Analyst Sam Almy: Democrats Won the Big Races Despite a Drop in Turnout

Data Analyst Sam Almy spoke at the 1-23-23 meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson. Set of below are his slides and an edited transcript of his remarks. 

Sam Almy: I have a few slides. I won’t be taking too much time here. But I want to go over what happened in Pima County and give it a bit of a statewide angle.

And then I think many people will cover the top races, the US Senate, the governor, and things like that. They are also going to probably take a look at the single-shot races for the State House. There’s a missed opportunity, I think, in one of our legislative districts where the Republicans were able to get an extra person in. Had both seats gone democratic, we would’ve had a tied Arizona house.

I think there are some opportunities in Pima County specifically for 2024. And I’ll also go over this here, but I will recap this election a little for you all. Here’s my intro slide. I know I came to D G T recently, so this is old hat for a lot of you. I used to be the voter file manager for the Arizona Democratic Party. Now I work with UPLIFT campaigns. We do a lot of digital advertising. We worked with all progressive candidates up and down the ballot, in Congressional races and the school boards. We did several races statewide.

We helped a little bit with Kris Mayes’ race and a little bit with Fontes’ race. We also worked on Kathy Hoffman’s race. We worked with Kristen Engel to do her digital stuff with several other legislative candidates around Arizona. But we also do national stuff. So we’re all over the place. I track early voting data for Arizona. I’ll talk a little bit about those trends a little bit later. And I try to keep everything in cool charts and graphs so everybody can understand.

And you can get a sense of perspective and understand what’s likely to happen. So let’s start with the statewide turnout. We don’t have full partisan turnout numbers statewide yet. I do have it for Pima County. I got that last week in Maricopa County, Pima County.

It was a little bit down. We’ll talk about that. Maricopa County was down, but not as dramatically as Pima County. But again, you have your typical map here. Here’s the whole state. Everybody here knows this doesn’t tell the entire picture. Because of these big giant precincts here, nobody is living in these precincts.

It’s all it’s like looking at the big electoral map of the states. Sure, it looks all red, but there’s nobody there. A lot of dark blue areas in the Navajo and Hopi nations. That was one of the areas in the state that increased in turnout. That was neat to see.

And then down here, of course, you got the same the Tohono Odom nation in dark blue, Cochise County, all red. But as everybody on this call knows, the action is happening in these filled-in hard-to-see precincts here in Maricopa County. And then down here in Tucson. I’ll zoom in on those areas here.

Something neat to see here is this top-of-the-ticket performance. So, we’ve got a kind of a combination of the US Senate, governor, and president. This has been trending Democratic. 2010 was a bit of an anomaly for Democrats. I think we had Rodney Glassman versus John McCain in that race.

Voter turnout dropped in 2022

So, you can see why that went poorly for the Democrats that year. This blue trend lines. This is something we like to see statewide. It is just barely above a 50% turnout. Many people have been talking about this in the early 2010s as Arizona’s about to flip blue. And it did.

You could see this happening. Mark Kelly got 51% of the vote. Republicans, I think, are the majority party right now. They flip back and forth between independents. Right now, they have a 165,000-voter advantage over Democrats. But this gap is closing a little bit.

Independents certainly will lean Democratic. But often, and I’ll show this in a few other slides, they don’t vote in large enough numbers to overcome this strong registration. And something that I’m telling you when I do this little slideshow is the question I’m always asking you, and I don’t have an answer for this: are these current results that we see in Arizona that started a little bit after 2016?

Is this a result of Donald? He is indeed a polarizing figure. None of the candidates he has endorsed in Arizona have won. That’s something very important to know about. At least not in a competitive district. I’m certain the non-competitive districts have one, but when it comes to a Blake Masters or a Kari Lake, they are not really statewide, and we as Democrats have to appreciate that. But at the same time, realize that if they run moderate conservatives, just generally boring, conservative candidates. Are the Democrats going to lose because of that? There certainly still is this large registration advantage for Republicans. So in 2024, we do have to be mindful of that. So the following two maps I’m going to show you, I will flip back and forth between them here.

This is the first map I will show you all of Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney. This is Pima County Precincts breakdown. And then map two will be Mark Kelly versus Blake Masters and see if you can see where the shift is happening within the county.

But, first, here are our blue precincts.

This is where Barack Obama won red Precincts. This is Mitt Romney. We’re going to go ahead and flip ahead 10 years. And there’s the difference right there. This blue area is all Mark Kelly precincts. This red area, we’re seeing this growth outward from the core of the urban core of Tucson.

Surprising Democratic Growth in red districts

We’re seeing that growth happen again, one and.

And you can even see down here in Sahuarita and Green Valley that these precincts turned blue. They went for Mark Kelly. I didn’t think I’d ever see Sal Rita go blue. Let alone Green Valley. So this is really encouraging to see, but again, we must ensure that we keep these gains going forward.

Here are the two maps side by side here. Earlier, we had a top-of-the-ticket performance statewide. This is for Pima County here. And again, Pima County has just become increasingly democratic. So I think it’s with Maricopa trending the way it is.

It’s a very split county right now. Certainly, the majority of the population is in Maricopa County. But with that split in Maricopa County, Pima County really pushes it across for Democrats. So having 62% of the vote for Mark Kelly, that’s huge that ensures that strong turnout in Yavapai and Mojave County that that goes away.

