Belated Report on NYC Special Elections

Prime New York has recently added the voter history from the two Special Elections held in New York City in May of this year.

I decided to compare those who voted in these Specials as compared to the total voters to see if that information tells us anything about the election results, about Special Elections overall or about low-turnout elections in general.

11 CD

In the 1th Congressional District, @12% of the registered voters turned out to elect Dan Donovan, the Republican-Conservative-Independence candidate over Vincent Gentile, the Democrat-WFP candidate & James Lane of the Green Party to succeed former Congressman Michael Grimm.

Donovan won with 58%, slightly better than the 55% received by Grimm last November. There were 42,509 votes cast this year as opposed to 107,363 cast in 2014.

So how different was the electorate in the Special from all voters?

Mainly, they were older & more partisan.

While 21% of registered voters are not enrolled in any Party, only 10% of the Special Election voters were. At the same time the percentages of enrolled Republicans & Democrats voting were higher than their share of total voters. Republicans were 35% of voters compared to 26% overall & Democrats were 50% compared to 47%.

This is not surprising to most people involved in political campaigns and to most political scientists. It’s been clear for years that, despite various pundits hailing political independents as the most important voters in the country, most voters don’t enroll in parties because they are the least interested & least active voters.

Similarly, the numbers regarding the age of the electorate are not surprising to cynical pros like me.

While close to 14% of registered voters are under the age of 30, only 5% of the Special voters were. By contrast, 30% of the Special Election voters were age 70 or older & they are just 17% of all voters.

The other age breakdowns are the same – across the board, older voters were more likely to vote in the Special than younger voters.

Regarding other demographics, differences were not as dramatic.

Men were slightly more likely to vote than women & Italians & Irish slightly more likely than Asians & Hispanics. The percentage of African-American Special Election voters were actually a bit higher than their share of overall voters.

43 AD

The Special Election to fill the seat of former Assemblyman Karim Camara held the same day was a much more confusing election.

Because of a complicated situation that is too complicated to explain here, there was no Democratic candidate in this overwhelming African & Caribbean American Democratic district (81% registered Democrats).

As a result, 3 Democrats ran on third party lines – District Leader Shirley Patterson on the Independence line, former District Leader candidate Diana Richardson on the Working Families & District Leader Geoffrey Davis on a Party he created just for the race. There was also a Republican-Conservative candidate, Menachem Raitport.

8,581 voted & Richardson won with just under 50%.

Despite there not being an official Democratic Party candidate, enrolled Democrats were 89% of the Special Election voters, while those not enrolled in any party were 4.5% compared to the 12% they are of overall voters.

As in the 11th CD, it was older voters who dominated the electorate as voters age 50 or older were close to 70% of the voters (they are just 38% of all voters) and under 30 voters were just 6% compared to over 14% of all voters.

Unlike the 11th, women voted in higher numbers here than their share of all voters– 63% vs 59%, which is not surprising as two of candidates were women. Black voters voted in the same proportion as they are of the electorate but Jewish voters voted in twice the numbers they are, which partially explains Raitport candidate getting 16% of the vote while Republicans were just 5% of the Special electorate.