Early indications are pointing to a high turnout in Pierce County for this general election. As of Monday, 53,414 Pierce County ballots had been returned – or 15 percent of the total. That’s up about 2 percentage points from the same point during the 2006 election.
A heavy turnout would be in line with Secretary of State Sam Reed’s earlier prediction of 66 percent statewide turnout, which would be the highest midterm turnout in recent decades. Reed credited the competitive Senate race, high-profile initiatives and other races with helping to stoke voter interest.
In Pierce County, voter participation varies widely depending on geography. Already, we’re seeing this pattern in primary election returns. (Click on the map to see the percentage of ballots returned as of Monday.)
Historically, here’s the trend we’ve seen with turnout for each district.
So what does any of this mean for the results – particularly in the Rossi-Murray Senate race, where Pierce County could be a deciding factor? Obviously, both sides want their most loyal voters to turn out.
It’s hard to generalize, because the districts don’t neatly cleave to voting patterns. But based on past results, Democrats will be hoping for heavy turnout in the deep blue 27th District. In 2008, participation in that district jumped 7.5 percentage points from 2004, indicating a strong Democratic showing. Republicans will be hoping for good turnout in the heavily red 2nd and 31st districts as an indicator that their base is showing up. The real battle may come down to the suburban swing districts – including the 25th and 28th, where competitive legislative races are also in the balance.