Monroe County Democrats had a lot to celebrate on election night. They won races for Sheriff, Henrietta town supervisor, county legislator and Pittsford town board. While the local party attributes success to hard work and great candidates, Monroe County is likely not immune from forces at work across the country. Democrats made gains all over, thanks to Trump’s damage to the GOP brand.
Were local Democrats more motivated to come out in an off-year election? Here’s what the numbers tell us.
Turnout in 2017 was 40 percent in Monroe County’s suburbs. That’s a 10 point increase from 2013 and 8 points higher than 2015.
Turnout among Democrats was 41 percent, an increase of 12 percentage points over 2013 and 8 percentage points over 2015. That translated to 13,000 more Democrats compared to 2015.
Republican turnout, at 46 percent, was up 8 percentage points from 2013 and 6 percentage points over 2015. That’s 9,000 more Republicans.
“Blank” voters turnout was 38 percent, a 15 point increase over 2013 and 13 point increase over 2015. About 12,000 more unaffiliated voters let their voices be heard.
Young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 remain poorly represented, with only 13 percent voting in 2017, but even this is an increase over 2013 and 2015. Ages 25 to 34 are better represented at 20 percent, nearly ten points higher than in 2013 and 2015. Voter participation tends to increase drastically as voters reach their forties.
City turnout was 10 percentage points lower than the suburbs. Many voters believed the mayoral and council races were decided in the primary, a message reinforced by the media.
There was undoubtedly a Blue Wave impact in Monroe County. Although Democrats have an enrollment advantage of 55,000 voters, their numbers at the polls are on par with Republicans in off-years. But in 2017, they outnumbered Republicans by 12,000 voters. Unaffiliated voters, who also showed much stronger numbers at the polls, are also likely impacting results.
About the same number of Democrats and Republicans voted in the 2014 midterm elections. If this pattern of increased participation among Democrats and independents holds for the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats will likely have another strong year.
Author: Eric Stevens