By B.C. Manion
Voter turnout is notoriously low for primary elections during non-presidential years, but the stakes are enormous for political office-seekers.
When votes are tallied Tuesday, some candidates will win a spot on the ballot for November’s general election, others will dismantle campaign teams and pick up yard signs and some will secure a seat in office.
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard said he doesn’t make predictions regarding the percentage of voter turnout, but is “preparing for a good primary” in terms of numbers.
Meanwhile, next door in Pasco County, Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley is predicting a turnout of 24 percent to 25 percent. That’s up from the 20 percent that normally turns out for a primary midterm election, he said.
Early results in Pasco show that Republicans are turning out in larger numbers than Democrats, Corley said. He suspects that may be due to the heated campaign between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott to be the party’s nominee for governor.
Political analyst Susan MacManus said “the turnout is a big question mark.”
The hot political races may prompt voters to go to the polls to express their desires, or the bitter campaigning may turn them off, said MacManus said, a political science professor at the University of South Florida.
“The negativity has reached a crescendo and it is about to burst,” MacManus said.
Registered Republicans and Democrats in Pasco have a lot of decisions to make: They’ll decide who they want on the November ballot for U.S. Senate, for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, for governor, attorney general, state senate, state house and county commission.
But voters affiliated with political parties aren’t the only ones who have a stake in the primary, MacManus said.
“A huge number (of people) have no clue that you can vote in the judicial races and in the school board races, even if you’re not a registered Democrat or Republican,” MacManus said.
Even if they turn out, many voters fail to exercise their full voting rights, Corley said.
Some voters cast ballots in high-profile races and then ignore the rest of the contests in a phenomenon known as “ballot drop off,” Corley said.
He questions that logic.
“Who has greater impact on our day-to-day lives than the school board that has a billion-dollar budget and is the largest employer?” Corley asked.
One race that will be interesting to watch is the State Senate District 12 race, pitting State Rep. Kevin Ambler against Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman, MacManus said.
She noted that both Republicans have courted Pasco County voters more heavily than Hillsborough candidates have done in the past.
“These candidates have really figured out that they need the votes of Pasco County,” she said.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.