco County? Are y'all ready to flip Florida blue?" Gillum called to the crowd.

A week out from the 2014 midterm, 2 million had voted in Florida, according to FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick. 

This time, in 2018, Patrick says an additional million have already weighed in. 

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President Trump, algae, healthcare, and guns may all be responsible, but so is Gillum himself.

"All of the rallies across the state, where you typically don't see large turnouts of Democratic voters, they are lined and wrapped around the buildings," said Patrick.

Another reason for Democratic optimism could be the increase in Democratic ballots already returned.

By this point in the 2014 race, Democratic ballots returned were seven points behind Republicans. This time, they're only two points behind, according to Patrick.

"Four years ago, [Democrats] lost to Gov. Scott by [only] one percent," he said.

But this is a many-sided coin, and Ron DeSantis was in mostly-blue Tampa on Tuesday stumping at a Cuban restaurant.

Republicans have their own spots in history to look for optimism. Most recently, in the 2016 election, Politico says pre-election day voting went to Hillary Clinton by nearly four points. But on election day, Trump voters overtook that margin, winning the state by just over a point.

"For all this talk of a Democratic wave, if you are a Republican, you are not seeing this," said Patrick.

Politico also says young voters make up 17 percent of the electorate but have cast only five percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, older, generally likely Republican voters make up 18 percent of the electorate but have cast over half the ballots.

"If you are a Republican, you are hoping Democrats are cannibalizing what would have been their election day voters, they are just voting early instead," said Patrick.

Which way will non-affiliated voters go? One statewide forecaster says 236,000 more of them have returned ballots, at this point in the race, than in 2014.

A strategist for Andrew Gillum says nearly a third of the votes already cast in Florida are by those who didn't vote in 2014.

It's a bigger electorate, but who will get the bigger piece of the pie?