Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Council At-Large Geography, Part Two

Today, we look at turnout in the 2006 primary and ponder how it might be different this year.

Following is 2006 primary turnout for all voters casting ballots at precincts. Our statistics are limited by the fact that precinct-level turnout data includes members of all parties and excludes absentee and provisional voters. For the record, while total precinct turnout was 24.0% for the county as a whole, Democratic turnout (including absentees and provisionals) was 40.0% and Republican turnout (again including absentees and provisionals) was 19.0%. So the chief value in the statistics below is comparative.

A few notes.

1. The high turnout rates in Takoma Park (32.1%), Downtown Silver Spring (29.3%), State Legislative District 20 (28.7%) and Council District 5 (28.2%) are likely a product of the intense Jamie Raskin-Ida Ruben Senate race. Raskin is running unopposed this year as is District 5 County Council Member Valerie Ervin so these turnout rates are likely to decline.

2. About one-quarter of all cards cast in the election came from Council District 1, which includes Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac. If Council District 5’s turnout goes down, Council District 1 will be even more important.

3. Upcounty’s Council District 2 had the poorest turnout rate (17.9%). Will its rate go up due to its contested council primary?

4. Gaithersburg’s turnout rate (18.9%) was also well below the county average. Will the debate over the Gaithersburg West Master Plan cause its turnout to increase?

5. Districts 14, 17, 19 and 39 have marquee Senate races and District 16 has a chaotic, loaded House race. Will that affect any of their turnout rates? Other than District 16, these districts are not based in Downcounty where turnout is usually higher. Will this change the mix for the at-large race?

As you can see, despite possessing reams of data, we have more questions than answers on turnout. The only thing we know for sure is that the geographic distribution of turnout will have a large impact on the at-large council results, and no one knows for sure how that will play out.

In Part Three, we’ll look at the Apple Ballot.