The June primary election has arrived, giving voters a chance to visit the polls for the third time in just eight months.
Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on as the first rush of election results are released at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Just How Paltry Was Voter Turnout?
Local pollster John Nienstedt warned early last week that Tuesday’s turnout could be so abysmal it might “damage the city’s psyche.” He predicted just 16 percent of San Diego’s worn-out voters would cast ballots this time around, just a few months after a series of special elections.
Nienstedt’s projections got a bit rosier by the end of last week, after the voters who took more time to turn in mail-in ballots following the wildfires and Memorial Day festivities, well, mailed it in.
He’s now predicting turnout in the 22 percent to 25 percent range, shy of the numbers officials have recorded in past years.
On Monday, the National University System’s elections numbers-cruncher Vince Vasquez released a report that predicted similar turnout, from roughly 18 percent to 23 percent, that also cited voter fatigue as a drain on voter interest. The report anticipated about 20 percent to 30 percent of ballots would be cast Tuesday.
At least two political consultants told our podcast hosts on this weekend’s VOSD Radio they’ve adjusted their approaches to try to get less-informed voters who make up their minds at the last minute.
Who Gets to Celebrate an Outright Win?
Most candidates in Tuesday’s races need to grab more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a November runoff.
This applies to the battles for the district attorney’s office, the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors, City Council posts and others.
In the first two cases, longtime incumbents District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Board of Supervisor Bill Horn may be able to eke out enough votes to put a halt to heated campaigns.
Donors have also thrown significant cash at City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who hopes to win the District 2 seat after redistricting forced her out of District 6, and Chris Cate, who hopes to best four other candidates vying for the District 6 seat.
Then there are the candidates who’ll likely skate through Tuesday without significant opposition. District 4 City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole and District 8 City Councilman David Alvarez are expected to win outright on Tuesday.
District 4 Supervisor Ron Roberts can take it especially easy this Election Day. He’s running unopposed.
Will the Republican Victory Pattern Hold True?
It’s been a truism in San Diego politics since 2008. In elections where President Obama is on the ballot, the city’s progressive candidates and causes win. (See: Bob Filner and a school tax.) In elections where Obama isn’t on the ballot, San Diego’s conservative candidates and causes win. (See: the defeat of a sales tax, and a school tax.)
The link in all these elections, aside from the president’s name, is turnout. When Obama’s not on the ballot, Democrats can’t seem to get enough voters to the polls to take advantage of their registration plurality.
Obviously, Obama isn’t on the ballot Tuesday. And we’ve already talked about the projected low turnout. If the pattern holds, Zapf, Cate and Dumanis all will do well and the Barrio Logan community plan will be defeated.
And if those things happen, it will mean the seventh out of the last nine citywide elections where Republicans have swept the contests.