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Those who didn't vote in 2016 are showing up early in droves — and more are Democrats

It's a good sign for Biden. But Trump is expected to see a GOP surge on Election Day.
Image: Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Campaigns In Georgia
Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in campaign rally in Atlanta on Tuesday.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

With early voting totals smashing records on a daily basis, Democrats are leading with a key constituency — those who did not, or could not, vote in 2016.

So far, more than 20 percent of the early vote nationwide has come from these voters, according to data from the NBC News Decision Desk/TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm.

With 77 million having already cast early votes — a number that the Decision Desk projects could hit 100 million by Tuesday's election — more than 17.5 million of them have come from people who passed on voting in 2016 or were not yet eligible to vote.

Among those 17.5 million voters, Democrats hold a nearly 2 million vote advantage over Republicans, with roughly 7.5 million votes coming from registered Democrats and 5.5 million from registered Republicans, according to the Decision Desk/TargetSmart. An additional 4.46 million came from independents who did not vote in 2016.

Polls show independents overall breaking toward 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who holds a large polling lead with early voters in key states, while President Donald Trump maintains a significant advantage among those who have yet to vote.

"While early vote turnout has shattered all records, the most meaningful statistic is the number of ballots cast by voters who didn't turn out in 2016," TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier, a veteran Democratic strategist, said. "These are the voters who will determine how the 2020 electorate differs from Trump's winning coalition in 2016."

"These surge voters are younger, more diverse, and more likely to vote Democratic," he added. "That's all a good sign for Joe Biden, at this point, though this electorate continues to be highly dynamic and Republicans are counting on a surge on Election Day."

More than 26 percent of these new or nonvoters skew younger, between 18-29 years old, with a good chunk coming from the youngest in that group who are voting in their first election. Polling shows that age group is Biden's best demographic and has the highest percentage of voters who said they planned to cast an early ballot.

But it's not just young voters. More than 22 percent comes from voters between 50-64 while seniors account for another 20 percent.

Democrats are leading with this key demographic in several critical swing states, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the Decision Desk/Target Smart. Republicans maintain a slim advantage in Georgia and larger leads in Ohio and Texas.

The state with the most eye-opening totals is Pennsylvania — one of the most pivotal states in the 2020 election and where Biden and Trump have duked it out for months.

More than 331,000 registered Democrats in the state who did not or could not vote in 2016 have cast ballots so far, compared with just more than 95,000 Republicans. Another 78,000-plus of these voters who are unaffiliated with either party have voted there, too.