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Eight Days Out, L.A.’s Missing Voters in the Millions for the 2022 Primary

With just eight days left before the June 7th primary, as of Friday, May 27th, less than 139,000 ballots of 2.1 million mailed out to voters in the city of Los Angeles have been returned to the Registrar’s office, making for a gap of 2,010,187 ballots to find quickly over the next week. 66% of these returned ballots have come from voters aged 50 and upwards. Since these groups hold only 44% of all ballots, their early returns mark an increase of 22% over their registration rate. Voters aged 18 – 49 currently hold 55% of L.A. city’s ballots, but can only claim credit for 36% of ballots returned to the Registrar so far, marking a 19% gap with respect to their registration rate.

Additionally, white voters have returned 59% of L.A. City’s 2.1 million ballots so far, or approximately 82,000 ballots, a 10 point increase from their share of ballots overall (49%). Latinx voters have accounted for only 20% of returns so far, or roughly 28,000 ballots, despite their hold on 33% of ballots overall, making for a 13 point decrease or gap with respect to their registration. Ballots returned from Asian-American voters currently make for 12%, or 17,000 ballots, a 3 point increase from their hold on ballots overall. And ballots from African-American voters returned so far make for 9% of all returns, or about 12,500 ballots, consistent with their hold on ballots overall (9%).

It’s accurate to say, then, that the 13 point gap for ballots returned from younger, Latinx voters in particular relative to their hold on all ballots have so far opened a path for more returns from white and Asian-American voters, particularly those over the age of 50.

The trajectory so far is reminiscent of L.A.’s last major primary in 2017, when Eric Garcetti and Mitch O’Farrell were re-elected to their offices by only 17% of L.A.’s voters; ballots from white voters also surged then as those from Latinxs fell by nearly half. The 2017 primary also saw saw an uptick in ballots returned from Asian-Americans compared to their registration rates, while ballots from African-American decreased, albeit slightly, compared to their registration rates.

Data from Tableu Public by paulmitche11, 2017

Let’s now take a look at the numbers more locally. In Council District 13 (CD-13), at least 11,000 of approximately 148,000 ballots have been returned so far. 57% of these ballots are from voters aged 50 and upwards, compared to their share of 48% of the electorate in the district overall, an increase of 9 points. 43% of returned ballots in CD-13 so far hail from voters aged 18 – 49, compared to their share of 51% of the electorate overall, a decrease of 8 points compared to their registration. In terms of ethnic categories, white voters have accounted for 59% of these same returns so far, or 4 points up from their overall share (55%). Latinx voters, who account for 30% of the ballots in CD-13, have accounted for 22% of returned ballots so far, or a decrease of 8 points compared to their registration.

Asian-American voters, the third largest bloc in CD-13, have accounted for 17% of ballots returned in the area so far, an increase of 4 percentage points, while African-American voters, the fourth largest bloc in the area, have accounted for 2% of returns, consistent with their share of ballots in CD-13 overall.

In Council District 1, at least 7,300 of roughly 106,500 ballots have been returned so far. 62% of these ballots are from voters over the age of 50, compared to their 47% share of the electorate in the area overall, an increase of 15 points. Along ethnic categories, ballots returned from Latinx voters have made for 36% of returns so far, making for a gap of 12% with respect to their share of the electorate in CD-1 overall (48%), which is also the largest voting bloc in the area. White voters, who make up for the second largest voting bloc in the area (34%), have returned 35% of CD-1’s ballots, an increase of 1 point with respect to their share of the area’s eligible voters. Asian-American voters, who represent the third largest bloc of voters in CD-1, have returned 27% of the area’s ballots, an increase of 11 points from their registration rates in CD-1 (16%). African-American voters, the fourth largest bloc in the area (3%), have returned about 2% of ballots there, a slight decrease of 1% with respect to their registration in CD-1.

While so far L.A. City’s numbers aren’t exactly reassuring, they’re also not far removed from trends for the Golden State as a whole at the moment. Consider that across California, there are roughly more than 22 million voters on the rolls; of this number, those over the age of 50 represent up to 10.8 million voters (slightly more than the size of all of L.A. County before 2020, or 49%). However, as of May 27th, these voters accounted for more than 75% of ballots returned so far, an increase of 26 points with respect to their overall share. Inversely, voters aged 18 – 49 represent 51% of California’s electorate, but only made for 25% of votes back to the state registrar as of May 27th.

Ballots returned by Age and Ethnicity in California overall as of May 27th, 2022; Political Data, Inc.

