Political leaders left an SRQ-led Where The Votes Are event anxious to find ways to motivate voters to polls this year. The precinct-by-precinct analysis of the August 30 primary elections in Sarasota and Manatee counties showed voters registered with the Democratic or Republican parties turned out at nearly three times the rate of voters registered third party or with no party affiliation. When general election contests come on November 8, victors will be decided on who motivates the most supporters to come out when it most counts.
Contributing Senior Editor Jacob Ogles led the discussion, which showed Republicans with the highest turnout, with 32.2 percent coming out in Sarasota County and 34.68 percent turning out in Manatee County. “Jacob’s ability to break down the vote totals and turnout numbers by precincts and demographics helps give me insight to the Republican Party’s successes and areas we should focus more on in the future,” says Christian Ziegler, Republican state committeeman for Sarasota County. The event drew out candidates like Joe Gruters, the Republican Party of Sarasota chairman who narrowly won a state House primary in District 73 by carrying all Sarasota precincts even while losing Manatee County to conservative activist Steve Vernon. And with demographics favoring groups that tend to vote Republican, the study of the results in August portends well for GOP performance in November.
But Democrats arrived anxious to find a path to victory themselves. Fredd Atkins, former Sarasota mayor and current Sarasota County Commission candidate, hopes to run a different type of campaign and find victory, and Manny Lopez, now the Democratic nominee challenging state Rep. Julio Gonzalez’s re-election in District 74, was anxious to learn which voters could be activated. Cramer Verde, president of the Hispanic Caucus for the Democratic Party of Sarasota County, said at the event that a growing number of naturalized citizens anxious to vote in this year’s presidential election could shift turnout. In August, 11.85 percent of Sarasota Hispanics turned out. “I appreciate the minutes you took to talk about the Hispanic vote,” Cramer says. “I don’t think either party is giving them importance—at least not yet.”