You’ll recall when I crunched the numbers on the 10 a.m. turnout report for Roanoke, we spotted what I called some “danger signs for Democrats.” Basically, turnout in the city was down across the board, but a) because Roanoke tends to be Democratic, that was generally bad news for the D’s, and b) more specifically, turnout was down more in the strongest Democratic precincts than it was in the Republican ones.
Now the 3 p.m. turnout figures are in, and I’ve crunched the same numbers and found . . . things now look better for the Democrats. Turnout in the strongest Democratic precincts is up, at levels close to 2008 — while turnout still lags in the strongest Republican precincts.
There is a theory, though, we should float, as to why turnout appears down, both there, and also in neighboring (and quite Republican) Roanoke County and Salem. We’ve heard reports all day of long lines — perhaps bottlenecks caused by new voter ID law? In any case, if you’re in line, you haven’t checked in yet, so your presence won’t be reflected in the turnout figures provided by the registrars.
So it could be that turnout isn’t down at all! In fact, it might be up. We just don’t know. That’s a very important point to consider.
Likewise, before I present the crunched 3 p.m. numbers, it’s possible that explains why turnout remains down in some of the GOP strongholds in the city — perhaps those folks are still in line?
In any case reports of lower turnout, much like the early reports of Mark Twain’s death, might be turn out to be greatly exaggerated.
Let’s go back to the precincts we looked at this point. First, the strongest Democratic precincts from four years ago — their 3 p.m. turnout then, and their 3 p.m. turnout now. The ones in bold have matched or exceeded their 2008 pace:
* Eureka Park (Obama 98%) – 864 then, 767 now
* Melrose (Obama 97%) – 612 votes then, 654 now
* Lincoln Terrace (Obama 95%) – 594 then, 552 now
* Villa Heights (Obama 94%) – 1132 then, 676 now
* Westside (Obama 86%) : 712 then, 686 now
* Highland No. 1 (Obama 83%): 469 then, 561 now
* Washington Heights (Obama 76%) – 1,523 then, 1523 now
So while at 10 a.m., the Democrats were running 1,300 votes behind 2008 in those precincts, now they’re only about 500 votes behind. And notice the one precinct that’s way down: Villa Heights. In fact, lo, it’s about 500 votes short of last time. Yet we also know there are huge lines there, as documented with photos in this post over on columnist Dan Casey’s blog.
Now let’s turn to the city’s strongest Republican precincts from four years ago.
* South Roanoke 2 (McCain 59%) – 1,307 then, 1,248 now
* Garden City (McCain 57%) — 1,208 then, 1,132 now
* Lee-Hi(McCain 58%) – 1,826 then, 1,544 now
* Williamson Road 2 (McCain 55%) –597 then, 588 now
* Monterey (McCain 55%) — 1,145 then, 1049
* Williamson Road 6 (McCain 54%) — 726 then, 688 now
* South Roanoke 1 (McCain 54%) – 875 then, 900 now
So at 10 a.m., the Republicans were 882 votes off their pace from four years ago. Now, they’re more than 1,600 votes off the pace. Indeed, just one of their top precincts has exceeded its mark from last time.
Bottom line: While the Democrats are closing in on their 2008 levels, the Republicans in the city appear to be falling behind — at least in those precincts. Keep in mind there are lots of others, who fall somewhere in between being Democratic or Republican strongholds.
And, as noted, this could all simply be attributed to long lines.
The polls are open for another hour yet — and anyone in line at 7 p.m. gets to vote, no matter how long it takes.
– Dwayne Yancey