First, looking at the requests by voters for mail-in ballots for 2014 and what 2018 is showing at 53 days out from Election Day:
(Note: in order to make Excel show the 2018 numbers, I copied the same numbers into day 52).
What is interesting is:
- in 2014, with a competitive U.S. Senate race topping the ballot, registered Democrats lead in mail-in ballot requests up until the 24th day prior to Election Day, when registered Republican requests took the lead and didn't relent until Election Day.
- in 2018, with no major state-wide race and the focus on congressional contests, both registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters are over their 2014 mail-in request numbers, while registered Republicans are under their 2014 numbers.
To give a sense of the differences in congressional districts and the leading Democratic votes coming in, the following graph shows that the largest number of Democratic mail-in requests are in the open 9th District, a competitive district, following by the safe Democratic 4th District:
Only 12 mail-in ballots have been accepted so far in 2018, compared to 89 on this same day before Election Day. Below is the full comparison leading up to Election Day of accepted mail-in ballots:
Again, it is important to note two things: first, that caution should be exercised to not over-interpret the numbers of requests so far by party registration, and second, that we won't know what the results are from these mail-in accepted ballots until election evening when the polls close. But voter energy and enthusiasm may be demonstrated by how many registered partisans (and unaffiliated voters) request and return mail-in ballots, along with showing up to vote by absentee in-person voting, which starts on October 17, leading into the November 6 Election Day.