Early vote tool also features data from New Jersey, Mississippi, and Kentucky

Hi all,

In less than a couple of weeks, voters in Virginia will head to the polls and cast their ballots in a critical off-year election. Money has poured into the state from both Democrats and Republicans as control of the General Assembly hangs in the balance. For Democrats, the elections represent an opportunity to check the power of Governor Youngkin, and ensure that the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and the people of Virginia are protected. 

TargetSmart collects and analyzes a wealth of data about who has already voted and compares it to the early vote electorate in previous cycles. It’s all available to you at TargetEarly.TargetSmart.com. Using TargetEarly, you can compare the 2023 electorate to previous cycles and analyze it by:

  • Geographies like state, county, congressional district, state house and media market;
  • Demographics like age, race, gender or education; and 
  • Vote history, including first-time voters; infrequent voters and more.

Before we get into the trends we’ve observed so far, it’s important to note that early vote in Virginia is still a relatively new phenomenon, especially when comparing the data against previous elections. 

In fact, in 2019, the last election where the State Senate and House of Delegates were up for grabs, early voting was practically non-existent. The 2021 election offers the best baseline comparison, but it’s imperfect, as a highly contested gubernatorial race drove up turnout. And Republican attitudes on early voting have started to shift, as the party has changed its rhetoric from attacking the practice to urging their voters to do it. What does this all mean? Well, it’s still a bit too early to tell. What we do know, however, is that 367,207 ballots have been cast statewide, which is just about 11% of the total number of votes in 2021.

To give you a better sense of the data, we’ve pulled some topline points based on the early returns:

  • Democrats Lead Republicans, but by Smaller Margins than 2021
    • In this election cycle, Republicans in Virginia have made a concerted push to promote early voting, imploring their voters to get out and cast their ballots early – despite the continued criticism of early voting from the MAGA wing of the Party. 
    • Even still, in Senate battleground districts, modeled Democrats currently make up 49.4% of the vote compared to modeled Republicans making up 33.8%. And in House battleground districts, modeled Democrats account for 48.8% of the vote compared to the 35.5% modeled Republicans account for. 
    • This has yielded positive returns for the party, as early vote turnout by modeled Republican voters is up about 3%. 
  • Cause for Concern Among Democrats Statewide 
    • Modeled Democratic turnout in the state is down about 4% from where it was at this point in 2021 (a year that was challenging for Democrats in Virginia).
    • Turnout amongst Modeled Democratic women is down about 3.5% from where it was at this time in 2021. 
    • To that same end, turnout among modeled Republican women is up about 2% over 2021. 
  • Plenty of time (and work to be done) before the election 
    • It’s important to keep in mind that we are still 12 days out from the election and there is plenty of time for Democrats to turn things around in key races. 
    • In many of the elections where Democrats have overperformed since Dobbs, the overall Democratic turnout share has slightly underperformed, relying on both mobilization and persuasion, and this may be an indicator of the same thing happening here in Virginia.
    • Voting habits are changing across the board and younger voters – a key part of the Democratic coalition – are still more likely to turnout on Election Day. 
    • As we near the election, Democrats must continue to get out the vote, highlight what is at stake on abortion rights, civil rights, education and so much more.

Make sure you stay tuned to @TargetSmart to get all the latest data as we approach this all important Election Day!