Capitol Weekly and the CA120 series have been exploring the use of original polling to review the presidential race and the U.S. Senate contest. We are providing data-driven stories on how California voters are engaging with the election.
Our partners in this work have been lead pollster Jonathan Brown of Sextant Strategies and Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc.
Most strikingly, the voters under age 35, who have been the backbone of a two-million voter registration surge since January, are only 10% of votes cast so far.
As part of this effort, we have been working on two projects to provide a real-time glimpse into California’s historic Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, and to dig deeper into voter behavior.
The first project is an infographic created by Political Data, Inc., which tracks the rates of returns for voters who have already mailed in their absentee ballots. It can be found here and will be updated daily.
In the inaugural CA120 article, we saw that the California electorate is measured not only by partisanship, age, ethnicity and geography, but also by time. Knowing when voters cast their ballots can give campaigns an edge, and watching the returns as they arrive at county registrars can help us build an understanding of who is turning out to vote.
Today, May 29, the absentee turnout includes more than 1.5 million voters, with higher participation by Democrats and Republicans, and a significant drop among non-partisan voters.
Latinos, who have been seen to be registering in higher numbers in the past few weeks, are turning out in lower numbers than their registration or their share of the absentee voter pool. Most strikingly, the voters under age 35, who have been the backbone of a two-million voter registration surge since January, are only 10% of votes cast so far, with voters over 55 accounting for two-thirds of the turnout to date.
The second project is a statewide exit poll of absentee voters as they turn in their ballots.
Capitol Weekly already has begun building a large sample of respondents to a survey that asks questions about policy stances and election choices related to this primary election and beyond.
The results of this exit poll will be released in segments, and the first element — an analysis of non-partisan voters who want to vote in the open Democratic primary — is coming tomorrow, May 30.
This exit polling of absentee voters will be a learning experience for us, but it should prove informative as state and national political observers begin to unpack this historic election. We believe the exit polling will help us understand the underlying dynamics of voter decision making. We will not dwell on the horse-race analysis of who is “winning” or “losing,” realizing that we might not have a perfectly representative study of the full electorate.
We hope you enjoy these tools and we look forward to your feedback.
Ed’s Note: John Howard is the editor of Capitol Weekly.