As I’ve shared in the past, part of my professional work involves election analysis. This past Election Night was one for the storybooks.
The day before Election Day, I conducted about nine or so media interviews — I provided analysis on what to expect for turnout, voter dynamics, and close races to watch.
We rarely ever get any “wild cards” in our local contests — so many of them are blowouts, with a strong voter presence for approving incumbents and a fairly pro-business stance on ballot propositions. Typically, primary election voters are older, Republicans, and fairly conservative. Not so this election.
I nicknamed June 7 to be a “blue primary” — heavy Democratic turnout was projected, largely driven by the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Historic voter registration records were exceeded; more than 254,000 new voters registered in San Diego County since Jan. 1 of this year, and more than 2 million statewide.
Most of these new voters are Millenials, Democratic leaning, and overall fit the demographic profile of Bernie Sanders supporters.
Was Bernie going to win California? Late polls showed it to be a dead heat. This in turn generated more Democratic voter interest in the election, and had an impact in down ticket races, particularly in North County.
The 49th Congressional District, which hugs the northern coastal communities from La Jolla to Camp Pendleton, was a surprisingly close race; at last count, incumbent Congressman Darrell Issa was ahead over Democratic challenger Doug Applegate 48.8 percent to 47.86 percent in the San Diego portion of the district, which also cuts into northern coastal Orange County.
Issa has a real race on his hands in the November runoff, and will have to fight to keep his seat; my precinct level analysis finds he did best in the Camp Pendleton borderlands of Oceanside, Carlsbad, and the unincorporated county areas, whereas Applegate dominated coastal precincts, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar.
The 3rd Supervisorial District was an interesting one to watch. Incumbent Supervisor Dave Roberts is headed to a runoff race this fall against Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, who defeated Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and clinched the runoff spot. Gaspar performed best in Encinitas, along coastal areas, and is expected to pick up Abed’s votes in the November face-off.
The biggest surprise on Election Night was in the San Diego City Attorney’s race, and San Diego City Council District 9.
Deputy City Attorney Mara Elliott bested two heavyweight Democratic contenders to face off in the November against Deputy District Attorney Robert Hickey. Mara’s ballot title, and seemingly strong support within precincts with large numbers of minority young female voters clinched her the nomination over hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by her opponents.
I’ll do a follow-up analysis, but it’s likely many of these voters were new voters, energized by the Democratic presidential race.
Did you vote? You’ll be sure you’ll want to in the fall — lots of races in North County will be on the ballot for city councils and other local contests. I’m sure we may have some close elections and a wild card or two. Be sure to register before Election Day!
Vince Vasquez is a think tank analyst based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.