Category Archives: turnout

Turnout by County: 2020 Primary, Part Three

By Adam Pagnucco.

In Part One, we looked at overall turnout rate by county. In Part Two, we examined turnout rate by party. This post compares turnout between 2016 and 2020.

The chart below shows change in turnout rate between the 2016 and 2020 primaries. This one is a bit tricky. The counties in red (Allegany, Anne Arundel and Caroline) allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in 2020 but not in 2016. Therefore, since unaffiliated voters turn out at lower rates than party members, these counties’ turnout change is skewed downward. The counties in green (Cecil, Kent, Saint Mary’s and Worcester) allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in 2016 but not in 2020. Their turnout change is skewed upward.

Throw out the counties which allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in one year but not the other and this trend emerges: the four jurisdictions in which turnout went up the most – Prince George’s, Charles, Baltimore City and Montgomery – are all heavily Democratic and have large populations of color.

Overall, the two parties are headed in different directions.

Statewide Democratic turnout increased from 44.1% in the 2016 primary to 48.7% this year. Every county except Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, Howard and Washington saw increases in the Democratic turnout rate. One might have expected 2016 turnout to be higher among Democrats because Bernie Sanders had not yet dropped out by the time Maryland voted (on April 26). Nevertheless, 2020 primary turnout was higher despite Sanders suspending his campaign months before Maryland’s election day (June 2).

Statewide Republican turnout fell from 46.5% in the 2016 primary to 35.6% this year. Every county in the state saw a decline in Republican turnout. This was probably affected by the fact that the 2016 Republican primary was still semi-competitive when Maryland voted on April 26 whereas the 2020 Republican primary has not been competitive at all.

Overall, the picture of significant turnout increases in majority-black jurisdictions like Prince George’s and Charles counties along with falling Republican turnout across the board should not be encouraging to the GOP. Maryland looks poised to see tons of Democratic voters rushing to the polls (or more likely, the mailbox) to demonstrate their fury against the current occupant of the Oval Office. One wonders how this will affect the various ballot questions and charter amendments across the state, especially the ones in Montgomery County.

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Turnout by County: 2020 Primary, Part Two

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part One showed the overall turnout rate by county in the 2020 primary but that statistic conceals numerous nuances. Today, we will look at turnout by party. Let’s start with the Democrats.

Every Maryland county had higher turnout among Democrats than among voters overall except Cecil, Dorchester and Somerset. Jurisdictions with the lowest Democratic turnout rates tend to be dominated by the GOP.

The chart below shows turnout rate among Republicans.

The most obvious fact here is that statewide turnout among Republicans (35.6%) was significantly lower than among Democrats (48.7%). In fact, in every county except Cecil, Dorchester and Somerset, the turnout rate among Democrats was higher than among Republicans. Granted, with the exception of a contested county executive primary in Cecil County, Republicans don’t have much to vote for because their incumbent president had little primary competition. But something similar could be said for Democrats outside Baltimore City.

The chart below shows turnout rate among unaffiliated voters.

Only 11 counties allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in the 2020 primary. Since Maryland has closed primaries, unaffiliated voters cannot vote in party primaries but they can vote in primaries held for non-partisan offices. Among the counties allowing unaffiliated voters to vote this year, all had non-partisan school board races on the ballot except Washington County, which held non-partisan primaries for municipal offices in the City of Hagerstown.

In Part Three, we will examine change in turnout between 2016 and 2020.

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Turnout by County: 2020 Primary, Part One

By Adam Pagnucco.

The 2020 primary is behind us and the ballots will go out soon for the general election. With few local races going on in the state but a historic presidential election coming, how did Maryland counties do on turnout?

First, let’s look at the final turnout percentage by county in the 2020 presidential primary. Jurisdictions in green had races on the ballot for which unaffiliated people could vote while jurisdictions in blue did not.

It’s not a coincidence that the bottom six counties had non-partisan races on the ballot for which unaffiliated voters could vote. Unaffiliated voters turn out at lower rates than party members, so when they are included in a voting population, the overall turnout rate is skewed downward. Baltimore City’s status as number one is due to the fact that it elects its mayor, comptroller and city council members in presidential years, an unusual practice for local jurisdictions in Maryland.

In Part Two, we will look at turnout by party.

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Top Seventh State Stories, May 2020

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in May ranked by page views.

1. Miscreants Run Wild at Elrich Press Conference
2. MoCo is a Turnout Outlier
3. MoCo’s Nasty School Board Race, Part One
4. MoCo’s Nasty School Board Race, Part Two
5. MoCo’s Nasty School Board Race, Part Three
6. Who Signed the Anti-Austin Letter – and Who Did Not
7. How MoCo Can Balance Public Health and the Economy
8. Turnout Off to Slow Start
9. Campaign Finance Reports, School Board Primary
10. Elrich’s Hidden Tax Hike

For the most part, the leaders reflected the two big stories of the month: MoCo’s mud-splattered school board contest and the county’s low turnout in the primary. (It turns out that despite early data from the State Board of Elections, MoCo probably won’t be last in the state.) Also, the county deserves credit for posting a COVID-19 dashboard just two days after we called for one.

