Where The Votes Are: Voter Loyalties Put To Test



When do voters cast ballots, and who do they cast their support toward when their favorite pol gets eliminated from a runoff? Those questions will be discussed at a precinct-by-precinct analysis this morning at SRQ Media Group’s Sarasota headquarters.

Continuing a trend in recent years, more voters cast ballots well before polls opened on March 14 for municipal elections in Sarasota, North Port and Longboat Key. Indeed, in North Port, more than half the votes cast in the special election were absentee ballots—2,176 of them—sent by mail, compared to 903 ballots cast at early voting and just 911 cast on the day of the election. In Sarasota and Longboat Key, voting at the polls remained the favored method of voting by a plurality of voters, but most still had made final selections before polls opened. In Sarasota, a combined 6,875 votes were cast before the election, compared to under 6,000 on the day of, and on the Key, nearly 2,400 votes were cast by mail or at Early Voting at City Hall, compared to under 1,300 who voted the day polls opened. 

But the most intriguing study at the Where The Votes Are workshop could involve the split loyalties of Sarasota city voters. The runoff for the Sarasota City Commission election, where voters are allowed to vote for two candidates to fill two seats, could be determined by how much support remaining candidates get from supporters of those opponents eliminated in March. Top vote-getter Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, for example, saw tremendous overlap between her support and that of eliminated incumbent Susan Chapman. Of the 2,719 who voted for Ahearn-Koch, 844 also backed Chapman, the greatest overlap in support between any of the eight candidates running in March. Likewise, a significant number of supporters of former Mayor Fredd Atkins also backed Ahearn-Koch. But what can’t be discerned is whether Ahearn-Koch was the first or second choice of voters, making it difficult to figure the intensity of her support.

Hagen Brody, the second-highest performer in the March election, saw the greatest overlap with supporters of Martin Hyde, the third-highest vote-getter and the last of the three candidates to make the runoff. Both Hyde and Martin can probably rely on supporters of the two of them to vote again, but the two remain in a three-person race for two seats. That makes support for opponents a risky base to rely upon. 

Complete breakdowns of cross-over supporter will be discussed at Where The Votes Are. Doors open at 7:45am, with a presentation beginning at 8am.

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