California Voter Turnout: 2008 vs 2016

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:

Total Registered/Voted Percent
2008 2016 % change 2008 2016 point change
Registered Voters 723661 784130 108.36%
Precinct Turnout 229094 108609 47.41% 31.66% 13.85% -17.81%
Vote by Mail Turnout 147520 133884 90.76% 20.39% 17.07% -3.32%
Total Turnout 376614 242493 64.39% 52.04% 30.93% -21.11%
Registered Democratic 273804 303592 110.88%
Precinct Turnout 108386 55061 50.80% 39.59% 18.14% -21.45%
Vote by Mail Turnout 60845 58983 96.94% 22.22% 19.43% -2.79%
Total Turnout 169231 114044 67.39% 61.81% 37.56% -24.25%
Registered Nonpartisan 124605 178352 143.13%
Precinct Turnout 11964 2756 23.04% 9.60% 1.55% -8.05%
Vote by Mail Turnout 12514 10919 87.25% 10.04% 6.12% -3.92%
Total Turnout 24478 13675 55.87% 19.64% 7.67% -11.97%
Nonpartisan Democratic (Crossover)
Precinct Turnout 14130 10429 73.81% 11.34% 5.85% -5.49%
Vote by Mail Turnout 709 3732 526.38% 0.57% 2.09% 1.52%
Total Turnout 14839 14161 95.43% 11.91% 7.94% -3.97%
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.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s