By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate
In a strict party-line vote last year, the Democrat-led state legislature opted to push Colorado to a largely mail-in ballot system in an effort to boost voter turnout. While the Republicans, including the secretary of state, opposed the measure due to the burden it would place on county clerks and the postal service, they’re not exactly complaining today.
According to numbers released by the Colorado Secretary of State, nearly 1.4 million votes have already been cast. Of the voters, 41% are registered Republicans, 33% are registered Democrats, and about 26% are unaffiliated. Election officials expect slightly over 2 million votes to be cast by 7 pm Tuesday night.
However, history tells us that these numbers may not be as indicative as Republicans would hope.
2010 Colorado early ballot numbers were nearly identical: of 1.2 million voters who cast early ballots, 40.7% were registered Republicans, 34.6% were registered Democrats and 24% were unaffiliated. Despite the apparent early Republican lead, Democratic candidate (and current Colorado Senator) Michael Bennet went on to defeat Republican candidate Ken Buck by just under 30,000 votes.
And while the polls have given Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Corey Gardner, a slight but consistent lead over the past month, Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Udall still has reason to hope he will hold on to his seat.
Unaffiliated voters commonly cast their ballots later than party-affiliated voters. Additionally, it seems reasonable to assume that a significant amount of younger voters would take advantage of the provision to surrender their mail-in ballots and vote in person at the polls on Tuesday. Both constituencies largely favor Udall in the polls.
In Georgia, early ballot numbers are even less revealing.
Nearly 1 million early ballots were cast in Georgia, up more than 20% from 2010. But without a party registration system in the state, pollsters are left relying largely on demographics.
Coming into Election Day, President Obama and the First Lady often appeared on African-American radio shows, urging the base to get out and vote.
Of the early voters in Georgia, 32.8% were African-Americans—an initial good sign for Democratic candidate for Senate, Michelle Nunn.
However, an exit poll revealed that a majority of these African-Americans were already likely voters, simply opting to cast their votes early.
The poll also revealed that 93% of these early voters were 45 and older.
“It is doubtful that the African-American turnout will continue to be this high, which favors the Republicans, and it’s doubtful that the electorate will skew this old, favoring the Democrats” the pollster Fredrick Hicks said.
While the poll gave Republican candidate for Senate, David Perdue, a slight lead, the race is still neck and neck. The Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford may very well garner just enough votes to force a runoff in January.
We’re gearing up for a long, but lively night here at the Fox News Channel. As exit polls began to trickle in, be sure to tune into FNC at 6 pm as Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly anchor the on-the-ground coverage and in-studio expert analysis of all the battleground races.