Turnout turned off

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Turnout in the City of Tulsa mayor's race fell from 77,341 in 2006 to 66,632, a drop of nearly 14%, albeit still higher than the turnout for 2002's Bill LaFortune-Gary Watts contest of 65,592.

The most turned-off precinct in raw numbers was Precinct 168, between S. Sheridan and S. Memorial, 61st St. and 66th St. Only three-quarters of the 2006 voters cast a vote for mayor this year. The total of votes for all candidates fell from 672 to 495, a drop of 26%.

The biggest meaningful percentage drop is harder to gauge. Precinct 180 had three voters three years ago, but none this year, a 100% loss. Among precincts with at least 100 voters in 2006, the biggest falloff was in Precinct 162, the Oral Roberts University precinct, from 136 to 61, a 55% drop. Changes in the school administration and political science department may mean less of an emphasis on getting out-of-town students registered and actively voting in Tulsa elections.

Precinct 90's turnout was also cut in half, falling from 182 to 90. Precinct 90 is mainly industrial but includes the apartment complexes and duplexes around Fontana Center, northwest of 51st and Memorial. Most of that drop came at Tom Adelson's expense. Kathy Taylor won the precinct in 2006; perhaps her campaign made a special effort to drive turnout in the precinct.

Precinct 105, 129th East Ave. to 145th East Ave., 31st St. S. to 36th St. S., lost 36% of its voters. Adelson was hardest hit. Taylor narrowly won the precinct in 2009; Bartlett Jr had as many votes as Adelson and Perkins combined. In fact, Perkins nearly beat Adelson here. While this area is mostly single-family homes, there are two large apartment complexes here. Other precincts with big drops, disproportionately affecting the Democratic result, are also home to large apartment complexes. Did the Adelson campaign fail to reach and motivate renters to vote, where the Taylor campaign succeeded?

Here's another, smaller data point: Precinct 159, which consists of a couple of mobile home communities southwest of 41st and US 169. 58 voters in 2006; 30 voters in 2009. The Democratic result fell by 29 votes from Taylor to Adelson.

When updated voter history information is available next month, we'll be able to compare candidate results to the party registration of those who voted, and we'll also be able to see which 2009 voters cast a ballot in 2006 and which are first-time city election voters. When I get the auditor race's numbers entered, that will make for an interesting comparison as well.

District 5 was the most turned-off part of the city -- turnout down by 21.8% or 1748 votes. That was also Mark Perkins's best district, where he received 21.3% of the vote. District 4, with a hotly-contested council race, only had a 9.1% falloff of 797 votes.

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Michael. The reason the ORU precinct saw such a drop off is that they were all working for Randi Miller in the primary. That process got them tuned into the race, so when the general came around, all those ORU activists went for LaFortune.

Good point, Chris. I think it's unlikely, given the changes at ORU, that we'll see such an administration- or faculty-encouraged political mobilization of students ever again, certainly not for a local election.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 16, 2009 12:02 AM.

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