In preparation for tomorrow’s runoff elections in two Georgia state representative districts, I summarized voter turnout in all state legislative special elections in that state since 2010. The results of that analysis appear at the bottom of this post.
Here are a few interesting findings:
Although conventional wisdom suggests that voter turnout for runoff elections is lower than for the original election, the data for Georgia during this period says otherwise. In almost half the instances (8 out of 17), the total votes cast in the runoff was actually greater than that in the special election held 4 weeks earlier. If one removes those instances where either the special or runoff election coincided with a statewide general or Presidential primary Election Day, voter turnout actually went up for the runoff 7 out of 10 times.
However, an increase in turnout for runoffs in State Representative races (rather than State Senate ones) is less likely, occurring only 4 out of 10 times.
The candidate that placed first in the original Special Election wound up winning the runoff 14 out of 17 times (82%). If one removes those instances where either the special or runoff election coincided with a statewide general or Presidential primary Election Day, the winner of the Special Election also won the runoff 100% of the time (10 instances out of 10).
Turnout when the runoff is held in January & February was quite strong. Since 2010, 6 special election runoffs were held in those two months. In 5 of those 6 instances, the total votes cast in the runoff was higher than in the original round of voting. This makes sense, since this timing coincides with the start of the state legislative session in Atlanta, and the resulting increased media coverage of state governmental matters.
Here is the full breakdown: Georgia state legislative runoff elections 2010 to 2105