While some say Hillary Clinton could be the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry Orange County since the Great Depression, at this point more Republicans than Democrats have returned their vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots.
In OC, 378,068 VBMs have been issued to Republicans; 352,317 to Democrats; and 231,044 to No Party Preference (NPP) voters.
According to the most recent numbers released yesterday by the OC Registrar of Voters, 169,520 GOP voters have returned their ballots, compared to 137,325 Democrats and 74,978 NPPs.
Put in percentage terms, 44.7% of Republican VBM voters have cast ballots; 38.9% of Democrats; and 32.4% of NPPs.
According to the OC Registrar of Voters, VBM returns are 8.6% ahead of the same period in 2012, and “Republicans have returned ballots at an increased rate of 23.4% over Democrats.”
If possible this GOP advantage could be offset by Election Day turnout by Democrats. At the same time, the momentum in the presidential campaign appears to have shifted in favor of Trump. It’s logical and reasonable to assume this development is more pronounced in still-conservative Orange County.
Democrats have been counting on turnout to carry them in some local races like the 1st Supervisor District match-up between GOP Supervisor Andrew Do and Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez.
The 1st District is 44.3% (102,311 voters) Democrat; 27.2% (62,915 voters) Republican; and 24.7% (57,131) NPP voters. As is the case countywide, Republicans are leading in VBM turnout in the 1st District:
- 16,465 of 41,534 Republican VBM voters have returned their ballots — a 39.6% return rate.
- 20,895 of 73,416 Democrat VBM voters have returned their ballots – a 28.4% return rate.
- 9,504 of 36,603 NPP VBM voters have returned their ballots – a 25.9% return rate.
On one hand, there are still more Democrats than Republicans voting in terms of raw numbers, and the turnout disparity may well be narrower among Election Day voters in the 1st District. Other factors to consider:
- Do has the advantage of incumbency
- His better-resourced campaign has engaged in far more voter communication and contact effort than Martinez
- He has a robust ground operation for GOTV
- Since Vietnamese-Americans tend to place ethnic loyalty ahead of party label, Do should garner a significant number of Vietnamese Democrats.
- Assuming a high rate of partisan loyalty among Republican and Democratic voters, the NPP voter pool is large enough for Do to negate the Democrats’ advantage in raw numbers.