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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Florida\'s Voter Registration Statistics

As Florida's highly coveted voters began going to the polls on Saturday for the first day of in-person early voting at sites across the state, the state released new voter registration statistics that provided reasons for optimism and pessimism for both the Romney and Obama campaigns.

Democrats still hold an edge over Republicans in registered voters, but it is smaller than it was four years ago, when President Obama won the state. The Democratic advantage is now 535,897, down from 657,775 in 2008. There are 11.9 million registered voters in the state.

The biggest question mark this year will be the voters unaffiliated with either party: there are now nearly 2.6 million of them, a jump of 469,782 from four years ago.

The state now has 304,804 more Hispanic voters than it did four years ago, 166,024 more white voters, and 151,387 more black voters, according to the registration statistics.

There are two ways to vote earl y in Florida: by absentee ballot, and in person. Absentee ballots are usually mailed in, and tend to benefit Republicans. Through Friday the state had received 1,129,161 returned absentee ballots, according to the secretary of state's office.

Republican voters sent in 503,625, Democrats sent in 442,860 and other voters sent in 182,676. Democrats hope to mobilize a big in-person turnout.

Follow Michael Cooper on Twitter at @coopnytimes.