Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) - Polls in the Sunshine State don't open until 7 a.m. ET Tuesday, but more than 600,000 people have already voted in Florida's Republican presidential primary.
Early voting began statewide nine days ago, and according to figures released Monday afternoon by the Florida Department of State, which runs the division of elections, 293,760 people have already cast ballots.
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But wait, there's more. According to the state, more than 531,000 people have requested and were sent absentee ballots, and 338,753 have been returned and received by Florida officials.
Add it all together and more than 632,000 votes have already been cast before primary day. To put it in perspective, that's more than the 601,577 who voted in the South Carolina primary, and far outpaces the combined 360,000 that took part in the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses.
It appears the early votes may be helping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who leads former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by double digits in the most recent polls of people likely to vote in the Florida primary. According to an American Research Group survey released Sunday, 36% of people questioned said they already voted, and among those, Romney led Gingrich 51% to 33%.
"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," Alex Castellanos, a GOP strategist and CNN contributor, said last week.
"It may mean that Mitt Romney gets an extra quarter to play for that Gingrich won't, that Romney's won the fifth quarter," added Castellanos, who was a top media adviser for Romney's 2008 nomination bid but who is not taking sides this cycle.
At stake in Tuesday's primary: 50 delegates, the biggest catch so far. And it's winner take all in Florida.
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.
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Go Mitt !!!
Romney wins in Florida, and will be front-runner, but does not and will not win with Obama. Because, his ideology is idiotic and stupid. Bain Capital is stinking smelly stuff no one in the right mind votes for him...sure.
Romney is the only GOPer I could vote for, but lets put it in perspective, I voted Obama last time but feel like a moderate republican can work better with the GOP congress that can lose 24 seats and still have the majority. Romney is clearly not the clearest contrast to Obama, but can the truest conservative be elected? I think as a whole the nation still has a sour taste of W Bush remaining in our mouths. Therefore I am working to elect a moderate who has proven he can work with a democratic majority, and as a republican can certainly work with a republican majority. Lets actually get some things done for America!
I second that vote./
So why'd they even bother with that last debate? Or spending all that money on those last-minute ads? Sounds to me like it's over before it started.
Romney hates and blocks Dream Act. Watch out....
Ron Paul is the best candidate. he is the only person not trying to have Americans suffer austerity to wage war ... we have a huge navy. we don't need to be around the world. bring the army back to the bases at home. revitalize the military cities of America .. and the huge cause and effect of supply and demand is back in America. Soldiers need homes.. etc etc etc.. Vote for America ..i know bombing Cuba into begging for Mountains of aid sounded great. what psycho doesn't want to covertly kill people and have total deniability..
Romney is the Republican version of John Kerry. He's hoping that just by being the not-Obama candidate he can squeak out a win. Kerry almost pulled it but for Ohio.
It isn't a huge surprise. Romney was smarting after South Carolina. He figured that was enough especially after the more final count from Iowa.
"I think as a whole the nation still has a sour taste of W Bush remaining in our mouths. Therefore I am working to elect a moderate who has proven he can work with a democratic majority, and as a republican can certainly work with a republican majority."
Holy cow, are you insane?!? How do you like the way Bush worked with a republican majority? In case you can't recall, it was a disaster for average Americans. And now you endorse the exact same political structure that created the last disaster? America truly is an idiocracy if you can't see the error of your views. Your thinking is that of a domestic violence victim: "Maybe if I give in everything will work out fine." It won't.
Hi Wolf-I watch your show regularly here in Paris,France.To my amazement there is one topic which has never been covered on any political show or debate.Mr.President or Mr.Republican hopeful-DO YOU THINK THINK THE 4 YEAR TERM FOR PRESIDENT SHOULD BE EXTENDED TO 5 YEARS???After all the cost for running is a waste of billions & after 2 years the race is on again-there is no time for a President to pass laws & actually govern.At least in France the French got the term right & reduced the Presidential mandate from 7 to 5 years.