Early voting is underway, and voters across the country are breaking records. More than five million people have already voted, in some places at rates competitive with presidential election years.
According to a US News and World Report story Monday, voters in Indiana, deciding a tight Senate race, have cast ballots on pace with early voting for the 2016 election. In Minnesota, early voters have outpaced the early vote in 2016.
US News and World Report also wrote Monday that in Georgia, which features one of the tightest gubernatorial races in the county, people are voting at three times the rate of the 2014 midterms.
The enthusiasm is palpable at early voting locations across the country, according to local media. In Florida, the opening of an early voting station at Miami Dade College inspired a “pep rally-like scene” Monday, with students wearing red, white, and blue tutus and cheering as first-time voters cast their ballot.
The excitement at Miami Dade comes after a court ruling banning early voting on campuses was overturned earlier this year, resulting in the establishment of early voting centers at Miami Dade and Florida International University, which, according to WLRN, serve some of the largest populations of Hispanic students in the country.
— Kalyn Norwood (@KalynNorwood) October 22, 2018
Early voting also began Monday in Texas, and in less than six hours, voters in El Paso set a record for the most ballots cast in a single day of early voting, with more than 36,000 votes cast.
El Paso wasn’t the only place with high turnout Monday.
“We had a line at the elections office all day,” Midland County Election Administrator Deborah Land told The Texas Tribune. “Most of the time it was extending down the hallway.”
Turnout in Clark County, Nevada has been record-breaking as well. Over the weekend, according to Las Vegas Now, over 30,000 people voted on Saturday, the first day of early voting, shattering other midterm records by more than 10,000 votes.
While high turnout has historically been a good sign for Democratic candidates, it’s unwise to try to draw any conclusions about what high early voter turnout will mean for the results of these races.
The only thing it tells us, as University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald told US News and World Report, is that turnout is likely to spike. He predicts between 45 and 55 percent of eligible voters will vote this year. In 2014, as US News and World Report noted, voter turnout was at just 37 percent.
“You’d have to go back to the founding of the country to see presidential turnout rates during midterm elections,” McDonald said. “In some states, it’s possible, if the trajectory holds up.”
People who voted early have offered different explanations for why they’ve turned out.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in this election and there’s no better way for voters to get out and express their voice in the community than to come out and vote,” Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria told Las Vegas Now.
With the possibility of taking back the House on the line, polls have found that Democrats are incredibly enthusiastic about the midterms. In the days leading up to Election Day, however, President Trump and the GOP are making a closing argument similar to the one they made in 2016, stoking racial divisions and touting a “middle class tax cut” with no basis in reality.