Broward 2018 – First Majority Minority Midterm?

2006-2016 Ethnic Breakdown

2018’s General Election Makeup is On the Cusp of Change

As we enter the home stretch of the 2018 General Election campaign, what will the voter makeup look like for our County? Broward County has been majority minority for quite a few years, but minority voting has lagged. In the 2016 general election, the White Voter base dropped to 47.54%, but going back to 2006 (last data published by Supervisor of Elections), ethnic turnout has been dramatically different for midterms and Presidential Elections.

Ethnic Swings Between Midterms and Presidential Elections

For the recent elections, 2014 was 59.9% White, 26.7% Black, and 14.2% Hispanic. In the 2016 Presidential Year, it was 52.3% White, 25.7% Black, and 22% Hispanic. Contrary to conventional Wisdom, Barack Obama being at the top of the ticket seemed to have little impact on the Black percentage of the voter base, just a general upward trend in broward county (Others removed from this analysis for simplicity).

2016 General Election Ethnic Breakdown
2014 General Election Ethnic Breakdown

Do these swings matter? Absolutely. For Partisan races, black voters break between 4:1 and 9:1 Democratic. Hispanic voters in Florida tend to vote 3:2 Democratic depending on portion of the state. But Broward is a weird county in transition. Two pieces of conventional wisdom should give us pause, since they are subtly contradictory:

  1. Midterm Elections are predominately Whiter and Older
  2. The “Out Party” tends to dominate Midterms

Datasets and Timing

Most political reporters are young, and big data sets for elections are relatively new, which creates a strong recency bias. Since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, we’ve had a quarter century of two-term Presidencies alternating parties. This means that if you start any dataset other than 2002-2016, you’re going to have an unbalanced set of winners. As American politics have hit near parity since 2000, if you don’t include 4 Presidential and 4 Midterm elections in your dataset, you’re going to have a strong bias towards one party in the general, and the other when looking at midterms… working on the mathematically sound basis that years that Republicans win are years that they outperform and the years that Democrats win are years that Democrats outperform. This is mathematically tautological, can only be diagnosed after the election, but illustrates the importance of choosing long enough data sets to not be biased towards the recent winner.

You’ll note that Turnout goes up and down in sync in Broward County. The Republicans outperformed in 2010 and 2014 (Strong GOP years as the outparty), but Democrats outperformed in 2006, a strong Democratic Year as the out party.
Party Turnout Over Time

Turnout should be about 50% for both parties. If it’s as expected, and a strong Democratic year as the outparty, we should see a blue line above the red line. However, Broward County’s turnout has improved over the past 12 years, and both parties should expect a strong turnout.

Ethnic Trends Predict a Different Broward County

Ethnic Turnout Percentages over time

Things get more interesting in the Ethnic Turnout Patterns. Turnout is up overtime in Broward County, but it’s ethnically interesting. It is assumed that Barack Obama heading the Democratic Ticket caused a growth in Black Voter turnout, and in Broward, like nationally, Black Turnout exceeded White Turnout. What’s interesting is that in 2012 and 2016, the same thing happened. Black Turnout that was depressed in 2006 (A Democratic Wave Election) now looks like White Turnout. Hispanic Turnout reached parity in 2016, and it is possible that that continues into 2018.

If Hispanic Turnout, like Black Turnout, has now reached near-parity, then we will see a majority minority midterm for the first time in Broward County, with a 48% White, 23% Black, 19% Hispanic, and 9% Other voter base. If Hispanic Turnout reverses to its previous midterm status, expect to see an electorate that is 54% White, 24% Black, 14% Hispanic, and 8% Other.

Florida’s Top of the Ticket Race, Governor, is a Black candidate. This gives a certain superficial similarity to 2008 and 2012, where Barack Obama was the top of the ticket race.

Non-Partisan Races Should Prepare for a Range of Options

The Black portion of the electorate has been pretty stable between 22% and 25% since becoming serious voters in 2008. Given the remaining at parity in 2016, it seems unlikely that it regresses to the 2006 40% Turnout Rate, which would drop down down to 110,000 black voters. Assuming that 2018 is a Democratic year (as the out party) with a 50% Black Turnout, 140,000 Black Voters seems more likely.

White Turnout is more constant, hovering in the 45% – 50% range, including both 2006 and 2010, alternating wave years. This puts the white voter base between 235,000 and 260,000.

