Election Update: So Far, People Voting Are Older, Whiter, Wealthier, and More Conservative Than Average LA Resident

Some swell guy by the name of Paul Mitchell has been putting together some great charts summarizing the turnout for LA's March 7th municipal election. His latest data includes returns though March 1st, which you can check out here.

Some depressing, but not especially surprising findings from that data:

  • As of March 1st, six days before the close of the election, just 9.9% of those with mail-in ballots have turned them in.

  • 13.8% of Republicans have turned in their ballots, while only 10.4% of Democrats and 7.0% of Independents have mailed theirs.

  • Only 2.5% of those 18-24 and 4.3% of those age 25-34 have returned their mail-in ballots; 21.7% of those age 65+ have mailed theirs in.

  • 13.9% of homeowners have sent in their vote-by-mail ballots, compared to just 9.1% of renters.

Note: This is just for the City of LA, though Mitchell's data has the option to explore other municipalities and the county as a whole. Also, all of the above numbers represent the share of people who receive mail-in-ballots that have turned them in at this point. More than half of LA voters do not receive mail-in-ballots, and must show up at the polls to vote. (I don't know why they do this, because you can receive your ballot by mail and turn it in at a polling place, if that's your thing.)

Mitchell's data does not show how many whites or African Americans receive mail-in-ballots, unfortunately, so we can't draw the same conclusions from the returns as for the above groups—for example, whites may have sent a disproportionate share of the mail-in-ballots received by the city, but they may also represent a disproportionate share of those receiving vote-by-mail ballots. Nonetheless, here is some information on race/ethnicity from the election returns thus far:

  • Whites make up 49.9% of registered voters in LA, but have returned 64.2% of the mail-in-ballots. Latinos make up 31.4% of registered voters but have only sent in 14.9% of the ballots received by the city. The rates for Asians are 8.4% to 11.2% (over-representation) and for African Americans they're 10.4% to 8.6% (under-representation).

So, the people who have turned in their ballots so far tend to be older, whiter, more conservative, and more affluent than the average registered voter in LA—to say nothing of the average person in LA, since many are not registered for any number of reasons. This is basically what the Measure S folks were counting on when they moved their ballot initiative from November to March. So far, their gamble looks to be paying off. Please don't let it.