On Tuesday, count to 12 million
Secretary of State Kevin Shelley today forecast that more than 12 million Californians will cast ballots on Tuesday — about 1 million more than voted in the presidential election four years ago. The 12 million number would be reached if turnout reaches or surpasses Shelley's prediction that 73 percent of those registered will vote.
If that is accurate, turnout would be the highest since 1992, when 75.3 percent of registered Californians voted. Shelley said he based his projection on a surge in absentee ballots issued (4.3 million issued this year; 3 million cast in 2000) and a stampede of new voter registrations. Since about Labor Day, Shelley noted, about 1 million new registrations have been added to the rolls.
Those are the statistics. The anecdotes of voter passion this time around are even more persuasive. Pollster Ben Tulchin of the California firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, told me recently he's never seen an election in which poll respondents are quite so assertive about their opinions.
"The last time was polarized," he said, "but there wasn't the sense that if the other person wins it's the end of the world." Tulchin told of a focus group he conducted in Florida the day of the final presidential debate. "We had two women who almost got into a fight. We had to step in to get them to settle down. These were supposedly undecided voters. Even the undecided voters aren't undecided."