Early voting turnout in the May 24 Nashville special mayoral election jumped to 5,194 on Thursday, the largest single day early voting turnout so far. As was the case on Tuesday, when the previous one day high of 3,537 was set, all 11 early voting locations were open until 7 pm.
But with just two more days of early voting left, total turnout is still on track to come in at less than half of the early voting turnout for the May 1 transit plan referendum election, where voters overwhelmingly rejected the $9 billion plan by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin.
In 12 days of early voting so far, just more than 20,000 residents of Nashville/Davidson County have cast their ballots.
But on the last two days of early voting all 11 early voting poll locations will close at 5:30 pm today and 4:30 pm on Saturday. The loss of those extra hours means it is unlikely that turnout on either day will exceed Thursday’s one day high of 5,194.
The last three days of early voting in the 14 day early voting period of the May 1 transit plan referendum election saw the heaviest turnout–37 percent of all early votes were cast on those days.
You can see the early voting results for the first 12 days of early voting, by day and polling place here below, thanks to data provided to The Tennessee Star by the Davidson County Election Commission:
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The most likely guess is that early voting turnout will be around 4,000 each day, which would bring early voting totals to about 28,000. While that number is higher than the 20,000 to 25,000 early voting turnout that many political analysts thought was likely after the first few days of anemic early voting, it is still less than half of the 59,000 early voters who turned out for the May 1 transit plan referendum election.
If the early voting total turnout is in the 28,000 range, election day turnout on May 24 will likely be around 32,000, bringing total turnout in the election to about 60,000, still less than have of the approximately 123,000 who voted in the May 1 transit plan referendum election.
What a voter turnout of 60,000 means for the outcome of the election is anyone’s guess.
The consensus among political analysts familiar with Nashville politics when asked to make their own wild guesses by The Tennessee Star when it looked like total turnout would be in the 50,000 range was that Acting Mayor Briley is likely to finish first, pulling in 40 percent to 45 percent of the vote, and Carol Swain is likely to make the runoff, pulling in 20 percent to 25 percent of the vote.
If no candidate in the May 24 special mayoral election wins more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two finishers will face off in a runoff election on June 28.
Should a runoff election be required, the voters of Davidson County will end up voting in four elections over a three month period: the May 1 transit plan referendum election, the May 24 special mayoral election, the June 28 special mayoral runoff election, and the August 2 primary elections, an unprecedented situation that will almost certain result in a severe case of voter fatigue in each successive election.
Briley might eke out 51 percent to 52 percent, thereby avoiding a runoff, several thought, but that seemed far from certain.
“A very low turnout for the May 24 special mayoral election–in the 40,000 to 45,000 range–would favor Carol Swain making the runoff, since she presumably appeals to a more dedicated core of Republican voters who, though numbering only about 20,000 households in Davidson County, are more motivated to vote in this election,” Tennessee Star political editor Steve Gill says.
“But a higher turnout–in the 60,000 plus range–diminishes Carol’s chances, and gives one of the other contenders–At large Council Member Erica Gilmore, State Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville), and jeff obafemi carr–a chance to slide into that second spot for the likely runoff,” Gill concludes.
Anything can happen in this unusual election however, and the voters of Nashville/Davidson County may have a surprise in store for everyone on election night.