Tag Archives: turnout

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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MoCo Democratic Turnout: Precinct Results

By Adam Pagnucco.

Data Christmas has arrived as precinct results from the primary are now available from the State Board of Elections! We have been busy crunching them and will now begin rolling them out for our beloved readers.  Let’s start today with turnout among MoCo Democrats.

Overall, MoCo Democratic turnout was 35% in the 2018 primary, higher than the state average of 29%.  MoCo ranked second to Talbot County among the state’s 24 jurisdictions on this measure.  MoCo’s rate of 35% was higher than it was in 2010 and 2014 (26% each time) but lower than 2006 (40%) and 2002 (45%).  Still, being second in the state after being in the middle of the pack in the last two gubernatorial cycles is a good thing for MoCo.

Looking inside the county, there were vast differences in Democratic turnout between local areas.  Here are the five highest rates and the five lowest.

Highest Democratic Turnout Rates

Leisure World: 52%

Chevy Chase: 49%

Cabin John: 47%

Kensington: 45%

Takoma Park and Bethesda: 44%

Lowest Democratic Turnout Rates

Burtonsville and Damascus: 28%

Montgomery Village: 27%

Clarksburg: 27%

Germantown: 26%

Glenmont/Norbeck: 24%

These differences were reflected in state legislative and council districts.  Council District 1 led with 45% while Council District 2 was last with 28%.  State Legislative District 16 led with 44% while District 39 was last with 26%.  In the Democratic Crescent – the areas inside and near the Beltway that sent Jamie Raskin to Congress – turnout was 44%.  That compares to turnout rates of 29% in Upcounty and 34% in the rest of the county.

In precincts where support for term limits in 2016 was less than 65%, turnout was 42%.  In precincts where support for term limits was more than 80%, turnout was 31%.  This suggests confirmation of a post we wrote before the primary: Democrats who voted for term limits were less likely to vote in the primary.

Another factor that stands out is the differences among precincts based on their racial composition.  We have been matching precincts to racial data from Census tracts since the 2006 cycle.  (We have redone this numerous times since then to accommodate the 2010 Census and shifting precinct borders.)  Among majority white precincts, Democratic turnout was 41% and turnout rose as white percentage increased.  Among “majority minority” precincts, Democratic turnout was 29% and that rate fell as the white percentage declined.  Precincts that were more than 33% Latino had a combined turnout rate of 26%.

We show the full splits below.

These patterns of higher turnout in white areas, wealthy areas and the Democratic Crescent and lower turnout in Upcounty, areas with lots of people of color and lower income areas had a powerful impact on the races for Governor, County Executive and County Council At-Large.  We will begin looking at those races soon.

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Diving Into Virginia Results Reveals Depth of Republican Woes

Examining data more closely suggests strongly that Democrats were more energized than Republicans in 2017. The above graph shows changes in turnout from 2016 to 2017 as it relates to the share of a county or independent city that voted for Democratic Ralph Northam as a share of the two-party vote. In general, the more a place voted for Northam, the smaller the decline in turnout from the presidential election.

Analysis of the Virginia results does not suggest a bright future for Republicans. Democrats are doing well in fast-growing places and Republicans in shrinking places. This first map shows which counties are growing fastest.

Source: Cooper Center.

Suburban areas continue to show strong growth. In the DC suburbs, Loudoun and Prince William Counties, along with Alexandria and Arlington are on pace for greater than 10% growth.  The same is true in the Richmond, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg areas, as well as Chesapeake and Suffolk Counties outside of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Slow growth areas are centered in more rural Appalachian and Southside Virginia.

Next up, a map that shows where Northam and Gillespie each made gains relative to 2013.

Source: Washington Post.

Notice that the blue is concentrated primarily in almost the exact same fast-growing areas. In contrast, places with declining industries where people leave are trending Republican. Not too surprising when one considers that the Trump coalition was based on people who fear change and look to the future with foreboding.

It is a fascinating shift, however, as Republicans used to do incredibly well in precisely the sort of exurbs that are among the fastest growing places in the state. Twenty years ago, no one would have imagined that places like Henrico (Richmond suburbs) along with Prince William and Loudoun would anchor Democratic victories. Indeed, Republicans once expected growth in these areas to carry them to power. Not any more.

The shifts are even more dismal if one compares 2017 to the presidential election:

Source: New York Times.

 

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Maryland Democrats’ White Problem

In the above table, I’ve collected exit polls from past presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial elections in Maryland. If exit polls were unavailable, I used pre-election surveys.

Mac Mathias was the last Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in Maryland in 1980. No Republican presidential candidate has carried Maryland since George H.W. Bush in 1988. On the other hand, Republicans managed to win the governor’s mansion twice since 2000. Bob Ehrlich’s 2002 victory broke the long Democratic streak since Spiro Agnew’s fluke election in 1966.

No Democratic winner fell below the 39% gained by Ben Cardin in his successful 2012 reelection bid. In both gubernatorial elections won by Republicans, the Democratic share of the white vote fell dramatically. In 2002, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend won an estimated 34% of white voters.

