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How turnout affected the D.C. primary election

Today, in the not-a-column, I shared some insights into this year's primary elections revealed by a deep dig into precinct-by-precinct and ward-by-ward results from this year and four years ago. Here on the Big Blog, I'll take a closer look still.

First off, let's look at turnout. In terms of the traditional measure of turnout -- the percentage of registered voters who actually cast ballots -- turnout actually declined by 0.7 percent from 2006 to 2010 (though the 2010 numbers don't include about 10,000 provisional and absentee ballots, which will be counted by Monday). But the raw number of votes went up considerably, about 15 percent citywide. That's because the voter rolls swelled by more than 50,000, thanks largely to voters who registered to vote in the 2008 presidential election.

So where were all these new votes? Here's the breakdown on a ward basis:


And here you get a better look precinct by precinct:


Here are the precincts with the most dramatic rise:

  1. Precinct 131, voting at Van Ness Elementary School, 1150 5th St. SE, in Ward 6 (Southeast Waterfront) -- 260 more votes, a 337.7 percent rise
  2. Precinct 129, voting at Martin Luther King Library, 901 G St. NW, in Ward 2 (Chinatown/Penn Quarter) -- 301 more votes, an 88.0 percent rise
  3. Precinct 36, voting at Latin American Youth Center, 1419 Columbia Road NW 20009, in Ward 1 (South Columbia Heights) -- 571 more votes, a 85.9 percent rise
  4. Precinct 23, voting at MPD Boys and Girls Club, 2500 14th St. NW 20009, in Ward 1 (Cardozo) -- 246 more votes, a 45.9 percent rise
  5. Precinct 107, voting at Sousa Middle School, 3650 Ely Place SE 20019, in Ward 7 (Greenway) -- 148 more votes, a 45.5 percent rise
  6. Precinct 137, voting at Garrison Elementary School, 1200 S St. NW 20009, in Ward 1 (North Shaw) -- 121 more votes, a 45.0 percent rise
  7. Precinct 22, voting at Garnet-Patterson Jr. High School, 2001 10th St. NW 20001, in Ward 1 (U Street) -- 340 more votes, a 42.1 percent rise
  8. Precinct 42, voting at Mt. Rona Baptist Church, 3431 13th St. NW 20010, in Ward 1 (East Columbia Heights) -- 180 more votes, a 40.8 percent rise
  9. Precinct 115, voting at Seventh District Police Station, 2455 Alabama Ave. SE 20020, in Ward 8 (Garfield Heights) -- 206 more votes, a 40.6 percent rise
  10. Precinct 4, voting at West End Public Library, 1101 24th St. NW 20037, in Ward 2 (West End) -- 128 more votes, a 40.3 percent rise

So what does it all mean? As I mentioned in the column, the most dramatic increases in turnout came in areas that have seen significant development. Ward 1, which is in the heart of the District's gentrification zone, had 3,129 more voters than in 2006 - good for a 29 percent rise, the highest among all eight wards. But Fenty actually lost ground in the ward, percentage-wise: He took 62 percent of the vote in 2006 but 60 percent this year. With the turnout bump, Fenty came out of the ward with about 1,700 more votes than four years ago, but he needed more. And it wasn't just gentrifying areas where turnout rose. In Ward 8, with the highest proportion of African Americans, the number of ballots cast rose 27 percent, and 82 percent of them were for Gray.

Here's the math that matters: In the wards Fenty won (1, 2, 3 and 6), there were about 9,400 more votes than in 2006. But in the wards Gray won (4, 5, 7 and 8), turnout rose by more than 6,800. Fenty-friendly areas might be growing fast but not nearly fast enough to help him: There were still 7,800 more votes in Gray's wards than in Fenty's. The city might be changing, but one still cannot win by the white vote alone.

By Mike DeBonis  | September 24, 2010; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010, The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: DeMorning DeBonis: Sept. 24, 2010
Next: Picking apart the D.C. chairman's race


I can not believe we're really divided by THIS much. There's got to be a way we can come together as a whole, as a city. NO Mayor should be focused on any particular group or sections of the city, and no residents should be made to feel as though (s)he does.

Posted by: missboo | September 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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