2014 San Diego mayoral election early voting map
Link to the 2013 early voting map

by Joe Yerardi | inewsource


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With Election Day here, political operatives and campaign volunteers are fanning out across the city in massive get-out-the-vote operations. But nearly 165,000 people already have voted, and those ballots may well determine who wakes up tomorrow morning as San Diego’s mayor-elect.

At inewsource, we analyzed some of the early voting patterns and compared them with votes cast in the primary.

Here are some of the numbers:

In the Nov. 19 primary, votes were cast in 582 precincts. Republican Kevin Faulconer won a majority in 176 of them. The Democrats — David Alvarez, Mike Aguirre and Nathan Fletcher — combined to win a majority in 337 of them. Of those 337 precincts, Alvarez alone won a majority in 57.

In the precincts Faulconer won, the average early voting return rate was 53.7 percent as of Monday, Feb. 10.

In the precincts the three Democrats won, the return rate was 41.9 percent.

In the 57 precincts in which Alvarez alone won a majority, the return rate on early ballots was 32.6 percent.

INTERACTIVE: Click here for a searchable, interactive map of early voting rates by precinct.

That stark divide in turnout doesn’t surprise one close watcher of San Diego politics.

“Traditionally, Republicans end up with a higher mail-in [turnout] and Democrats have a higher turnout on Election Day,” said Carl Luna, a professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College.

And early voting promises to make up the bulk of all ballots cast in the race. In the Nov. 19 primary, early ballots comprised 68 percent of all votes cast.

That pattern seems to be holding true, according to a recent analysis of early voting returns by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

That analysis, authored by senior policy analyst Vince Vasquez, revealed that as of Jan. 31, 49 percent of early ballots issued to registered Republicans were returned as compared with about 36 percent issued to registered Democrats.

In absolute numbers, Democrats — thanks to their substantial advantage in voter registration — actually returned more ballots — 48,419 to 51,147. 26,066 ballots were returned by registered independents.

According to this month’s voter registration report, 39.8 percent of registered voters in the city are Democrats. Republicans make up 26.4 percent of registered voters.

That means Faulconer’s only hope for victory is that turnout among Republicans — whether by early ballot or on Election Day — be strong.

“If they [Republicans] have anything less than a 50 percent turnout, I don’t see Faulconer winning,” Luna said.

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Questions, tips or suggestions? Email reporter Joe Yerardi at joeyerardi@inewsource.org or call him at 619.594.5321. Follow Joe on Twitter at @JoeYerardi.

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Joe Yerardi is a freelance data journalist for inewsource, where he worked between 2013 and 2016 as an investigative reporter and data specialist. To contact him with questions, tips or corrections, email joe.yerardi@gmail.com.