A Look Into Turnout Projections Ahead of Election Day

Nov 3, 2017

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Voters are headed to the polls this week to elect a governor, a lieutenant governor and an attorney general. Plus all 100 seats of the House of Delegates. But how many voters will show up on Election Day?

As elections approach, political people will invariably say something to the effect of ‘it will all come down to turnout.’ Well duh. The candidate who gets the most votes wins, right?

Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics says a look at recent election cycles can offer a window into the kind of turnout we’ll see on Election Day.

“It looks like somewhere between 40% and about 45% of registered voters usually show up for a gubernatorial election in Virginia, at least based on recent gubernatorial contests.”

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says the difference between those two numbers will be the difference between winning and losing for the candidates at the top of the ticket.

“If turnout is closer to 40% this year, that’s a good day for Ed Gillespie. If it’s closer to 45%, that’s a good day for Ralph Northam. So the magic line between a Democratic victory and a Republican victory is somewhere in the lower 40% range.”

One factor that may end up helping Democrats: The primary between Northam and Tom Perriello had the highest turnout of any primary that wasn’t a presidential primary in the history of Virginia. Turnout on the Republican side was significantly lower.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association