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Local voters can drop off their completed ballots at an official drop box located inside the front entrance of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
Local voters can drop off their completed ballots at an official drop box located inside the front entrance of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
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Early voting in Blakespear, Gunderson race exceeds state average

ENCINITAS — While many anticipate a lower overall voter turnout for this year’s midterm election, ballots cast in California’s 38th State Senate District race between Democrat Catherine Blakespear and Republican Matt Gunderson have exceeded statewide averages, according to recent data. 

As of Monday, approximately 18% of voters in District 38 have already returned their ballots, compared to a statewide average of 11%, according to data collected by Political Data Intelligence, a polling organization that tracks statewide election results. 

So far, 42% of voters who have returned ballots are registered Democrats, while 34% are Republicans, according to the data, with 24% of voters having returned ballots being registered as independent or other party affiliations.

Blakespear, who currently serves as the mayor of Encinitas and chair of SANDAG, and Gunderson are both running for the 38th District seat, vying to replace State Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), who has been termed out of office. 


Paul Mitchell, a political data consultant for Redistricting Partners, said it’s difficult to make any assessments about what districtwide voter turnout levels could mean for the closely-watched race covering North County San Diego and South Orange County, and it’s also hard to compare this year’s elections with past midterm elections.

“It’s hard to make predictions here based on the recent elections,” Mitchell said. “In 2018, not everybody got a ballot because that’s how it was before COVID when they decided to mail ballots to every voter. And in 2020, you had a presidential election, Trump vs. Biden. We’re in a vacuum in terms of having recent comparables. Yes, the Democratic turnout is higher than Republicans, but we don’t know what to make of that.

“It used to be the case that Republican turnout was earlier, and that was common practice because Republicans tend to vote by mail and made up their minds earlier, while Democrats were later in voting. Dems outperforming a little bit (right now) — its independents who are underperforming so far, only 24% votes returned by them,” Mitchell continued. “Now, is that because of increased partisanship or because more young people are independents? I don’t know. Half the ballots returned are from seniors, and only 10,000 ballots returned from young people. Commonly, young people don’t vote early, and it’s also true that young people tend to be independents. So these campaigns really should be focusing on turning out young voters.” 

Thad Kousser, a political scientist at UCSD, agreed with Mitchell that pollsters should be cautious about reading too much into the early turnout figures. 

“It’s hard to read the tea leaves of the early turnout figures,” Kousser said. “Even though Election Day has really turned into election month in California, the majority of voters are still going to cast their ballots in the last week of the election — we still procrastinate.

“Election procedures have changed, but human nature hasn’t. The people who turned in ballots early are not necessarily representative of the electorate. They tend to be older, and they tend to be Democrats in these early stages, but that doesn’t mean that Democrats have an edge. Just because young voters aren’t voting early, that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t vote by November 8.”

In District 38, the political scientist said he wasn’t surprised voter turnout was higher than the state average. 

“I expect this to be a much higher turnout than in the state overall,” Kousser said. “It’s a highly educated, highly affluent district. Not only has $11 million been spent on this state senate race, but we also have a huge overlap with a competitive congressional district (49th Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike Levin and Republican challenger Bryan Maryott) that’s generating more advertising, mailers, door knocks, etc. So from that, some mobilization effects are felt strongly in this district.

In a statement made to The Coast News, a spokesperson for Gunderson’s campaign urged voters to continue coming into the polls while casting shade towards Blakespear for not engaging the electorate by agreeing to debate Gunderson in the months leading up to the election.

“Matt is working hard to ensure voters know how important voting is to turning inflation around, lowering taxes, and eliminating homelessness,” said Gunderson’s campaign spokesperson. “He strongly urges people of every party to cast their ballots to keep our democracy strong. As we know, his opponent refused multiple requests for an open and honest debate. I wonder if perhaps this could have sparked more voter participation.”

Blakespear’s campaign declined to comment on the turnout numbers. 

As of October 30, voter turnout in races for the Encinitas City Council is about 19%, or 8,420 ballots returned out of 44,280 total. Fifty percent of the total ballots returned so far are from Democrats (or 4,194 ballots), 26% from Republicans (2,182), and 24% from independent voters (2,044). See more data in the graphic below:


More Election 2022 coverage


hector lopez November 3, 2022 at 2:35 pm

Nice try Aubrey, but we all know that Blakespear is another favorite pet of the developers. Blakespear has shown her bias in favor of the developer to the detriment of Encinitas. Need to vote her out.

steve333 November 3, 2022 at 2:19 pm

If you support Local Control Over Housing
Go with Gunderson!

Aubrey November 1, 2022 at 5:31 pm

It’s interesting that the Gunderson lovers can’t get their facts right, the BIA put out a hit piece on Mayor Blakespear and has donated to Matt and Thunder’s campaigns. I voted for the most experienced, logical, and fact based candidate, Catherine Blakespear.

steve333 November 1, 2022 at 2:38 pm

I voted early, I wanted to make sure my vote for Gunderson and against Blakespear was counted.
Also voted for Bruce Ehlers for D4 and Cindy Cremina for mayor. Time to clean house. if I were in D3 I’d have voted for Julie Thunder.
Nathan Hochman for AG
Vote out the developer puppets

Comments are closed.