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Florida's Early Vote Bus Tour

Election Day is just days away, but three million Floridians have already voted.

Just under half of them have mailed in their ballots, and while Republicans are used to having a big advantage there...the numbers show Democrats are closing the gap.

That could be a big reason two GOP state officials are taking a two-day bus tour aimed at encouraging more Republicans to early vote.

With just over a hundred hours before Election Day, it's a surprise road trip.

Lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll and agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam are gassing up in an attempt to run up the Republican early vote.

Right now, the GOP only has a four point advantage in absentee voting, compared to a double-digit lead in 2008.

Privately, many Republican strategists say that's not good enough to win.

And Putnam, the chair of Mitt Romney’s Florida campaign, says early voting could be an opportunity to rally.

Putnam says, “We know Florida’s a battleground state, we know it's going to be a razor-thin margin, just like we saw in 2000, and we want to drive as many people to the polls in every conceivable form. We want them to show up on Tuesday, we want them to be there for early votes, we want to make sure that we can open that gap back up.”

By phone or by door knock, Republicans have always had an overwhelming advantage in turning out the absentee vote, which is why the numbers this go-around are so surprising.

The early vote bus tour may go a long way toward closing that gap, but democrats are optimistic about their chances.

Right now, they have the lead in early voting.

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux says everything's going according to a plan four years in the making.

Arceneaux says, “We've got, right now, the largest, strongest ground game we've ever had here in Florida, but also the smartest. What we've done over the last four years is really focus on absentee voting in a way that we haven't in 2008 or before.”

But, Republicans point out; they're focusing on early voting in a way they didn't in 2008, cutting the Democratic advantage there in half.

It all means a very tight race, in the vote count and down the highway, as time runs out on the 2012 Campaign.

State Republican Party strategists say even though the party's absentee vote lead has been cut dramatically, more Independents are voting this year.

They think those voters will back Mitt Romney by a wide margin.


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