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ArlingtonPrognostication: Arlington election turnout to be so-so

Prognostication: Arlington election turnout to be so-so

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By the time Election Day is over, one prognosticator believes just under half of the Arlington electorate will have cast ballots.

Former county treasurer Frank O’Leary on Sept. 29 issued his first turnout prediction of the season.

“My bet is that between 74,000 and 78,000 of the approximately 155,000 active voters” will participate in the election,” said O’Leary who has made predicting turnout (and sometimes results) a pastime in recent years.

That would be a “relatively low” turnout by county standards, O’Leary said.


In Arlington, an election where the U.S. House of Representatives race is at the top of the ballot is a once-every-12-years phenomenon, which in the past four occurrences has seen an average turnout of 49.1 percent of Arlington voters. By contrast, years when U.S. Senate races topped the ballot drew an average turnout of 60.2 percent, while presidential years drew an average 82 percent.

Since 1990, when Arlington was moved from the 10th Congressional District to the 8th, no Republican has held the seat and the district has moved progressively to the left.

“Turnout in the House year was obviously higher in days of yore, when political contests between the two parties were always contested and extremely competitive,” said O’Leary, who was elected treasurer in 1983 and served just over three decades in office.

This year, Republican Karina Lipsman is putting up a spirited fight, but few expect her to significantly dilute the performance of incumbent U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Independent Teddy Fikre also is in the race.

Nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion may be motivating some people to the polls, but in Arlington, most who are keyed in on that issue already are politically active, the former treasurer said.

Nor, does O’Leary believe, will the Arlington County Board race push turnout higher, as Democrat Matt de Ferranti is likely to withstand a challenge from independents Audrey Clement and Adam Theo.

“Will Clement’s ninth run for County Board galvanize the electorate? I think not,” O’Leary opined.

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