June promises to be another busy month. Thank you for reading Seventh State!

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Updated Turnout: MoCo is Low but not Last

By Adam Pagnucco.

In the days leading up to the primary election, turnout reports from the State Board of Elections consistently showed MoCo as last in the state. Updated numbers released this morning now show MoCo is one of the lower turnout jurisdictions in Maryland but no longer last.

The chart below shows the combined return rate of vote by mail ballots and absentee ballots. (Vote by mail ballots dominate this statistic as 3,485,891 of those were sent to voters while 99,718 absentee ballots were sent to voters statewide.) The state has so far not released turnout counts for election day votes.

MoCo now ranks 21 of 24 jurisdictions in turnout in these two categories. Baltimore City, despite huge problems with late ballots and counting in City Council District 1, ranks first. That’s a testament to city voters who decided Baltimore’s future in this election.

In terms of party splits, MoCo ranked 13th of 24 in Democratic turnout, 23rd of 24 in Republican turnout and 5th in unaffiliated/third party turnout among the 13 jurisdictions that received ballots from those voters.

MoCo was also one of the lower turnout jurisdictions in the 2016 primary as shown in the chart below.

In addition to turnout, another issue is how long it is taking to count ballots. At the moment, the county has received 227,383 in combined vote by mail and absentee ballots along with an indeterminate number of election day ballots. At the moment, 137,060 ballots for president have been counted and 124,764 ballots for at-large school board have been counted. That means the county board of elections has a ways to go before all ballots are counted. The board has scheduled canvasses through June 20.

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Vote, MoCo, Vote!

By Adam Pagnucco.

Just as I reported yesterday and the day before, MoCo’s rate of returning vote-by-mail ballots remains the lowest in the state. The chart below shows return rate by county through May 29.

The data is also bad when looking at party splits. MoCo’s return rate among Democrats (10.2%) is the worst in the state, which had a return rate among Democrats of 19.6%. MoCo’s return rate among Republicans (8.6%) was also the worst in the state, which had a return rate among Republicans of 20.2%. MoCo is one of thirteen counties in which unaffiliated and third party voters vote in presidential primaries. Among those thirteen, MoCo’s return rate among unaffiliated and third party voters was 5.0%, ranking 9th and not much lower than the statewide rate (6.0%).

As if that were not enough, MoCo is also last in return rate of absentee ballots. Even though the state sent 3,488,628 regular ballots to voter addresses, an additional 97,373 absentee ballots were requested and mailed. MoCo’s return rate of absentee ballots was the worst in the state among Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated and third party voters. Here is an interesting fact: despite having about a sixth of the state’s population, MoCo voters requested a third of all absentee ballots in the state.

I’m not going to speculate on what is happening here. But with 4 days to go until election day, MoCo’s abysmal turnout rate has emerged as a consistent trend which has not yet gone away.

In the meantime, if you have received your ballot, don’t let it sit with the bills and junk mail. Fill it out and vote!

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MoCo is a Turnout Outlier

By Adam Pagnucco.

Yesterday, I published turnout data through May 26 showing that MoCo was dead last in Maryland. Today, I am publishing turnout data through May 28 showing the same thing. Folks, with 5 days to go until election day, it’s time to wonder what’s going on.

On May 26, 3.9% of those who received a mail ballot in MoCo were recorded as returning it. The return rate for the state was 14.1%. On May 28, MoCo’s return rate was 6.5%, still lagging the state’s rate of 16.5% and still the last in Maryland.

Compare MoCo to Frederick. On May 26, MoCo’s return rate was 3.9% and Frederick’s was 6.4%. On May 28, MoCo’s return rate was 6.5% and Frederick’s was 11.2%.

Another comparison worth noting is Baltimore City, which was plagued with late mailouts of ballots. The city’s return rate was 12.1% on May 26 and 13.7% on May 28, far higher than MoCo.

It’s worth noting that MoCo had one of the lower turnout rates in the state in the 2016 primary, although it was not at the bottom.

So what’s going on here? It’s a little early to say. Stories of folks getting late ballots or even getting ballots for people no longer living at their address are common on social media here. The county boards of election could also have different processing times for ballots. (David Lublin described how this works earlier today.) Or it could all be a timing fluke and MoCo could wind up in the bottom quarter of turnout, but not be an outlier, as happened four years ago.

If you’re concerned about this, the best thing to do is vote!

In the meantime, we will keep watching this data.

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Turnout Off to Slow Start

By Adam Pagnucco.

Maryland is holding its first-ever mostly vote-by-mail election. The State Board of Elections (SBE) has been mailing ballots to voters for weeks. Voters may mail ballots back to SBE, drop them off at vote centers or vote at the vote centers on election day (June 2).

SBE has had some delays in mailing ballots, especially in Baltimore City and Montgomery County. The fact that the ballots are marked with the wrong date may be an issue for some voters. And since this is the first primarily vote-by-mail election, there may be voters who have not adjusted and anticipate voting at their precincts.

