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Report: California Voter Registration Experiencing ‘Historic Growth’

May 9, 2016 1:30 p.m.

Report: California Voter Registration Experiencing 'Historic Growth'


Vince Vasquez, senior policy analyst, National University System Institute for Policy Research

Correction: San Diego mayoral candidate Lori Saldaña was incorrectly referred to as a Democrat in this segment. She is an independent.

Related Story: Report: California Voter Registration Experiencing 'Historic Growth'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Early voting begins today. Vote by mail ballots will be mailed out by the San Diego County registrar of voters. This is when the June primary gets real. There are a lot of newly registered photos, how they'll vote and if they will vote will make a difference. Joining me is Vince Vasquez, senior analyst for National University System for Policy Research . Welcome to the program. How many newly registered voters are there?
Last count there was 122,000 new voters that a registered since January 1. In San Diego County, this is only looking at the last 3 1/2 months. We expect by the deadline, later this month on the 23rd, that it could be 200,000.
Is this phenomenon happen across California?
Yes. Experts found that it's historic in terms of the surge. The last time we saw an increase in registration before a primary, you have to go back to Ronald Reagan in 1980, this shows what's happening. There's a lot of interest on both sides in terms of knowing the candidate, having strong opinions, and making sure their voices heard.
Are the voters signing up as Democrats or Republicans?
It's largely Democratic, some independent. We found the majority of these voters are Millennials, aged 18 to 34.
Anything else interesting about the demographic makeup?
They are more diverse. If you see from prior presidential primaries, who these voters are, they fit the profile of Sanders supporters. Feeling the burn, still resonates.
You are assuming, rightly so, the presidential race is motivating dispersed in registration. When you were talking about voter turnout, that can influence local races, as well. What kind of voter turnout are you projecting for San Diego?
It's about 50%, overall. Based upon the earlier primary states when independents can vote in a Democratic or Republican primary, turnout has turned to be anywhere from 44% to 50%. We have a lot of local ballot measures, we have races for mayor, city Council, supervisor, and the money those campaigns spend will turn up the vote more.
Is that turnout rate going to be affected in any way, by the fact that on the Republican side it looks as if the race is over?
Certainly cell. You saw when Ted Cruz and John Kasich had withdrawn, a lot of people reduced projections for turnout. Originally I predicted 57%, I think 53% is reflective that there are motivated voters that want to cast a ballot.
What San Diego races do you think might feel the impact?
With the exception of those presidential contests, I think you'd have another red primary. Now, you have a number of progressives who can make an impact. The San Diego city attorney's race, where wisdom is this is effectively a race for second place. Last time, we had a similar race dynamic, you can go to 2013 with the special election, that race came down to the difference of about 3700 votes. Similarly, if we see these dynamics you can see these new millennial voters might be casting ballots in terms of the difference of victory.
Do you see an impact in the San Diego Mayor's race?
No. You need to see a higher level of earlier polling and support for candidates. That's reflective and money that's raised, I don't see the money that's been raised by the challengers to be anything close to competitive. If that were to change then we could change our projection, not at this time.
What about the only competitive race, the supervisors race?
We are projecting that to go to a runoff election. We don't think Dave Roberts has raised enough money and earn enough support to make that a win in June. We are projecting that to be a tossup between who makes that runoff election with him.
Any surprises in city Council districts 1, 3, and 9?
District 9, Florez might win outright. It may be the Sanders voters. We don't know enough about that race. I'm curious.
Where can people find this brief?
It's available on our website. And US
I've been speaking with Vince fact get -- Vasquez senior analyst at National University System for Policy Research .