Hispanic Turnout is the wildcard, if the near parity of 2016 is real, we could expect turnout of 45%. If Hispanic Turnout regresses to the prior levels, then 30% is more likely. With the massive growth of Hispanic voters, that puts Hispanic Voter turnout at between 75,000 and 115,000 Voters, a wider range than the larger white voter base. Campaigns would be well to direct their resources handling both scenarios.

Best Guess? What will 2018 Broward Turnout Look like

I am prepared to guess that Black and Hispanic Turnout will be on the high end of their ranges, White turnout will be in the average for the range. That places us with 250,000 White Voters, 140,000 Black Voters, and 115,000 Hispanic Voters, plus another 40,000 “other” voters. With a total voter base of 545,000 voters, how campaigns get to 275,000+ votes will require multi-ethnic coalitions. I’m also predicting that White Voters are going to be 46% of the electorate, our first majority minority midterm general election.

2018 Ethnic Breakdown Prediction

Note: Charts above ignore “other” so the percentages are off. To illustrate my minority-majority prediction, I added them back in.

Young Technoratis – Old Problem, College or Coding

One of the most dangerous things is how young reporters are… this isn’t new… same thing happened in the 90s Internet Gold Rush. A few drop-outs hit it big and make the news, plenty of others are languishing in careers that are very limited by not having the college degree…  The New York Times articles, The Youngest Technorati identifies teenage app developers and their call to Silicon Valley.

As a 23 year old programmer, it doesn’t matter if you have a college degree, 4 years experience might matter more… At 30 when you want to head development at a startup or otherwise, that degree matters… At 35 when you want senior development opportunities, that masters that seemed a waste of a year or two at 21 comes in handy…

Making $30k developing apps is AWESOME when you’re 16 and living at home… it doesn’t go that far at 35 when you have a wife and kids…  There is always a fresh supply of 17 year old talent willing to live on Ramen Noodles coding in Silicon Valley.  While a few will hit it rich, most will find their career and life stalls without the college degree.  Light loading my senior year to start an Internet Business seemed like a good move at the time, but more serious studies as a junior/senior and doing the 5th year masters would have paid dividends at this point in my career, and going forward.

Many recent graduates work jobs that “don’t require a college degree” in their 20s, the problem is, without the piece of paper and what it symbolizes, your career will start strong and top off fast.

Unless you have the family backing to go for the gold rush, then return home and go to college in 8 years if you aren’t a billionaire, better to push real life off a few years.  It’s much harder to go to school as real life places more and more demands on you.

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Beyond Relational Databases: Is Your Data Relational?

One of the strangest things about technology is how it moves in circles.  The relational database isn’t new technology, and while many changes to the storage model and the performance of the system has changed, the underlying concept is the same.  The leading databases, except for Oracle, all bare SQL in the name, giving the impression that SQL was critical to the concept of the relational database, not merely a front end language for describing access to relational data.

Web sites fit nicely into a relational model.  They have categories, articles, products, etc., sets of data.  The idea of applying set theory to data is at the core of the relational database.  I can quickly and easily get all Articles in the Category of SEO, because those fields are tagged, and I simply pull the appropriate subset.  You can always get intersections (with JOINs), unions, set deletes (EXCEPT), and other set operations… if you are using sets of data.

Martin Kleppmann asks, on Carsonified, Should you go Beyond Relational Databases? That’s the wrong question to ask.  The question is, “Is your data relational?”  If you have groupings of like data, then you need a relational database.  If you are building an application with non-relational data, then storing it in the database to have a quick id look up is foolish, and you should be looking for persistent data storage that is optimized for that sort of data.

For temporary storage, a system like memcached is perfect, it gives you lightning fast references to data that may only exist temporarily.  For a long term storage, maybe a database is your answer, or maybe you need something more tied to your data structure.  We wouldn’t suggest Microsoft switch from it’s DOC format (and the Docx XML version) to relational databases, but I wouldn’t put relational data into something more object oriented.  You might use objects to represent it in memory for easier programming, but if the data is essentially relational, keep it in relations.

Data structures are at the core of computer science.  With all the free information out there, there is no excuse to be building a large scale system without knowing the basics.  The fact that Twitter built their operation without knowing what they were doing doesn’t mean that everyone can… Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and made a fortune, not every Harvard drop-out is so successful.