May 8 Primary Turnout (It's Not What You Think)

I've seen online comments like this one on the CHALT blog:

"Only 20% of registered voters actually voted. There are nearly 106,000 registered voters in Orange County. For this primary, fewer than 20,000 voted. Less than 20%! Surely more than 20% care about our schools, law enforcement, and the county budget."

While it's surely true that 20% is a disappointing primary turnout, let's compare off-year (non-presidential) primary turnout, and remember that 2018 was the first primary since 1958 where there was NO state-wide race or state-wide referendum on the ballot to drive turnout -- and it turns out that 2018 had an unusually HIGH Democratic primary turnout.

Here are some actual turnout numbers in Orange County
2010 Democratic primary* votes cast for county commissioner 11,600
2014 Democratic primary* votes cast for county commissioner 15,610
2018 Democratic primary votes cast for county commissioner 18,300

*2010 and 2014 had statewide US Senate Democratic primary on the ballot as well.

2018 turnout by party of voters (% of those registered)
Democratic 27.0%
Unaffiliated 11.5%**
combine D+U (total universe of people eligible to vote in Democratic county commissioner primary: 20.0%

IMHO the much lower unaffiliated % turnout is not unusual at all. The U voters have very weak partisan links, that's why they chose Unaffilliated.

** of the 5,048 unaffiliated voters voting May 8, a total of 4,887 chose the Democratic primary ballot, 74 chose the Libertarian primary, and 87 (all in the OCSD) asked for the nonpartisan ballot which just had the school board race.

compare (Orange County voters only) turnout in Chapel Hill municipal election:
2015 18.29%
2017 16.43%

Thus the 2018 turnout was historically (while awful from a good government sense) quite high for a local race.

By June 7 all the early votes and mail-in ballots will be allocated back to the precincts and we can see how the at-large commissioner race broke out, as well as the other races. A quick look at election day votes showed that Sally Greene did best NOT in Chapel Hill, but in Carrboro !!  I will have a new post when we have the full precinct totals.




How is it that you completely ignore the sad fact that the election always takes place in the democratic primary? Could it be the reason that fewer people of a narrower political viewpoint are engaged to elect a homogonized slate of the usual suspects? How has this become the "progressive" view of representative politics and worthy of the exclaimation "It's not what you think!" 

I have to say the it turns out it's *exactly* what I thought and *exactly* why people don't show up to vote.

The result of the lack of feedback and discourse is that people just repeat their delusional fantasies in their respective echo chambers, just like this one.

sorry TBlake that you think it’s a “delusional fantasy” for me to factually report from official documents the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots in the May 8 primary, and compare it to municipal elections. It’s not my fault there was no GOP primary, and it’s not my fault that the General Assembly cancelled the primary election for Supreme Court in which all voters could have cast ballots. Also I did not simply post in a “respective echo chamber”, I also made a similar post in the CHALT blog   So your ad hominem attack on me is truly saddening and totally uncalled for.


Read it again, you need to learn the meaning of “ad hominum”. I included the definition below for your edification. My post clearly attacked the position of your post and the idea behind it as wrong. Not you personally. No one blamed you for the political situation in this county, but faulted your conclusion for misidentifying the reason for low turn out and the idea that it somehow was “not what you think”.


The delusion comment criticized the state of partisan rhetoric the body politic at large is so fed up with. Your reply is simply another example of said delusion. The humorous part is that my reply is "not what you think".


ad ho·mi·nem

ˌad ˈhämənəm/Submit

adverb & adjective


(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.

Thanks for again calling me delusional. Not sure what your problem is. You should think long and hard about yourself,

Again problems with reading comprehention? I called your statement delisional. I guess its easier to play wounded than address the issue. You should think long and hard about yourself.


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