By Larry Levine –
Political Data Inc. has been providing daily reports of the number of ballots received in elections offices statewide in California. These are based on what registrars of voters throughout the state have received, processed and reported to the Secretary of State. No votes have been counted and won’t be until the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
There are some interesting things to consider when looking at today’s report.
As of this morning, only 20 percent of the registered 16,067,700 voters who had received ballots in the mail had returned them. 44.17 percent of those are Democrats; 35.7 percent are Republicans; 20.1 are independents.
Perhaps more telling is the fact that 20 percent of registered Democrats had returned ballots, while 30 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of independents had. Conventional wisdom among political pros is the slow rate of returned Democratic ballots is due to voters waiting so see what happened in South Carolina before deciding for whom they would vote. If that is true, then former Vice President Joe Biden may be sitting pretty, the thought being that a Sen. Bernie Sanders voter would not have waited.
Here’s some more stuff to chew on:
Early voting among those 65 or older has been 39 percent, but that very likely reflects the higher Republican participation. If that is true, then it’s a plus for Biden, who has been running extremely well among these older voters in earlier contests. Further indication of a possible benefit to Biden is the fact that just 22 percent of voters between 50 and 64 have participated to date and that too would be influenced by the heavier Republican balloting.
On the other end of the spectrum are the 18-34 year olds. Just 9 percent of this group has voted and that may not portend well for Sen. Bernie Sanders. This is the lowest voting group in any election and it is the group among which Sanders has run best. Most political pros don’t believe this group will have a larger than normal Election Day turnout, even with a substantial Sanders get-out-the-vote operation. Part of this is based on historic turnout data and part on changes to how and where people can vote.
As for ethnicity, only 17 percent of African Americans have voted. This once substantial portion of the Democratic electorate now accounts for just 3.18 percent of the registration. It’s anybody’s guess as to how African Americans will tip in California. Early TV commercials in which former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg linked himself to President Obama may have earned him a chunk of the early vote, but the South Carolina result could sway things toward Biden on Election Day.
Just 12 percent of the sizable Latino registration had been reported as of this morning. Sanders has been running stronger among Latinos in other states and he has made a big push for Latino votes in California. As of this morning, there were 3,459,173 Latino ballots and 426,563 African American ballots statewide that had not been cast. Insiders will tell you Latino voter turnout as a percentage usually trails that of African Americans. But with 3 million more uncast Latino ballots going into Election Day, Sanders has a lot of room for slippage.
Sanders had a substantial lead in polls in California last week, before South Carolina and before three other Democrats dropped out of the race. All of this could add up to the result in California hinging on the quality and success of the Sanders get-out-the-vote effort in Latino communities.