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Earlier this week, we examined the possible impact of presidential politics on the mayoral race. One key takeaway: The candidates’ audience will be much, much bigger.

Voter turnout in the June 5 primary was second weakest of any major election in the past three decades. About 37 percent of registered voters countywide ended up casting ballots.

It’s a stark contrast from the 2008 general election that put Barack Obama in the White House. Voter turnout was the strongest of any major election in the past three decades. About 84 percent of registered voter cast ballots.

Here’s another way to think about it. More than twice as many San Diegans participated in electing their representatives in the November 2008 election compared to the election last month.

The maps below illustrate voter turnout by precinct in each of the elections. The areas with highest turnout this year largely centered on neighborhoods with City Council races on the ballot (i.e. La Jolla, Tierrasanta and Rancho Bernardo). It was lowest in southeastern San Diego neighborhoods and the South Bay.

For more on why experts think turnout matters, I recommend checking out City Hall reporter Liam Dillon’s piece. Here’s an excerpt from political scientist Vlad Kogan:

The fact that the mayor’s race is held on the same day as the presidential race should, all else held constant, help Filner. However, all else is not held constant. As I pointed out before, Democrats in San Diego have a huge ballot roll-off problem. In the closest local races in 2008, almost one in seven Obama voters did not even bother casting a ballot in the city races. This reflects the weakness of the local party in doing member communications and raising awareness of its candidates’ “brand name.” If roll off stays that high in this election, the turnout gains produced by the Obama’s campaigns mobilization efforts will bear few fruits for Filner.

Correction: The graphic above has been changed to provide more information in the legend and correct a design mistake. The mistake inflated turnout at more than a dozen rural precincts in the 2008 presidential election. We apologize for the error.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He writes about local government, creates infographics and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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