Youth, Minorities Lean Democratic, But Don't Vote



Among registered Sarasota County voters under the age of 30, Democrats now outnumber Republicans. Among black and Hispanic voters in both Sarasota and Manatee counties, Democrats outnumber Republicans buy an enormous ratio. But Republicans still dominate most elections in the region because the demographics mostly likely to support Democrats are also the ones most likely to sit elections out. This trend bore out in an SRQ Media Group analysis of the August 30 primary results, which will be the subject of a Where The Votes Are event being held at SRQ headquarters today at 7:45am. 

In the primary, ballots came primarily from older white voters, groups that heavily lean Republican. The result, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats in Sarasota 40,962 to 26,978 and in Manatee County 33,996 to 18,985. Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent says much of that can be attributed to the local nature of the races. While there were a couple of statewide primaries, the races being settled in August were for posts like state representative of school board. “A lot of young people just don’t see the value in their other elected officials besides president,” Dent says.

And Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett says he has seen less effort this year to drive up participation in under-represented groups this cycle. “We don’t see anybody really working it this year,” Bennett says. Both Bennett and Dent are Republicans.

As an example of racial disparity, black Democrats in Manatee County outnumber black Republicans in registration 11,908 to 596. But turnout among black voters in the county on August 30 was just 18.56 percent. Comparatively, white voters, a demographic where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 92,023 to 49,019, came out at a rate of 29.08 percent. While white voters vastly outnumber black voters in the county, the difference in turnout increased that disparity, with black voters making up just 4.57 percent of the electorate while white voters made up 90.83 percent of the vote. Similar differences can be seen in age brackets. Among voters under age 40, turnout was well under 10 percent in both counties. Among voters between age 70 and 90, turnout was north of 41 percent in Sarasota County and above 46 percent in Manatee.

But one thing that did rise in terms of participation this year was mail-in voting. A full 49 percent of all votes cast in Sarasota this election were cast by mail, Dent says. In Manatee, more than 60 percent of votes were delivered that way. “If the Democrats push more voting by mail, they will get a higher turnout,” Bennett predicts.

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