Voter Turnout Key to Mayoral Primary
Voter turnout will be the key to deciding many races on Tuesday's primary ballot, but political watchers say it will be crucial in the Erie mayor's race.
Voter turnout will be the key to deciding many races on Tuesday's primary ballot, but political watchers say it will be crucial in the Erie mayor's race. Seven democrats and two republicans are seeking their party's nod for mayor.
They have been campaigning hard, going door to door, speaking at forums and putting up plenty of campaign signs. Voter turnout over the last three mayoral primaries has ranged from 25 to 33%. County clerk of elections Doug Smith expects the turnout Tuesday to top that, with percentages in the high 30's to low 40's based on all the activity in the mayor's race. "I do believe that we'll see a good turnout tomorrow, given the number of candidates we have in the field...all of their supporters," Smith said. "We always see that when there are boots on the ground, in the form of supporters and money, in the form of advertising...that tends to drive turnout," he added.
The new chair of the political science department at Mercyhurst University says the most organized campaigns should win the day. "Turnout is absolutely everything," Dr. Joseph Morris said. "What we see in local elections is that the candidates who are the best organized, who have the best organized campaigns, are usually the ones that end up winning, and the reason for that is they're able to turnout the vote on election day."
Turnout will be crucial on the democratic ticket for mayor. There are 13,976 registered republicans, and 41,022 registered democrats in the city. With a 35% turnout, that would send 14,357 voters to the polls, and that number will be divided across seven candidates. "One way or another, that vote is going to be split," Dr. Morris explained. "Even if it's split fairly unevenly, the likely result is that we have a candidate winning the race with relatively few votes...we could be talking a thousand, 2-thousand or as few as just a couple hundred."
It's a mathematical puzzle the candidates have been trying to figure out in their internal polling for weeks. Now it's up to voters to move projections into reality when they cast their ballots. The polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m.