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Poll: Historic low turnout predicted

A Californian casts a ballot. (Photo: Vepar5 via Shutterstock)

The Field Poll estimates that only 8.2 million Californians will be participating in today’s statewide general election. If this estimate is realized, this would represent a turnout of just 46.1% of the state’s 17.8 million registered voters and just 33.8% of the state’s 24.3 million adult citizens who are eligible to register and vote. Both would represent record lows for a statewide general election in California in the modern era.

The poll also projects that the proportion of voters choosing to cast their ballot by mail will reach another new high, with 60% of all ballots cast by mail and just 40% participating at their local polling precinct.. To see the complete survey and methodology, click here.

Turnout in today’s election will likely set a new record low
Currently about 24.3 million citizen adults in California are eligible to register and vote. Of these, 17.8 million, or 73.3% are actually on the voter registration rolls.

The Field Poll estimates that only about 8.2 million of these voters will actually be participating in today’s statewide general election. This number would represent a record low 46.1% turnout of the state’s registered voters and would comprise a 33.8% turnout of the state’s citizen-eligible adults.

If these estimates are realized, this would represent the lowest proportions of registered voters and citizen-eligibles in any California presidential or non-president election in the modern era.

Of the estimated 8.2 million Californians expected to participate in this year’s general election, The Field Poll estimates that a record high proportion – 60% – will be cast using a mail ballot.

Since 1980 the proportion of citizen-adults voting by mail has increased steadily year after election  year. According to the California Secretary of State, in the 2012 presidential election 51.2% of Californians cast their votes by mail, up from 48.4% who did so in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Both of these percentages established new record highs at the time. This year’s election will very likely set a new high.

Of the 17.8 million Californians currently on the state’s official voter registration rolls, 43.3% are registered as Democrats and 28.1% are Republicans. Another 23.3% are registered as non-partisanor no party preference voters and 5.3% are registered with another party. This distribution is the first time that the combined total of the state’s voters who are not registered with either of the two major parties exceeds the number who are registered Republicans.

A comparison of the demographic characteristics of the state’s total registered voter population with those likely to be participating in this year’s election shows the following differences:

• While the Democrats hold a 15 percentage-point advantage over the Republicans on the state’s overall registered voter rolls, among those likely to be participating in this year’s election, their advantage will decline to about 9 points, with 43% of voters likely to be Democrats and 34% Republicans.

• While Los Angeles County accounts for 28% of the state’s total registered voters, they will likely represent just 22% of those voting in today’s election.

• The gender division among the overall electorate statewide is 47% male and 53% female. However, in today’s general election 50% of the votes will likely be cast by men and 50% by women.

• While voters age 50 or older account for an estimated 49% of the state’s total registered voters, they will likely represent about six in ten (59%) of those actually voting this year.

• While white non-Hispanics now account for 59% of all registered voters, they are expected to represent 70% of the voters in this year’s election. Conversely, while nearly one in four (24%) of the state’s registered voters are Latinos, The Field Poll estimates that they will account for just 16% of the total in today’s statewide elections.


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