Anthony Brown performed even more poorly with just 31% in 2014. Towards the close of the 2014 campaign, I estimated that Brown realistically needed a maximum of 37% white support in order to capture the governor’s office.

Lower levels of white support result from two factors: defection and abstention. Put another way, some normally Democratic white voters switched to the Republican in these races. Additionally, others either didn’t vote or sat out these contests.

Since the 2016 election, much of the discussion has focused on the need to increase Democratic turnout, especially non-white turnout and especially in midterm elections. For Democrats, these are good goals, if only because the share of the white vote needed to win declines if more non-white, primarily African American but also Asian and Latino, Democrats vote.

At the same time, the 2016 elections also show the limits of relying solely on non-white voters. Turnout nationally among Latinos and Asians rose and by more than white turnout. African-American turnout declined from the historic levels seen when Barack Obama was at the top of the ticket.

Nevertheless, the task of winning the governor’s mansion would be a lot easier if Democrats can win back a higher share of the white vote by preventing both defections and abstentions. Even with higher minority turnout, it would have been hard for Anthony Brown to win without increasing white support.

The implications extend beyond gubernatorial elections. The retention of not so much control but dominant majorities in the General Assembly depends on receiving enough white voters. Losing more white votes means, for example, losing Senate seats that are critical to invoking cloture for legislation favored by Democrats and their ability to override Gov. Hogan’s veto.

I’m not saying that Democrats should take minority voters for granted. No political party should ever take anyone’s vote for granted, and I expect Hogan to look to increase his non-white support in 2018. But Maryland Democrats cannot repeat their 2014 hemorrhage in white support if they want to defeat Hogan.

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CD4 Target Demographics

Today, 7S looks at the likely demographic composition of the electorate in the Fourth Congressional District. Many thanks to my anonymous reader who has so helpfully shared these statistics with me. The first table shows the share registered Democrats in CD 4 broken down by (1) race and gender, (2) race and age cohort, and (3) gender and age cohort.

CD4 race age genderThe second table presents the same three demographic breakdowns but for voters who participated in two of the last four Democratic primaries. Close examination of the data reveals key differences between the makeup of the potential electorate of registered Democrats and likely voters, defined here as those who have voted in two of the last four primaries.

CD4 race age gender 2 of 4

Race and Ethnicity

First, African Americans will form an overwhelming share of the electorate as they comprise 77.3% of registered Democrats and 75.3% of likely voters.

Latino form 3.5% of registered Democrats but this growing demographic punches below its weight, as Latinos composed just 1.6% of likely voters. However, Latino voter turnout has been steadily increasing, so the turnout over the past four primaries may well underestimate the share of Latinos who will vote in the 2016 Democratic primary.

In contrast, Whites, listed in the table as Caucasians, vote a high rates. They form 17.4% of registered Democrats but 22.2% of likely Democratic primary voters. So far, all of the candidates who are still in the mix for the race are African American. An ability to attract white voters will aid a candidate’s campaign greatly.

Voters would do well to remember that Rep. Al Wynn won this seat originally through his biracial appeal. He came in second in both Prince George’s and Montgomery but defeated a black candidate with support centered in Prince George’s and a white candidate with support primarily in Montgomery.

Similarly, support from whites and Latinos in Montgomery played a critical role in Rep. Donna Edwards’ successful primary challenge to Rep. Al Wynn. In short, candidates who can combine significant black and white support tend to be formidable.

Gender

Women are an impressive 58.9% of registered Democrats but an astounding 64.6% of primary voters. At nearly two-thirds of likely voters, expect candidates to spend a lot of time at events that attract especially high numbers of women.

Candidates will also work hard to identify concerns that can attract a disproportionate share of their votes. No group or gender is monolithic in its voting behavior but some issues resonate with greater effect with women than men.

Race, Gender, and Age

Older voters participate at much higher rates than younger voters in Democratic primaries. Consider than 26.7% of registered Democrats but 52.6% of likely voters are over age 60. If voters wonder why they hear candidates talk a lot more about social security and health care than education, now they know.

African Americans over 60 form 37.7% of the electorate. African Americans over 50 are 56.7% of the electorate. Black women compose the bulk of these voters because (1) women register disproportionately as Democrats, and (2) the gender breakdown of population skews more female among older people.

In the overall population aged 20 to 60, there are roughly 1.03 women for every man among the civilian non-institutionalized population. Those numbers rise dramatically for older people. There are 1.22 women for each man in the over 60 population. That ratio rises to 1.26 for the over 65s and 1.35 for the over 70s.

Older people, especially older women, will play a disproportionate role among white voters too. Likely voters aged 60 and older form 62.0% of white voters. Again, expect these voters to be disproportionately female.

Key Demographics

Likely voters tend to be Black, older, and female. While every individual voter counts and matters, older Black women will be the central force in the Democratic primary for CD 4.

Whites, particularly older White women, can potentially play a pivotal role, as they form over one-fifth of likely voters. Expect all candidates to court this group. Black voters often play a similar role in Democratic primaries in white majority areas.

