I think two districts in the Newark area (the 24th & the 27th state rep districts) and two in the C&D Canal area (state rep districts 8 & 9) are likely to have a greater than usual impact on overall countywide turnout & statewide turnout due to local state representative primaries.This affects only New Castle County-the 8th overlaps with 4 election districts in Kent County & 8 election districts in New Castle County,but Kent has no countywide primaries this election cycle. I looked at a few other off-year (2002 & 2006-nonpresidential election years) suburban Democratic primaries for comparison. The sample size is small due the limited number of primaries in Delaware,but may give us some ideas.
The 5th Rep District in the Bear-Glasgow area did not have a local primary in 2006 and out of 7,163 registered Democrats only 197 (2.75%) cast ballots in the primary on a ballot that included only New Castle County Register of Wills and U.S. Representative. 193 voted in the Congressional race and 192 voted in the Register of Wills race.
In 2002 Melanie George defeated William McMurray 376-33 in the 5th rep district,newly created after the 2002 reapportionment. Although 409 of 6,391 registered Democrats(about 6%) voted in the state rep race, only 360 voted in the Congressional primary. About 11% of the primary voters cast a ballot in the local state rep race and declined to vote in the U.S. Rep race.
2002 saw a primary in the reconfigured 16th rep district which is comprised of parts of the New Castle area and the Southbridge section of Wilmington. Former State Rep Herman Hollway, Jr attempted to unseat incumbent Bill Houghton and only lost by 30 votes in a contest that drew 1,696 votes. The U.S. Representative race only drew 1,420 votes for a voter dropoff at the top of the ballot of about 16% or 276 votes,There were 7,645 registered Democrats in 2002,so turnout was 18% for the U.S. Rep race with a 22% turnout in the state rep race.
In 2004 long time labor union activist James "JJ" Johnson won the 16th primary against Holloway,following Houghton's retirement.Johnson did not face a primary in 2006 and it appears the lack of a local primary impacted overall turnout.503 of 8,255 registered Democrats (6.09%) voted in 2006 in the 16th district. 455 of them voted in the U.S. Representative race which had fewer votes than the Register of Wills contest which drew 486 votes.
John Viola, state rep in the 26th rep district, did not have a primary in 2002. 153 votes were cast in the U.S. Representative primary that year. There were 5,842 registered Democrats in 2002,so the 153 votes would be about a 2.0% turnout. Viola had a primary in 2006 and won it 381-270 over Charles Tucker. While 651 people cast ballots in the state rep race, only 593 voted in the U.S. Representative race or a 8% drop off. 655 out of 6,276 (10.44%) voted, but only 4 of them did not vote in the state rep race .601 votes were cast in the Register of Wills race in the 26th, 8 more than the Congressional primary.
These examples would seem to indicate that the 8th,9th, 24th and 27th which have not held Democratic state rep primaries in recent years could easily see a doubling of the usual Democratic primary voter turnout in 2010 and that the state rep races might be more the beneficiary of the turnout than the countywide and statewide primaries. It also appears possible that more votes could be cast in the New Castle County Sheriff’s race than the State Treasurer’s race and Auditor’s race ,since in two of these three examples the Register of Wills drew more votes than the U.S. Representative race. Maybe this is more proof that “all politics is local”.
Here is a link to start with to research past primaries:
Here are specific links for the races discussed:
The New Castle County Board of Elections website does not offer voter registration figures for 2002, so the numbers used are the general election number from the 2002 Age,Party, Group report from the Delaware State Elections Commissioner’s website. The number used may not be exactly how many voters were registered on primary day since the general election is two months after the primary, but I believe it is fairly close and is the best available figure I could find on the web at this time.