Politics

Two weeks out, Calif. GOP flexes turnout compared to 2020. Here’s who is showing up to vote in Valley races.

With less than two weeks to go until the Midterm Election, California is seeing far fewer Democrats and more Republicans showing up to vote at this point compared to the heated 2020 presidential election.

According to data updated Tuesday – exactly two weeks out from the election – just under 1.6 million ballots have been returned so far. 

California reached that marker 21 days out from the election in 2020, a full week quicker than this cycle. 

With over 21.8 million ballots in total sent out – courtesy of California’s COVID-era universal vote-by-mail laws – only seven percent of voters have returned their ballots. 

Of the ballots returned, 49 percent are from Democrats, 28 percent from Republicans and 23 percent from other voters. 

At this point in 2020, Democrats had returned 56 percent of the ballots, Republicans 21 percent and other voters 23 percent. 

When 1.6 million ballots were returned in 2020, 58 percent of them were from Democrats, 20 percent from Republicans and 22 percent from other voters. 

Turnout similarly downbeat across the Valley floor

So far in the race for the 22nd Congressional District, which has Rep. David Valadao (R – Hanford) pitted against Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield), only two percent of voters have returned their ballots. 

Forty-one percent of the ballots are from Democrats, 39 percent from Republicans and 20 percent from others. 

The data out of the Valadao-Salas contest, however, comes with a considerable caveat: Sources in the south Valley have questioned unusually low vote-by-mail data from Kern County, the largest single county in America’s most-expensive House contest.

The prevailing view is that the county is vastly underreporting ballot compared to the real flow.

Kern County is notoriously vexing to political watchers, with glacially-slow vote count updates and – in 2022 – opaque public reporting of candidates on the ballot.

Meanwhile, in 13th Congressional District – the race between Asm. Adam Gray (D–Merced) and nursery owner John Duarte (R–Modesto) – has been better with six percent of ballots already in from Merced, Stanislaus, Madera and Fresno counties.

By party, those ballots break down to be 45 percent from Democrats, 36 percent from Republicans and 19 percent from others. 

The new 21st Congressional District is on par with its neighbor to the north as six percent of ballots have been returned in the race featuring Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and Republican Michael Maher. 

The returned ballots are divvied up at 49 percent from Democrats, 33 percent from Republicans and 18 percent from others. 

In the 20th Congressional District, which sees House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) up against Democrat Marisa Wood, an estimated four percent of the ballots have been returned. 

Unlike the other districts, however, 50 percent are from Republican voters, 32 percent from Democrats and 18 percent from others.

Similar to the Valadao-Salas contest, the new 20th District has vast swaths of Kern County, which may be underreporting turnout.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.