Additionally, white voters maintain the largest bloc in California, representing 57% of the electorate, but have returned at least 69% of the state’s ballots so far, or an increase of 8 points. Latinx voters, who make for the second largest bloc at 27%, have returned 15% of the state’s ballots, or a decrease of 12 points with respect to their rate of registration. Asian-American voters, who are the third largest group of voters at 12% of the state’s electorate, have returned 12% of ballots, consistent with their registration rate; and African-American voters, the fourth largest voting bloc at 4%, have returned 3% of the state’s ballots, a slight decrease of one point compared to their registration rates.

The numbers are obviously poised to change over the next week, but it’s clear that it will take more from the state and voting proponents across our cities to dislodge the historic trends. As the California Public Policy Institute noted as early as 2000: “At present, California’s electorate does not accurately reflect the state’s diversity. Despite being only about half of the state’s population, whites make up 68 percent of the voters. Latinos are well behind with only 19 percent of the electorate, and blacks and Asian Americans follow with 6 and 7 percent, respectively.”

According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Latinxs made for 32% of the state’s population then, while Asian-Americans accounted for 11% and 7%, respectively. As recently as 2020, white residents made for roughly 41% of the state’s population, while Latinxs, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans accounted for about 39%, 15%, and 6%, respectively.

Statistics cited for the June 2022 primary are from Political Data, Inc.’s Tracker, a well-crafted data engine. Keep up with more updates over the next week via this page and wherever else you follow JIMBO TIMES. And if you’re still doing research for your ballot, the L.A. Times can lead you to a useful guide HERE.


Los Angeles is a City of Contrasts, according to Mike Davis

What is the point of learning about L.A.’s past? Because history repeats itself unless we inform ourselves.

“…Los Angeles in the 1920s was in many respects a de facto dictatorship of the Times and the Merchants and Manufacturers Association, as the LAPD’s infamous ‘red squad’ kept dissent off the streets and radicals in jail.”

In 2016, it sounds like it’s straight out of a Hollywood script: a newspaper and an Association forming two parts of a ‘dictatorship’. But Los Angeles in the 1920s wasn’t the megalopolis it is today. If one can imagine it, in 1900 L.A. barely had over 100,000 people living in it.

By 1910, the city population more than doubled to over 300,000, but was still smaller than Long Beach (+400,000) today. And though by 1920 the city grew to a population of over 576,000 people, it was still only the tenth largest city in the United States, behind Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (+588,000) of all places.

New York, by contrast, counted over 5,620,000 people in 1920.

In other words, L.A. was still just another town out west in California, leaving room for just a few major ‘players’.

Davis goes on to describe how the Times and the Association’s reign took place at the time of a great internal migration in the U.S. from the the early twentieth century up to the mid-1920s, when ‘middle America’ came out to the West coast and made L.A. a particularly white, Anglo-Saxon protestant town supported by a Mexican underclass.

“…the new WASP ascendancy found its essential economic support in the arrival of Mexican labor in massive numbers after the fall of the Porfiriato in 1910.”

The Porfiriato was a thirty-five year dictatorship in Mexico from 1875 – 1910. Headed by President Porfirio Diaz, his rule by force made significant developments for the state and relative stability of Mexico, but also violently suppressed the poor or lower classes.

In the end, Diaz’s rule came to a violent demise when a revolutionary war ravaged the country. Diaz would die in exile in France, as war for his succession ravaged Mexico for the next ten years and saw many leave their homeland with dreams of a better life en el Norte.

As such, it’s easy to see how Los Angeles was a prime destination for a new beginning for Mexican laborers in the 20s, as well as how their desperation for a decent living would make them great workers for a city in need of building.

It also makes sense how a newspaper and its printing power at the time could command far more power. There were only half a million people in its beat, then.

And when considering that the Manufacturer’s Association was one of its kind as industry was still lacking in Los Angeles, the state of The City in the 1920s becomes clear: it wasn’t anything but a few people’s stomping grounds.

Yet even with this relatively ordinary backdrop, there was still a shift in power taking place. In Davis’s words:

One of the first casualties of this recomposition of demography and power was the integrated social status of Los Angeles Jews. By the early 1900s elite Jews, including the pioneer dynasties of the 1840s and 1850s, were being excluded from the corporate directorships, law firms, philanthropies and clubs that in many cases they had helped to establish.

When I read this, it was as fascinating as it was problematizing, as I realized that if the “upper classes” weren’t all just one united front but a series of different actors, then surely they aren’t now, which makes the entire notion of power far more complex than what meets the eye. It’s not just a city, but a world of contrasts.

With more soon,