Frank O’Leary, who served as Arlington County Treasurer for over three decades (1983-2014), also was well known for his voter turnout and electoral predictions. Last year, on October 26, O’Leary predicted turnout of 128,000 (plus or minus 6,000) in Arlington County. The final turnout numbers, according to the State Board of Elections website: 122,379. Not too shabby! So what are O’Leary’s predictions this year? See below, but let’s just say, if I were VA GOP Chair John Whitbeck or the campaigns of Ed Gillespie, Jill Vogel and/or John Adams, I wouldn’t like what O’Leary has to say…
A Real Barnburner!
Turnout in Arlington for this year’s Gubernatorial race should be a record-breaker by a wide margin – I expect more than 80,000 votes to be cast! Turnout at that level is almost Presidential. Here’s how this year should stack up in the context of recent comparable years.
My prediction is based on the level of absentee voting as a sample of the total turnout population. As of October 30, 6,856 absentee votes have been cast versus approximately 3,800 at the same point in 2013 and 2014. Should the same pattern of absentee voting (evident for these and other years) hold true, then about 12,500 (or more) absentee votes will be cast by November 7. That number in turn correlates with a total turnout of 84,000 or more.
As a convention, I use the color blue to denote estimates. In this case, however, it may be a harbinger of Democratic victory statewide. A high turnout generally bodes well for Democrats and, in Arlington, almost certainly assures that Northam will far exceed McAuliffe’s margin of victory in 2013.
In that year, McAuliffe won Arlington by more than 33,000 votes. This year Northam should enjoy a local victory margin of 45,000 or more. Moreover, realize that in 2013 McAuliffe won by less than 57,000 statewide and the significance of Arlington in determining outcome in Virginia becomes apparent. But Arlington is not alone, and – as goes Arlington – so goes Alexandria and Falls Church and (to a lesser extent) Fairfax and Prince William.
Finally, unless Arlington is an arbitrary maverick, Democratic turnout throughout the Commonwealth should be considerably greater than in prior years. All of this should also produce “many happy returns” for a number of Democratic candidates seeking admission to the House of Delegates.