July 10, 2013 at 9:35 AM
Seattle’s mayoral primary forecast: sparse turnout, older voters
Seattle’s mayoral primary is just around the corner. Ballots will be mailed on July 17 for the Aug. 6 election.
But how many voters will take a break from our short season of sunshine and festivals to participate?
Look for turnout to be relatively low – and dominated by older voters.
King County Elections is unofficially estimating a 35 percent turnout for Seattle’s election (a formal forecast will be out in a week or so), said spokeswoman Kim van Ekstrom.
That would be lower than the 38.6 percent who voted in the 2009 Seattle primary, when voters dumped then-Mayor Greg Nickels, but higher than the 30 percent turnout in 2005 when Nickels sailed through against weak opposition.
With no presidential election to draw them in, younger voters tend to sit out off-year primaries, leaving the chore to their elders.
In the 2009 mayoral primary, 44 percent of the ballots were cast by voters 60 or older, and 73 percent came from people 45 or above. Just 5 percent came from the under 30 crowd. The median age of voters in that primary was 58. (That’s according to an analysis of voting data by The Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo.)
That’s a much different demographic than in big presidential elections. In the 2008 general election, which broke turnout records, just 29 percent of Seattle voters who participated were 60 and older. The median age of Seattle voters that year was 48.
See Mayo’s chart at right for a side-by-side lineup of the relative Seattle voter demographics in the 2009 primary versus the 2008 general.
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