Voters in District 7th of Virginia wait in line to vote at the Henrico County Registrar's office in Henrico, Virginia on September 18, 2020.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
According to the US election project data released Tuesday afternoon, more than 69 million Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election a week before election day.
A record number of voters have already cast their votes in the race between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden as the coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented demand for mail-in and in-person early voting.
The 2020 early voting has now exceeded the 58 million pre-cast or in-person early voting in 2016, based on the Associated Press totals, and reached over 50% of the 136 million or more total votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.
That's good news, said Michael McDonald, project leader for the US elections and professor at the University of Florida.
"There have been many concerns about the ability of electoral officials to hold elections during a pandemic. Not only do people vote, but they vote over an extended period of time, which spreads the workload on electoral officials," McDonald wrote on the project website.
Democrats still lead Republicans in postal votes for states reporting party data, but GOP voters outperformed Democrats in personally-cast ballots. Of the more than 26 million postal ballot papers returned and tracked by the US election project, registered Democrats sent in 51.3%, compared with 25.5% by Republicans. Of over 7.4 million registered personal votes with party affiliation, Republicans lead 41.7% versus 36.9% Democrats.
Republicans hope that high personal voter turnout can be the advantage of Democrats in postal voting.
"There is still some work to be done on the personal early voting, but time is running out so Republicans will have to rely heavily on the election day vote, which has traditionally been a strong day for the Republican election in the recent election. " "McDonald wrote.
As the deadline for postal voting approaches, more than 30 million requested postal ballots have not been returned, including over 11 million from registered Democrats, the project said.
Texas continues to lead all early polls with a whopping 7.8 million votes as of Tuesday morning – 86.9% of the state's total turnout in 2016. Since the last presidential election, Texas has gained about 1.9 million more registered voters, according to The Texas Tribune.
The state does not currently report party affiliations, but polls suggest the Republican stronghold could be a battlefield in 2020. Real Clear Politics' poll average gives Trump a 3.2 percentage point lead over Biden. In 2016, Trump won Texas against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with 9 points.
The decisive battlefield state of Florida has also seen a high level of voting. More than 6.4 million people in the Sunshine State have cast a ballot that began with an early personal vote in some counties on October 19. Republicans lead 46.4% personal votes to 34.0% of Democrats, while Democrats lead 46.8% absentee votes to 31.0% Republicans. The president himself voted in West Palm Beach on Saturday.
In North Carolina, voters cast far more ballots in person than they do by mail. The state uses a "one-stop" model for early voting, which allows eligible North Carolina residents to register and vote at the same time. More than 2.6 million residents voted personally, while 804,812 voted by post, according to election officials. Democrats lead Republicans in both personal and postal votes in the state.
With election day approaching, young voters will be another group to be seen at the ballot box. Data suggests young people will perform in record numbers this year and could potentially run races in favor of the Democrats.
A national poll of Americans ages 18 to 29 released Monday by the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics found that Biden Trump tops 63% to 25% of the youngest voters most likely to vote.
According to Tufts University, more than 3 million voters between the ages of 18 and 29 cast their votes in the 2020 elections last Wednesday. The number of young voters has far exceeded that of 2016, but experts say that young people are more likely to vote in person and later in the election season.
"We are probably not seeing the biggest impact of the youth election yet. I think you will see that on election day," said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE at Tufts University.
Many variables are unknown in the countdown to November 3rd. Coronavirus waves, bad weather, and long lines can all impact voter turnout on election day.