BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As we gear up for November’s midterm election, this week marks a crucial first deadline.
Friday is the last day for those considering a run in this fall’s midterm to file candidacy paperwork.
But the biggest topic in November may not be the candidates or the issues, but rather, whether voters simply show up to the polls and ballot box.
After a 2020 election with record turnout nationwide, California’s 2022 primary saw nearly two-thirds of registered voters sit out, the lowest turnout figure in the last three nominating contests.
“The legislature has taken away what we used to have, which was a primary where a Republican or a Democrat won, and that those two faced off in the general,” Republican political analyst Cathy Abernathy said.
Turnout in primary elections, especially in midterms, is expected to be lower than turnout in the general, but Abernathy said California’s jungle primary format contributes to low interest across the state.
When it comes to Kern specifically, the county came in at the fifth lowest turnout in the state, with over 20% fewer voters turning in a ballot this June than in last fall’s gubernatorial recall.
“A lot of Republican voters vote. And there has been wind kind of taken out of the sails because the recall failed so horribly,” Democratic political analyst Neel Sannappa said.
Sannappa said GOP voters in Kern may have been less motivated this June because of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s victory last September.
Abernathy noted other counties holding special elections in June that immediately put a candidate in office could be factor in Kern’s low numbers in comparison, but said overall, the primary was still a win for the GOP.
“In this county Republicans had a very high turnout,” Abernathy said.
About 20% more Republicans voted in Kern in the primary than Democrats and when it comes to Kern’s most contentious races, such as the 22nd Congressional and 16th Senate, how many voters each party can get to the polls in November could be key.