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.