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Democrats bank on advance votes in Virginia gubernatorial race – CBS News Analysis

As the early voting deadline in Virginia nears, Democrats have slowly and steadily taken a lead in the gubernatorial race. The big question is whether Republicans will close the gap on election day Tuesday.

More than 700,000 voters have already voted in the Virginia general election, according to the state’s Election Department. That number is about a third of what it was a week before last year’s presidential election. The total number of early votes is on track to reach nearly one million by the end of the election. Most advance ballots are cast in person at early voting centers in Virginia, which are expected to close on Saturday.

Democrats bank on advance votes in Virginia gubernatorial race – CBS News Analysis

While around six in ten Virginians voted before election day last year, that number was far lower before the coronavirus pandemic. Many voters now appear to be returning to election day, when we expect most votes to be cast.

Several Democratic counties were lagging behind their previous share of early votes, but there has been a noticeable increase in recent days. For example, Fairfax and Loudoun – counties near Washington, DC which Joe Biden won hands down – have added around 40,000 and 10,000 votes, respectively, since last week.

Overall, we estimate that the advance ballots received so far represent about a quarter of the total expected votes in the election. That proportion is higher in more democratic areas of the state, which means they will likely have a smaller share of ballots to process on Tuesday. Very Republican counties, on the other hand, are likely to see the lion’s share of their votes cast on election day.

Although we don’t know for sure which party people are voting for, we estimate that Democrats have racked up a lead of around 200,000 votes on the ballots that have already been cast. This estimate comes from a model based on survey responses, voter demographics, and previous riding results matched to voter rolls.

For reference, Joe Biden won the first voters by more than 800,000 votes last year. With early votes dropping this year, Democrats can’t match that performance, but they hope to strengthen their lead as much as possible over the next few days, so that it becomes insurmountable by the time most Republicans head to the polls. .

That said, we have seen an increase in Republican turnout as Election Day approaches, especially at early voting locations. And a wave of Republican voters on election day, like our vote indicates, is possible and could tighten the race considerably, leading to a long election night.


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