Could the potential problems above have impacted voting? The table below shows ballots sent by SBE and received by SBE by county as of May 26 (yesterday). Also included are turnout rates from the 2016 primary. Turnout is waaaaaaay down – so far. Montgomery County’s turnout rate of 4% is particularly abysmal. But let’s bear in mind that there were still seven days to go until the election when this data was released.

These totals are going to increase in coming days. I’ll issue periodic updates.

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Turnout Way Up in 2018

Prof. Michael McDonald’s United States Election Project has released turnout estimates for 2018. How does turnout compare to the past? How does Maryland compare to its sister states?

VEP v. VAP

McDonald’s estimates are for the voting eligible population (VEP) as opposed to the voting-age population (VAP). The VAP includes non-citizens and disfranchised felons who can’t vote, and excludes expatriates who can.

VEP adjusts VAP for these differences, as the proper way to calculate turnout is voters/VEP, not voters/VAP. The immigration waves over the past few decades mean that failure to adjust leads to serious underestimates of voter turnout.

National Midterm Turnout Very High

As the graph at the top indicates, national turnout regularly rises in presidential elections and drops in midterm elections. But look at 2018. The 49.2% of eligible voters who cast ballots this year is higher than in any midterm since at least 1960.

It’s a full 12.5% higher than turnout in the 2014 elections held just four years ago. Polarization in Congress has been increasing for some time. The injection of Trump into the political scene combined with the continued close division in the country has spurred similarly activated division in the electorate.

How Does Maryland Compare?

At 51.1%, VEP turnout in Maryland was 1.9% higher than in the country as a whole. Maryland ranked 23rd among the 50 states and DC – not too bad for a state with neither a competitive gubernatorial nor senatorial election.

On the other hand, education is highly correlated with turnout, so maybe Maryland doesn’t do so great for such a highly educated state. We rank third among states in terms of the share of residents with college degrees and second based on the share with advanced degrees.

Maryland Turnout Way Up Too

According to McDonald, the estimated 2018 VEP turnout of 51.1% for Maryland is fully 9.1% higher than the VEP turnout of 42.0% in 2014. It not only marks a reversal from the abysmal turnout of four years ago but also a jump 4% higher than the more typical 47% turnout in 2002, 2006, and 2010.

MARYLAND MIDTERM VEP TURNOUT
2002: 46.8%
2006: 47.2%
2010: 46.7%
2014: 42.0%
2018: 51.1%

2020 really ought to be something.

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Maryland is Not Texas: Final Early Voting Age Stats

The above table shows the final statewide Maryland early vote broken down by age cohort for 2018.Older voters dominated early voting in absolute and relative terms. Voters 45 and older composed three-quarters of early voters. Democratic early voters skew a bit younger and Republican early voters a bit older.

Interestingly, unaffiliated and minor party voters skewed notably younger than either major party. The two youngest cohorts comprised 31.8% of early voters, as opposed to 23.1% for Democrats and 14.8% for Republicans.

These differences likely reflect differences in the age composition of the pool of registered Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. It has been a long-time trend for newer voters to be less inclined to register with a party but I’d like to confirm that this national trend applies to Maryland registrants.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats dominated early voting in all cohorts with some variations. Interestingly, Dems were a smaller share of 45-64 early voters than either 25-44 or 65 and older voters.

The real difference, however, are between the share of Republicans and unaffiliated early voters. The share of Republicans among early voters is about 10% lower in the two youngest cohorts compared to the two older cohorts. In contrast, unaffiliated and minor party registrants were a greater share among the younger cohorts.

The final data verify my earlier conclusions that there is no real sign of a youth wave in Maryland. The above table shows estimated rates of early voting among the general population by age. In Texas, early voting among the young was up at far higher rates than in Maryland. Additionally, young Texans increased early voting by more than  older Texas. Not here.

Consider that voting among the youngest cohort increased 2.9% from 2014 while it was up 5.0% among 24-44 year olds, 8.8% among 45-64 year olds, and 14.3% among 65 and older. Similarly, the fall off from 2016 was greater among the young. Among 18-24 year olds, 2018 turnout was 56% of 2016 turnout. In contrast, for 25-44 year olds the equivalent figure is 59%. For 45-64 year olds, it’s 73%, and for the 65 and older crowd, it’s an incredible 98%.

Early voting provides no sign of a youthful blue wave. We’ll have to see what the electorate looks at the end of Election Day. But the current bottom line is that changes in early voting look a lot different in Maryland than in states like Texas.

The good news for Democrats is that early voting was way up in 2018. Some contend that this merely reflects the general trend towards more early voting. However, the jumps from 2012 to 2016 and 2014 to 2018 have one key factor in common: the incredible polarization that Donal Trump brings to politics.

My expectation remains that, even though the electorate in 2018 may not be quite as favorable to Democrats as in 2016, the electorate this year will look a lot more like 2016 – a good year for Democrats – than 2014 – a good year for Republicans.

(Written hurriedly. Please excuse inevitable typos and other errors.)

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