With this. From 2018 to 2022, 89. Precincts flipped from Doug Ducey to Katy Hobbs. A lot of those were in LD 17. I think LD 17 is towards the north here. And then LD 18, every one of these precincts went for Mark Kelly. That is not something we’ve seen in previous elections, and that’s a great trend.

No precincts went from David Garcia to Kari Lake, meaning all the democratic gains in Pima County.

So let’s look at some more trends for Pima County here. Again, always a democratic, heavily registered county. Here’s 2018. About 40% of registered voters in Pima County are registered Democratic. Republicans, the smallest party here at under 30%, closer to 28%, and then independence percent.

What happens, though, and this isn’t a Pima County problem. This statewide problem for independents is that they simply don’t vote. In 2020, they made up 33% of registered voters, but only 25% of those people have turned out and voted. So, that hinders a lot of Democratic candidates simply because many independents will vote democratic, but we’re not turning them out.

It’s a tricky battle for us. Something nice to see here is this turnout trend. And you can see this blue democratic line getting right on top of the Republican line. In previous years, there’s been a little bit of a gap there. And that’s really hurt us in statewide elections.

You can see in 2018, and this is where it basically evens up. Republicans and Democrats are turning out at the same rates. We’re seeing that trend happen a lot statewide, especially in many of our competitive legislative and congressional This.

Turnout was down from 2018. There was a weird reporting thing from the Pima County elections. They did something where, in 2018, they said, here’s the total number of registered voters, registered active voters. This year they reported active plus inactive voters, which is a little unusual.

I’ve never seen that happen. Pima and Pinal did. So if you look at Pima County’s numbers, turnout was actually down like 13%. But if you look at the Secretary of State’s numbers, turnout was down 7% in Pima County. So depending on which numbers you look at, neither is broad. Turnout could have been down a lot larger. For a lot of this presentation here, I’m just going to be looking at the active voters. That’s all I have from previous years.

Let’s talk about why Pima County’s turnout was so far down. And I’m going to credit my colleague, Adam Kinsey, for asking me this question. Was it because the D triple C wasn’t involved in a race? And that probably played a large role. This was the first time since 2004. The DCCC hadn’t played a role in Pima County since 2006.

They’ve always had Gabrielle Gifford’s district, the Ron Barber District, and Martha McSally’s District, which has always been a very competitive district for Pima County. Even in the north part of the district, you had Tom O’Halleran, so having that national money, that organizing the push for early voting.

I think that really affected how turnout happened because you can see that in CD7 and Grijalva’s district, overall turnout was down about two and a half percent. That’s very much on par with what the state was. I think the state was down exactly that amount. Democratic turnout was down a little bit in this district.

Republican turnout was down a little bit less, but when you jump over to CD6 Turnouts were down almost 10% compared to 2018. And that’s a pretty huge drop. I wasn’t expecting that, but I think this has to do with the lack of attention from some of the larger groups.

But you could also think about the local groups playing a part in this. So I certainly think of the DCCC looking at Juan Ciscomani’s margin of victory. That race will certainly be on their map in 2024 ADL C and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. So I think LD 17 might be on that radar as well.

Mark Kelly, Katie Hobbs and Adrian Fontes all won the LD 17 precincts. This does include this 9.8% drop. This is all voters. And then, if we break it out by pardon? This is what it looks like. Independents in Arizona 06 had a 13% drop in turnout as compared.

Something else that you can see. I’ve put this little map here. The dark orange is the largest drop in turnout. And you can see most of the turnout increases are over here in the western part of the county. But it’s not really anything concentrated in one particular.

It’s all just various shades of this orange here. So it’s not one area but is certainly more prevalent in the six areas.

Next, let’s talk about single shots here, and then I’m going to open it up for questions. And I can talk about anything you all. So We’re going to go back to the statewide view here. These are the single-shot LDs in Pima County, 2, 4, 13, 16, 17, 23, 27, 17, and 23.

The rest of LD 16 is your neighbor in Pinal. But the rest are up in Maricopa County. But you see, this is top of the ticket race here. All of these legislative districts are democratic. So, for instance, LD 17 crossed the 50% threshold for Mark Kelly.

Mark Kelly won this district. That’s really important. The other district I want to talk about is LD 23, which is a small portion of Pima County. It’s the western part. But this district also includes South Yuma County and portions of Maricopa. This district is consistently at 55% Democratic performance.

But if you look over here on our dots, our State House two candidates got close to 47% of it. That’s a huge drop-off from all these other dots here. Mark Kelly is up here at close to 57. This is a missed opportunity. There need to be some votes for two languages happening in LB 23.

This also happened when it was LD4. The Republicans got it. So that’s a problem that I don’t have great answers to. LD13 is up in Maricopa County. It’s in the Chandler area. This district, we have one State House candidate in there.

My personal opinion is it’s ready for two State House candidates. I think the current Republican senator there he’s an incumbent. He’s fairly well known, so hard to knock that out, especially with a down-ballot race. But they could be ready for two house candidates to pick up a majority in the State House, LD 17.

I think this race could benefit from a single-shot State House candidate. I was at their LD meeting the other day, and the top vote-getter in that district was Justine Wadsack. The state senator and I found that very bizarre because they rejected all the other Trump candidates, like Kari Lake and Blake Masters.

But they said, oh, this person we haven’t heard about, Justine Wadsack, the down-ballot candidate. We can vote for that one. Everybody here knows on this call knows that Justine is just out to lunch like the rest of Them. So this could be a state Senate pickup. I definitely think a State House pickup with the increased resources from both the national, the county and the state parties.

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