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CD8: Where are the Voters?

Building on Adam Pagnucco’s analysis from yesterday, I thought it would be great to delve into voter turnout in past Democratic primaries within the Eighth Congressional District. My gratitude to the reader who provided me with this extremely interesting registration and turnout data.

Registered Democrats by State Legislative District

So where do registered Democrats live and which ones are more likely to vote? The first table shows the current number of registered Democrats along with past primary turnout broken down by state legislative district. Note that the data include only the portion of state legislative districts within CD 8.

TO1 Past VH x SHD

D16 holds 19.8% of registered Democrats and an even higher share of actual voters. In Democratic primaries from 2008 through 2014, D16 residents formed at least 21.0% and as much as 22.2% of voters. D16 is the most highly educated district in Maryland–and quite possibly the country–and studies show that education is more strongly related to voter turnout than any other factor. These numbers should encourage Del. Ariana Kelly.

In contrast, these numbers are less favorable to Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20). Though D20 is chock-a-block with registered Democrats, not all of D20 is in CD8. As a result, D20 is home to just 16.9% of registered Democrats in the Eighth, probably less than many expect though still high.

Moreover, turnout within the D20 portions of CD8 is erratic. In 2014, D20 Democrats voted at a relatively high rate in the primary and constituted 17.6% of CD 8 Democratic primary voters. But their share in the district never exceeded 15.8% in the Democratic party primaries held from 2008 through 2012.

The second biggest stronghold of potential Democratic primary voters in CD 8 is D18, as it is home to 18.8% of all of registered Democrats. Turnout effects are smaller than in D16 or D20 with the share of D18 Democrats among all of the Eighth’s primary voters ranging from just 18.2% to 19.6%.

Del. Kumar Barve (D-17) suffers not only from the split in his district between the Sixth and Eighth Congressional Districts but the relative paucity of Democrats. Barve currently represents just 8.5% of the Eighth’s registered Democrats. They also tend to under perform on primary day, as their share of CD 8 voters ranged from 7.7% to 8.2% in the past four Democratic primaries.

Finally, it is worth noting that 17.9% of registered Democrats living in the Eighth don’t live in Montgomery County, so candidates will want to spend time and advertise in these areas. Fortunately for candidates, only around 8% of registered Democrats live in Carroll County, located in the Baltimore media market.

The rest live in the very expensive Washington media market where the vast majority of viewers are not registered Democrats living in the Eighth District. Less pricey social media will be extremely popular this year. But candidates cannot forget traditional media, as the primary electorate skews very old.

Registered Democrats by State Legislative and County Council Districts

The second table breaks down the share of registered Democrats by state legislative district and county council district:

TO2 Dem RV x SHD x County Council

Montgomery Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1) represents 26.9% of CD 8’s Democrats but he has declined to enter the race. However, Montgomery County District 5 holds 22.5% of registered Democrats in the Eighth–a higher share than any state legislative district. Rumored congressional candidate and former Councilmember Valerie Ervin represented a slightly differently configured version of District 5.

At-Large Montgomery Councilmember Nancy Floreen has publicly mused about a run for Congress. She represents 81.8% of registered Democrats in CD 8, an overlap that any other of the rumored candidates would envy. But, as Adam pointed out, she has only run in the multimember at-large district, so the congressional race would be a different. Nevertheless, Floreen likely starts with higher name recognition than other candidates.

Likely Voters by State Legislative and County Council Districts

The final table breaks down the share of Democrats who voted in at least two of the past four primaries by state legislative district and county council district:

TO3 Dem 2 of 4 x SHD x County Council

Interestingly, this table reveals that D16 holds more people who are likely to vote in the primary than Council District 5. The high rates of turnout among D16 residents would bring Del. Kelly to parity with former Councilmember Ervin in terms of likely voters previously represented even though Ervin represented far more people.

Turnout only accentuates the Montgomery tilt of CD 8, as it is home to 82.5% of people who voted in at least one-half of the past four primaries. Among the remainder, 10.1% live in Frederick County as compared to 7.4% in Carroll County.

Based on this table, the most desirable pieces of real estate to have represented before in terms of Democratic primary turnout are:

1. Montgomery County (Floreen)
2. Montgomery County Council District 1
3. State Legislative District 16 (Kelly)
4. Montgomery County Council District 5 (Ervin)
5. State Legislative District 18
6. Montgomery County Council District 4
7. State Legislative District 20 (Raskin)
8. Montgomery County Council District 3
9. State Legislative District 19
10. Frederick County
11. State Legislative District 4
12. State Legislative District 17 (Barve)

Still, as Adam points out, all candidates have a lot of work to do to get known to most voters. Floreen and Kelly, who represent the most voters, have run only in multi-candidate contests. Other candidates have good bases but have run only in lower visibility races and in a portion of CD 8.

The keys to a good campaign remain the same: message, money, volunteers, and organization. Candidates need to have a message to sell to voters. They need money to pay for media to get it across and volunteers to spread the word and help canvass. But none of it matters if the candidate cannot run a a good strategic campaign.

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