What to Watch For on Election Night
There’s one more day to vote. You can vote between 7am and 7pm on Saturday, May 10. There will be absolutely no lines at any of the polling places, so it should only take you about 5-10 minutes. GO HERE TO FIND OUT WHERE TO VOTE.
Before we get into what to look for on election night, let’s recap where we are after Early Voting has ended:
- There were 2910 Early Voters – that appears to be the highest early voting number ever for a city election.
- District Breakdown of these voters:
- District 1 – 257
- District 2 – 842
- District 3 – 907
- District 4 – 878
- Average Age of early voters – 62 years old
- New Voters: 857 of them, or 29.45%, do not appear to have ever voted in a city election
- These new voters are slightly younger – average age is 58
- District 3 saw the biggest amount of new voters, accounting for 43% from that district alone
Below is a a great heat map created by Devin Taylor showing the concentration of Early Voters across the city:
If you want to pay attention to election night returns, no need to depend on a news source – you can go to the same website that all the news sources will be looking at and get it as soon as they do. Go to www.votedenton.com and click on the link for “Election Results.” Early Voting results will be released promptly at 7pm (when the polls close). Election Day results will likely be reported within the next 2 hours.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON SATURDAY NIGHT
EARLY VOTING NUMBERS ARE PREDICTIVE
Since 2008, Early Voting has accounted for 55-58.5% of the total votes in the election – and that trend has been on the rise. It is unclear how the high number of early voters translates here. If Early Voters account for 58% of the total vote count, then we can expect a total of about 5017 voters – a 1163 total vote increase from the last at-large election in 2012. If, on the other hand, we see a sharp trend upward in the percentage of total voters the early vote accounts for, that most likely means one or more candidates had a significant get out the vote push (which typically means they are getting their voters out for early voting).
In any case, past elections show that the early voter results are highly predictive of final vote percentages – even predictive on the amount of gains or slippage a certain candidate might see between the early voting results and election day results. Consider the last two at-large elections in 2012 and 2010
Two things can be learned from this. 1) Candidates can predict a 5% gain or slip from early voting results to election day results. This is tempered a bit, however, by a high early voter turnout – down to only a 1-3% change from the early voter results and the total cumulative results (combination of both early voting and election day voting). 2) Candidates viewed as the non-establishment candidates typically benefit from a 5% bump in election day voting results. In other words, if anyone serves to benefit from a bump in election day results, it will be the non-establishment candidate. In this election, I predict that the following candidates will benefit from this election day bump: Watts in the Mayor’s race, John Ryan in the District 2 race, and Hatice Salih in the Place 5 race.
If you see a candidate up by at least 5% after the Early Voting results are in, there is a high degree of probability that that candidate will retain their lead after the election day votes are in.
THE DONNA WOODFORK FACTOR – WILL THE MAYOR’S RACE HEAD TO A RUN-OFF?
Donna Woodfork ran for Mayor in 2012 and pulled in 7.57% of the vote. That resulted in neither of the other two candidates getting across the 50% line and a run-off was triggered. She ran for School Board in 2013 and pulled in 21.78% of the votes in her race against Mia Price. Let’s assume she brings in 6% of the votes in this election. To avoid a run-off in that scenario, one of the other two candidates (Watts or Schaake) will need to retain over a 6% spread above the other. That is a pretty high spread in what is expected to be a very tight race. Don’t be surprised if the mayor’s race continues into June with a run-off.
THE FRACK FREE PETITION IMPACT
The FrackFree Denton group turned in nearly 2000 signatures this week to force a council vote on their petition to ban hydraulic fracturing in Denton. If those signatures translate into votes, that would easily turn the tide in any of the contested races on the ballot. But while it is easy to get someone to sign a petition when you place it in front of them, it is much harder to get that same person to make a trip to the polling place. The Frack Free crowd came out strongly in support of Hatice Salih for the Place 5 seat against Dalton Gregory. She is the only candidate on the ballot to have signed the petition.
If Dalton Gregory wins the race, that will tell us two things. First, the nearly 2000 signatures for the petition didn’t translate into votes in this election. Second, it will be an early indication of the uphill battle for the FrackFree vote in a November election. If the group struggles to get their candidates in during a city election with 5000 or less total voters, a successful November General Election with around 25,000 total voters will be a tall order.