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Looks like whites and the elderly dominated 2018 Florida primary election

By Chris Persaud

I recently got a copy of Florida’s voter file on CD. Each month, the state delivers the publicly-available list of every registered voter in the state to whomever signs up to receive it.

The latest edition, released Sept. 12, includes millions of Floridians’ votes from the Aug. 28 primary. The results from that night were big. Democrats nominated its first black candidate for governor, Tallahasee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Republicans chose Donald Trump-endorsed Congressman Ron DeSantis over establishment favorite, Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam.

But looking at about 2.7 million of the more than 3.5 million votes cast last month, it appears the big takeaway is that most voters were elderly or white. (Not all the votes have yet been reported to the Department of State and recorded by the Division of Elections – the rest of the votes should be included in the October voter file, a department spokeswoman wrote to me in an email.)

While voters 60-years-old or older make up just over one-third of all Floridians registered to vote, nearly two-thirds of those who cast ballots last month were in that age group. And despite being the second-largest group, registered voters younger than 30 made up just five percent of the primary electorate.

This overrepresentation of the elderly and underrepresentation of the young persists when we look at preliminary results in each party’s primary.

And the preliminary racial breakdown shows a very white primary electorate.

It appears that white voters cast ballots at higher rates than other racial groups. But black voters appear to have been proportionately represented in the primary. And here’s a look at both parties’ racial breakdowns.

Preliminary data shows the GOP is almost entirely white, while Democratic primary voters had more minorities. Hispanics appear to have made up a tiny share in both parties’ primaries. But that result could change after the Division of Elections releases the complete primary results next month. One interesting note: Black voters contributed 27 percent of the vote in the Florida Democratic primaries of 2018 and 2016.

Finally, here’s a look at sex.

The gender breakdown for primary voters and all registered voters in the state seem about even. But let’s look at each party’s primary.

Women clearly had a huge voice in the Florida Democratic primaries, contributing around 3 in 5 votes in that party’s races.

Finally, here’s a breakdown by party.

Unsurprisingly, most voters in last month’s races belonged to one of the two major parties. But just because a voter needs to be registered with a party to vote in that party’s primary does not mean they are locked out of all races. Many other offices, like judges, mayors and other local politicians were on the ballot.

Next month, I’d like totake another look at primary data once all the votes have been added to the voter file. If you’d like to look at the R code I used to analyze this data and make these charts, check this Github repo of mine.

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