2013 Senate election voter demographics

This is the third in a series of posts that look at the voters of Lowell. The first broke down all registered voters by gender, party and age. The second analyzed the 9500 or so people who voted in the 2011 city election. Today’s post will look at those who voted in the 2013 special election for the United States Senate in which Ed Markey defeated Gabriel Gomez. One BIG caveat is that the voter turnout file provided by the city of Lowell only has 8472 names on it while more than 9500 people voted that day. It seems that chunks of data are omitted for several wards so that discrepancy will have to be reconciled by the election office. In the meantime, we’ll go with what we’ve got.

Seeing numbers for all registered voters, for those who participated in the 2011 city election, and for those participating in the 2013 Senate election seems to be the best way to present this data so that’s the order of the numbers that follow. The percentage of the whole that the number represents is in parenthesis next to the number.

Total vote – 54,943 (all registered) – 9513 (2011 city) – 8472 (2013 Senate)

Male – 26,771 (49%) – 4689 (49%) – 4302 (51%)
Female – 27978 (51%) – 4829 (51%) – 4159 (49%)

Democrats – 22,005 (40%) – 4480 (47%) – 3921 (46%)
Republicans – 4827 (9%) – 738 (8%) – 811 (10%)
Unenrolled – 27,731 (50%) – 4262 (45%) – 3712 (44%)

under 20 y/o – 1506 (3%) – 58 (1%) – 52 (1%)
20 – 29 y/o – 11,213 (20%) – 488 (5%) – 497 (6%)
30 – 39 y/o – 9876 (18%) – 902 (9%) – 771 (9%)
40 – 49 y/o – 9497 (17%) – 1628 (17%) – 1172 (14%)
50 – 59 y/o – 9967 (18%) – 2245 (24%) – 1995 (24%)
60 – 69 y/o – 6749 (12%) – 1973 (21%) – 2056 (24%)
70 – 79 y/o – 3413 (6%) – 1372 (14%) – 1192 (14%)
80 – 89 y/o – 2211 (4%) – 755 (8%) – 617 (7%)
90+ – 511 (1%) – 92 (1%) – 120 (1%)

Conclusion?

Gender doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Voters who are registered in a political party, especially Democrats, seem more likely to vote than those registered as unenrolled. (Democrats account for only 40% of registered voters but constituted 47% and 46% of those who voted in the city election and the Senate election).

People above the age of 50 are more likely to vote than those younger than 50. The prevailing wisdom in Lowell is that the biggest voting block is “the elderly” but these numbers raise some doubts about that assertion. A lot depends on how you define elderly, but it’s clear from these two elections that voters aged 50 to 69 are the biggest voting block in the city. In the 2011 city election, they constituted 45% of all voters and in the 2013 Senate race they constituted 48% of the whole. Those 70 and older are certainly likely to vote but there just aren’t that many voters in that age group. In the city election, voters 70 or older accounted for 23% of the total vote. In the Senate race it was 22% of the total.

Then there are young people whose rates of participation are very low. Consider those age 20 to 29. They account for 20% of all registered voters but only 5% and 6% of those who voted in the city and Senate elections. There are a couple of circumstances to consider here. First is that some chunk of this age cohort is college students, both Lowell residents away at school and students from elsewhere who are UMass Lowell dormitory residents (you’d be amazed at how many 20 year olds are registered at 100 Pawtucket Street which is the UML high rise dorm).

Then you have the Motor Voter Law. This is a Federal law passed after the 2000 election which required states to allow people to register to vote when they are at the department of motor vehicles. Younger people are more likely to have interacted with the registry than middle age or older people. When registering to vote requires a special trip to City Hall, those who take the trouble to register might also be motivated to actually vote. When registering to vote only requires checking another box on an RMV document, you can’t really infer that the person so registering is all that motivated to vote. (And I’m not knocking Motor Voter; I’m just pointing out that it may be a factor in registering a lot of politically disinterested young people who then drive down the participation percentages for that age cohort).

So those are a couple of observations. The next post will scrutinize the demographics of those who voted in both the 2011 city election and in the 2013 Senate election. Preview: even though the turnout in both elections was about the same, the overlap was only about 50%.

2 Responses to 2013 Senate election voter demographics

  1. Nancy P says:

    One unscientific observation: I found that some who register to vote at the RMV seem to think that they will get “notification” from the city telling them that they are registered to vote – i.e.where their voting site is. They seemed genuinely surprised that they could vote and had not had any notification from the city. Not knocking registering at the RMV, but when you check that box, that does mean you can vote – and you don’t get any confirmation.

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