Cal­i­for­nia midterm voter turnout tops 64 per­cent

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY KATHLEEN RON­AYNE

SACRA­MENTO

Cal­i­for­nia’s voter turnout in the Novem­ber elec­tion topped 64 per­cent, the high­est midterm turnout in sev­eral decades, ac­cord­ing to county vote to­tals col­lected by the Sec­re­tary of State.

Fri­day was the dead­line for coun­ties to fin­ish count­ing bal­lots, but the sec­re­tary of state has un­til Dec. 14 to cer­tify the re­sults. The Leg­is­la­ture has al­ready sworn in new mem­bers.

Here’s a look at some of the de­tails:

US HOUSE

The fi­nal to­tals con­firmed Demo­crat TJ Cox’s up­set vic­tory for U.S. House against Repub­li­can in­cum­bent David Val­adao in the Cen­tral Val­ley’s 21st Con­gres­sional District. Cox de­clared vic­tory last week, but Val­adao didn’t con­cede un­til Thurs­day.

That makes Cox the sev­enth Demo­crat to flip a seat long held by Repub­li­cans. The Democrats picked up two Cen­tral Val­ley seats, four seats that spanned all or parts of Orange County and one seat in Los An­ge­les County. Repub­li­cans now hold just seven of Cal­i­for­nia’s 53 U.S. House seats.

Democrats tar­geted seven seats that Hil­lary Clin­ton won in the pres­i­den­tial race but Repub­li­cans held onto in 2016.

THE NUM­BERS

Nearly 12.7 Cal­i­for­ni­ans, out of nearly 19.7 reg­is­tered vot­ers, cast bal­lots.

Many Cal­i­for­ni­ans cast bal­lots by mail, and the state gives coun­ties 30 days after the elec­tion to count them.

This year’s turnout was the state’s high­est in a midterm year since 1982, when turnout topped 69 per­cent. But the 2018 turnout still fell be­low pres­i­den­tial years, when more than 70 per­cent of reg­is­tered Cal­i­for­ni­ans typ­i­cally vote.

Turnout was 70 per­cent in Orange County, the cen­tral bat­tle­ground. Los An­ge­les County, mean­while, had one of the low­est turnouts at 57 per­cent.

Data ex­pert Paul Mitchell said he doesn’t con­sider the 64 per­cent turnout sig­nif­i­cantly higher than most midterm elec­tions. The last midterm elec­tion, in 2014, was a record bad year with turnout less than 50 per­cent.

WHAT'S STILL UN­KNOWN

The vote to­tals sub­mit­ted to the sec­re­tary of state don’t in­clude a de­mo­graphic break­down or other in­for­ma­tion about which par­tic­u­lar vot­ers cast bal­lots. It doesn’t show, for ex­am­ple, what per­cent­age of Repub­li­cans and Democrats turned out in each county, or how many Lati­nos or young vot­ers did so.

That in­for­ma­tion will be crit­i­cal to fur­ther an­a­lyz­ing the re­sults, said Mitchell, vice pres­i­dent of Po­lit­i­cal Data Inc., a Cal­i­for­nia data firm that works with can­di­dates in both par­ties.

Mitchell said its no­table Democrats were more suc­cess­ful in U.S. House races than in the 2016 elec­tion, when voter turnout was higher.

“That means we’re po­ten­tially not at high tide yet,” he said, re­fer­ring to Democrats’ po­ten­tial suc­cess in fu­ture elec­tions.

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