The following is from former Arlington County Treasurer and long-time electoral turnout/predictions guru Frank X. O’Leary. Basically, O’Leary is forecasting: 1) record turnout – by far – for a Senatorial election year in Arlington; 2) an overwhelming victory for Tim Kaine over the “odious” Corey Stewart in Arlington; and 3) a victory for Democratic County Board nominee Matt de Ferranti over Republican/self-proclaimed “Independent” John Vihstadt. From Frank O’Leary’s lips to god’s ears, as the saying goes…LOL
Predictions of Voter Turnout in Arlington for the 2018 General Election and Possible Outcomes
There are seventeen electoral years in every 100 years in which the Senate Race heads the ballot. The last occurred in 2014, when only 67,489 Arlington voters (48.2% of Active Registrants) turned out. (Statewide, the corresponding figure was 47.5%.) This same unexplained malaise was evident nationally, where the corresponding figure was 44.2%. By any measure, in nearly every state, voting in 2014 (featuring a galaxy of Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests) was the worst since 1942.
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Note, that in the Senate Year, Turnout has been 59.5% of Active Registrants. There are currently 149,127 Active Registrants. Were 59.5% of them to vote this year, Voter Turnout would equal 89,000. If the inexplicably low turnout of 2014 is disregarded, then the average Turnout for the Senate Year rises to 61.0%, with an implied 2018 Turnout of 91,000.
Note also that number of voters turning out in the Senatorial Year tends to be 6.6 percent greater than the Gubernatorial Year. Last Year, the Governor’s Race produced 85,323. It would be reasonable to assume that this year’s Senate Race might generate 6.6 percent more or (once again) about 91,000 votes.
The Absentee Vote is an even more reliable predictor. In 2017, as of last Friday 1,804 absentee votes had been cast. This year, the corresponding number is (an astounding) 3,577! Should this trend continue (and there is no guarantee that it will) more than 20,000 Absentee Votes will have been cast corresponding to a turnout on the order of 95,000.
The record Turnout for a Senatorial Year in Arlington was set in 2006, when 73,499 voters turned out, inspired in part by George Allen’s “macaca” moment. By any measure, this year’s Turnout will easily ‘eclipse that mark and set a new record.
Turnout, to a large degree, dictates outcome. Arlington’s extremely low turnout of 67,489 in 2014 yielded Mark Warner 47,643 votes (70.5%). By contrast, the 2017 Turnout of 85,214 provided Ralph Northam with 68,093 votes (79.9%). Suffice to say, an expanded electorate coupled with an odious opponent will net Tim Kaine more than 80% of the Arlington Vote.
Turning now to the County Board race, there are multiple factors at work. John Vihstadt has been a diligent, hard-working, “Independent” member of the County Board with the advantage of incumbency, name recognition, and the support of a number of prominent Democratic elected office holders and the benefit of a well-organized, highly-focused campaign. He was greatly assisted in 2014 by the extremely controversial issue of constructing a trolley line along Columbia Pike and the “Million Dollar Bus Stop.” Vihstadt faces an extremely determined Democratic candidate, Mathew de Ferranti, supported by a re-vamped (and equally determined) Democratic Party structure, and must also confront the curse of “The Donald.”
Mr. Vihstadt starts with a proven base of 35,000, de Ferranti, perhaps 27,500. (That totals 62,500.) Thereafter, at greater levels of turnout, the blue tide will become increasingly the determining factor. In the event that Total Turnout exceeds 88,000 (with 75,000 or more votes cast in the County Board race), Mathew de Ferranti will defeat John Vihstadt and win election to the County Board.
As the Absentee Vote develops, further reports of estimated Turnout will follow.
Many Happy Returns!