Surprising Numbers Behind Charlie Rangel’s Victory

The Prime New York voter file has now been updated to include data about the voters who came out in the June Congressional Primaries.

 Unlike two years ago, this year only one contest drew much interest – the rematch between Congressman Charles Rangel & State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

 Examining the data about who actually voted produces some surprises (at least to me) that can help explain where Congressman Rangel won and by a larger margin than in 2012.

 The first surprise was known in June but bears repeating. In an era of lower voter participation in almost all New York elections, the turnout went up in the 13th CD from 43,269 to 50,234.

 The next surprise has to do with these voters. Most people (including me) would assume that virtually all the 2012 voters voted this year.

 And most (including me) would be wrong.

 @69% of the 2012 voters voted this year. That’s a decent number but it means that 31% of the people who voted the last time Rangel & Espaillat opposed each other sat it out this year.

 That brings us to the question of who are the 2014 voters are who didn’t vote in 2012.

 Some might speculate that they are young voters who were motivated this year.  After all, the third candidate in the race, Rev. Michael Walrond said that was his strategy to win “Young people will vote because I am running,” Walrond said. “We want to make history. And we are going to make history.”

 But that didn’t happen. Less than 5% of the voters in the Primary were under the age of 30 and less than 500 of the voters were people who registered to vote after the 2012 Primary.

 In fact, looking at the numbers, most of the 2014 voters were experienced Primary voters, who have voted in some Primary in the past with before with over 85% voted in a previous June or September or Presidential Primary or Runoff going back to 1992.

 In fact rather than young voters making a difference, @25% of the Primary voters were age 70 years or older!

 These numbers along with the results indicate to me that the key to Rangel’s improved showing were these older voters. Voters who have supported him in the past but didn’t vote in 2012 for whatever reason (complacency, questions about his ethics and/or health) but came out this year to keep the Congressman in for one final term.