Early voting could be crucial in battle for Florida
January 25th, 2012
04:32 PM ET
3 years ago

Early voting could be crucial in battle for Florida

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) - Florida's Republican presidential primary is still six days away, but nearly 400,000 people have already voted. And those votes could swing what is shaping up to be very close contest.

Early voting begin statewide on Saturday, and as of Wednesday morning, 127,389 ballots were cast, according to the Florida Department of State, which runs the division of elections.

CNN LIVE: Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN/Republican Party of Florida Debate hosted by Wolf Blitzer and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate. For real-time coverage of the Florida primary, go to CNNPolitics.com or to the CNN apps or CNN mobile web site.

Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @politicalticker

But wait, there's more. According to the state, more than 520,000 people have requested and were sent absentee ballots, and as of Wednesday morning 259,691 were received by Florida officials.

It appears the early votes may be helping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's deadlocked in the newest polls with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for the top spot in the battle for the Sunshine State.

According to an American Research Group survey released Wednesday, 17% of likely primary voters say they had already voted by absentee ballot or early voting. Of this group, the survey indicates Romney leads Gingrich 51% to 39%. Among the 83% who say they haven't voted yet, Romney holds a 39%-33% margin over Gingrich

If Florida's January 31 primary turns out to be a very close contest, absentee and early voting could be the deciding factor. At stake: 50 delegates, the biggest catch so far. And it's winner take all in Florida.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Romney captured half of the early absentee votes, because he has a campaign machine to produce them and none of his rivals for the GOP nomination can match him," says Alex Castellanos, a GOP strategist and CNN contributor.

"It may mean that Mitt Romney gets an extra quarter to play for that Gingrich won't, that Romney's won the fifth quarter," adds Castellanos, who was a top media adviser for Romney's 2008 nomination bid but who is not taking sides this cycle.

Overall, nearly 1.95 million people voted in the 2008 Florida GOP primary. There are currently more than four million registered Republicans in Florida, according to state officials.

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN

Also see:

New Freddie Mac contract prohibits 'lobbying activities'

Romney resets image with postcards from the edge

Gingrich gets major help


Filed under: 2012 • Florida
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Jariv

    How organized and great leader Mitt is ...

    Romney 2012 !

    January 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Phil in KC

    The rapidly changing picture in Florida is one reason I oppose early voting. People can change their minds in that time span. There are many things that can impact that. Candidates may drop out, a candidate may commit a major faux pas, or a candidate may make a major announcement. If you know you're going to be away from home on election day, then that's what absentee ballots are for.

    January 25, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Jariv

    How organized and great leader Mitt is ...
    ----------–
    He had at least six years ot prepare for the tax return issue, and he was caught unprepared. He was actually arrogant to believe that he could go through the entire campaign without releasing anything because it was not required by law. And when confronted with the issue on the debate stage, he went into panic mode and began that agitated, jittery, stuttery style of talking when he's making it up as he goes along because he is off script. It is real fun to watch.

    January 25, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. diridi

    Tax cheats...shame of this pig.

    January 25, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Rickles

    @Rudy NYC, why wouldn't you ask to see Newt's tax return from 2005-2009 or tax returns of other candidates. FYI, Santorum and Paul have not released theirs. Everyone is scrutinizing Romney because he is rich. That is unfair. Go ask for Obama's college records and Newt's $37MM agreement with medical companies that allowed him to lobby on their behalf.

    January 25, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. R

    "He had at least six years ot prepare for the tax return issue, and he was caught unprepared."

    Let me remind you all again that releasing tax returns is not a requirement to be President of the United States. If you want to have a reason not to vote for Romney, find something else instead of his tax returns. Personally, I could care less about him, but seeing people bring that up over and over again is ridiculous.

    January 25, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Romano

    Mitt all the way 2012. Enough of the Democratic Boneheads who cave into and apologize to other countries...

    January 25, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Romano

    I completely agree with Rickles comment. People are envious of rich people. Enough said...

    January 25, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Rudy, it's clear the R-Money Neocon Robot, running the GWB Version 2.0 personality software package, has not been sufficiently well-programmed to respond to unplanned circumstances. Jariv, on the other hand, is very well programmed. Admittedly, it's a very simple loop: "R-Money yes, print praise string"

    January 25, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    @Rickles – I don't understand your question. I'm not calling for Romney's returns from past years. You are. Santorum is working on his this weekend. Paul has no plans to release anything, which is why he won't get elected.

    January 25, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    R wrote:

    Let me remind you all again that releasing tax returns is not a requirement to be President of the United States.
    -----------------–
    Nope, it isn't a legal requirement. But, the public wants to know who you work for, and they have a right to know who their leader works for. Would you vote for someone if they were being directly paid by a foreign nation?

    January 25, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ Rickles Newt and others doesn’t sound like supper rich , Mitt Romney Making $57000 day but he talk like Middle class

    January 25, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. Dallen

    Romney your my hero and will vote for you!!!

    January 25, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. Proud Progressive

    @R neither is showing your birth certificate but you repukes and fox news rode that horse into the ground.

    January 25, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. GI Joe

    The latinos in Florida are not dumb - they don't want a crazy Newt (dictator-like in his actions, much the same as Castro), so they'll settle for Romney in the republican primary. We'll need to watch the votes VERY carefully in the general election tho, because that state DID allow the Supreme Court to "Select" the worst president we ever had in 2000

    January 25, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    "Let me remind you all again that releasing tax returns is not a requirement to be President of the United States."

    A lot of things aren't "required". Debates aren't required. Public declarations of patriotism aren't required. Candidates are not required to announce their positions on any particular issue. But good luck getting elected if you don't. To add to R-Money's whiny elitist hypocrisy, it was his own father who set an excellent example of full financial disclosure. Apparently R-Money is not to big on honoring the greatness of his father.

    January 25, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. T'sah From Virginia

    ►Rickles
    @Rudy NYC, why wouldn't you ask to see Newt's tax return from 2005-2009 or tax returns of other candidates. FYI, Santorum and Paul have not released theirs. Everyone is scrutinizing Romney because he is rich. That is unfair. Go ask for Obama's college records and Newt's $37MM agreement with medical companies that allowed him to lobby on their behalf.◄

    The ONLY scrutinizing Romney is getting coming from his own heart. NO ONE faults him for being rich! That's the problem with some who think we dislike richness. I have a problem with someone being RICH, acting like they are “poor” or "regular folks," ONLY because they are running for President. You would NEVER see Romney, ginGRINCH, Santorum and/or Paul in the ghetto, or any other minority neighborhood, "acting" and/or "being" concerned about how they live and how they can help!! Come on now, YOU WON'T, so get that out of your head.

    Furthermore, what does President Obama’s college has to do with being rich? That’s another bandwagon you have to get off of because it does not make or break a man!!!

    Obama 2012!!

    January 25, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  18. Sandy

    I love the way Republicans take advantage of early voting and no ID at some polls, but want to take those things away from everyone else. Nothing ever applies to them!

    January 25, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. International_Bro

    Yes I have to agree with R. I'm not supporting Romney but even I'm not using his tax return as a way to bash him or derive support for or against him, let's not forget the real issues ppl. Vote through logic, not ideaology.

    January 25, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |