When the Associated Press calls a hotly contested race just one day before the last Super Tuesday primaries of 2016 based entirely on last-minute polling of superdelegates, all in an apparent attempt to scoop the competition, and major stories about voting irregularities are published in the LA Times, at some point you have to stop and ask yourself if this is business as usual, or something deeper.
Since it would be take a very long time to analyze every county’s turnout in the 2016 election, I’ll just use my home county of San Bernardino as a test case. Final results are not due until July 8, 2016, so I will check back and update this piece as needed.
Here are the numbers. Sources:
|2008||2016||% change||2008||2016||point change|
|Vote by Mail Turnout||147520||133884||90.76%||20.39%||17.07%||-3.32%|
|Vote by Mail Turnout||60845||58983||96.94%||22.22%||19.43%||-2.79%|
|Vote by Mail Turnout||12514||10919||87.25%||10.04%||6.12%||-3.92%|
|Nonpartisan Democratic (Crossover)|
|Vote by Mail Turnout||709||3732||526.38%||0.57%||2.09%||1.52%|
|Combined Nonpartisan Turnout||39317||27386||70.80%||31.55%||15.61%||-15.95%|
- The first takeaway from this data is that despite the registered Democratic voter base increasing 110% over 2008, overall turnout on June 7 was only 50% of the 2008 turnout, while vote by mail turnout only decreased slightly at 96%.
- Second, when comparing the numbers between NP-Democratic ballots and NPP ballots, an interesting picture forms. In 2008, total NPP ballots exceeded NP-Democratic ballots by 10,000 votes, but in 2016 the numbers were almost even. Of those, the share of vote-by-mail and precinct votes are like mirror images between NPP and NP-Dem: 10,429 in-person NP-Dem ballots, versus 2,756 NPP ballots; and 3,732 mail-in NP-Dem ballots, versus 10,919 NPP ballots.
This discrepancy between the precinct turnout and vote-by-mail turnout seems like a clear indication that the AP’s premature June 6 call suppressed turnout as many Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters chose to stay home rather than participate.
Finally, we know that the Bernie Sanders campaign has relied heavily on independent voters. Independent registration increased 143% from 2008 levels, and the share of independent voters requesting Democratic ballots went from 37% of participating voters in 2008 to 50% in 2016. Despite this, the total independent turnout rate fell by half, from 31.5% in 2008 to 15.6%.
San Bernardino County still estimates that approximately 95,000 ballots are outstanding and will update the totals on June 9, with further updates to follow.