What Was California's Voter Turnout Actually Like? It Definitely Beat Recent Primaries
With only one candidate actively campaigning on the GOP side of the aisle coupled with last night's contested declaration from the AP that Clinton had clinched the Democratic nomination and is now the presumptive nominee, one of the biggest questions on everyone's mind is "How will this affect turnout?" So, what was California's voter turnout actually like? It was actually higher than the last two presidential primaries.
According to the California Secretary of State's office, 33.3 percent of registered voters cast their ballots on Tuesday. While that may sound low (and compared to other Western democracies, it is), it beats the 2012 turnout of 31.1 percent and 2008's 28.2 percent. There was also a significant increase in total votes cast — higher than the increase in the percentage of the electorate that chose to vote. In 2012, 5,328,296 voters cast their ballot in the California primary. This year, 5,966,597 did. That marks a nearly 12 percent increase in total registered voters participating.
The marked increase in total registered voters participating is not wholly unexpected. Even before the Tuesday primary, there were indications of a solid turnout. Based on a survey commissioned by Capitol Weekly using the polling firm Political Data, Inc, as of Saturday, the amount of absentee ballots turned in on the Democratic side was in reported to be neighborhood of 2.8 million. That figure means that roughly 300,000 more Democratic voters participated this year, compared with in 2014. Looking even further back to the last contested Democratic primary in 2008, only 1.8 million votes were cast by the Saturday before the polls closed. Projected turnout on the GOP side was not made available by the Capitol Weekly's poll.
Another strong factor in the higher voter turnout may be the significant increase in voter registration that occurred in the months leading up to the primary. According to the Associated Press, nearly 650,000 Californians registered to vote. Some analysts have suspect that boost may come from Donald Trump's rhetoric towards people of Hispanic heritage — and a desire to keep him from the White House. NBC News reported that of the 1,967,543 Californians who registered to vote this year, 488,437 were Latino.