Monday, January 18, 2010

Dems hold early vote lead

Dems hold early ballot lead

With early voting finished for tomorrow's special supervisor election, Democrats hold a big absentee edge over Republicans. 1898 Democrats, 442 Republicans, and 329 no party voters have returned ballots.

Of course, not every Democratic ballot will be for Janelle Rettig, not every Republican has voted for Lori Cardella, and certainly not every independent voted for Jim Knapp. But party affiliation is the strongest indicator of voting behavior, and these are the only numbers we have to play with until we get turnout reports at 9 AM tomorrow.

Democrats hold roughly a 2.5 to 1 registration edge over Republicans in Johnson County, but their absentee edge is more than 4 to 1. (Greens are the true early voting champs, with nine of their 71 people already voted; no Libertarians at all voted early.)

Put another way: 5 percent of Democrats, 3 percent of Republicans, and only 1 percent of no party voters have voted early. That's one more indicator of a polarized electorate with candidates targeting their bases and Democrats doing a better job of it. Of course, Republicans have shifted away from pushing early voting since the turn of the century in favor of stressing election day efforts.

Most of the unreturned ballots are of the automatic overseas type, and those will have an even worse return rate than usual due to the compressed special election time line. 98 domestic mail absentees are still out: 62 Democrats, 22 Republicans and 14 no party. More of those than usual are out of town thanks to the unusual time of year.

Overall the early voting trend lines up pretty close to last May's sales tax election. So does that mean a similar turnout in the 15 percent ballpark? Or are we looking an election where people had their minds made up and voted early, like the 2003 Iowa City school bond with its 50 percent absentee rate?

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