Many Democratic Party leaders have pushed the use of mail-in ballots ahead of Election Day, ostensibly in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus at polling places. GOP officials, including President Donald Trump, have been advocating for in-person voting based on concerns about voter fraud.
Nevertheless, early voting data coming out of a few key battleground states indicates Republicans are keeping pace with, if not surpassing, Democrats in the number of ballots requested and returned, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
The news comes on the heels of polling data from Pew Research that showed supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were more likely — by a margin of 55% to 40% — to vote in person before Election Day than supporters of President Donald Trump.
Furthermore, Biden voters make up 69% of those who said they had already or intended to cast an early ballot by mail, with Trump voters making up just 27% of respondents.
When it comes to voting in person on Election Day, however, Trump has a clear advantage — 63% to 31% — over his Democratic rival, according to the poll.
A similar disparity could be seen in the results of a recent Axios/Survey Monkey poll, which showed 74% of those who “strongly disapprove” and 65% of those who “somewhat disapprove” of Trump plan to cast a ballot by mail.
In comparison, 54% of those who “somewhat approve” and 77% of those who “strongly approve” of the president said that they intend to cast their vote in-person, either early or on Election Day.
Swing state divisions
Those results would rightfully lead to the assumption that Biden would be ahead in the count by a considerable margin among absentee ballots cast thus far in the election season. That does not appear to be the case, however — at least not in the critical states of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
According to NBC News, 2.8 million mail-in ballots were requested in Michigan and 1.2 million have already been returned. Of those requested, 39% were from registered Democrats compared to 41% from Republicans.
Just over 503,000 ballots have been returned out of 2.4 million mail-in ballots requested in Ohio with a virtual tie represented along party lines. Finally, Republicans are leading Democrats in the number of mail-in ballots requested in Wisconsin, where roughly 750,000 have already been returned.
Whether this trend will hold up in the remaining days of early voting or spread to other swing states remains to be seen. Democrats maintain a lead in a number of battlegrounds, such as Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
The winner will not be announced until votes are counted on Election Day, though, and that is when everything could shift dramatically in the president’s favor.