Close to 100 Million Early Votes Cast, Nearly Three-Quarter of Total 2016 Ballots: US Could Hit ‘Highest Turnout Rate Since 1900’


The 2020 early vote total closed in on the 100 million mark on the eve of Election Day, a stunning number that represents 73 percent of the total 2016 ballots cast and could help push the country to its highest overall voter turnout rate in more than a century.

That last forecast comes courtesy of University of Florida professor and election guru, Michael McDonald, who appeared on CNN’s OutFront on Monday night to discuss the unprecedented early vote turnout. Speaking with host Erin Burnettdiscussed the historic voter response and its possible impact on the 2020 election for President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

“Almost 100 million Americans have cast their ballots at a early or mail-in voting,” Burnett noted, with several hours left to go before Election Day. “That’s already 73%, three quarters of total ballots cast in all of 2016 in all forms, we’re already there.” Calling the overwhelming response an “incredible moment” and counting herself “fortunate to be an American” and watch the turnout, Burnett asked McDonald what he thought the final turnout number might be.

“Looking at the states that party exceeded the 2016 turnout, places like Texas and Hawaii. Other states just on the cusp, they’re going to do it tomorrow, even before they start the voting. Looks like we’ll have a record turn out,” McDonald said.

“I’m guessing, when all is said and done, we’re going to have 160 million people voting in this election, that’s about two-thirds of those eligible to vote, the highest turnout rate since 1900. So kudos for us in very trying times, we’ve managed to hold an election and not just any election, we’ve managed to hold a record-breaking election.”

Burnett noted that 120 years ago, many of those those voting now would’ve been prohibited from exercising the franchise and hailed the record-breaking turnout as something to celebrate, no matter who wins.

She then turned to the political implications of the massive voter response.

“When you look at how this breaks down, 160 million, that means 60 million votes tomorrow,” she pointed out. “The president is betting on those votes being Republicans, right? The president is betting on an all-time record and an extraordinary Republican turn out for him to have a clean win. If you see 160 million ballots cast, as you are projecting is possible, would that turnout be enough for Trump to win re-election?”

“It is going to be tough,” McDonald said of Trump’s chances. “The early vote, over the past couple of decades, has looked very Democratic. This election cycle, we got there in a different way, usually its Democrats voting in person early and Republicans voting by mail. It’s all been flipped around this election cycle. But the electorate, the early electorate looks very similar in partisan character as it has in past elections, which is that Democrats have voted early.”

“Since so many people have voted early, there’s just a smaller pool of Election Day vote,” McDonald pointed out. “So Trump’s going to need that Election Day vote to look very Republican and it has in the past. So he can do it, but it’s a smaller pool for him to fish into. So he’s somehow got to get that pool bigger, even a higher, I believe, record turnout than that 160 million. It’s possible, it’s just very difficult given where we are.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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