In Gulfport, Democrats (45.1% of eligible voters) have a big lead over Republicans (26.7%). And if you’re campaigning, don’t forget the Independents with no party affiliation (26.1%). Women, by the way, account for 54.9% of voters, and a larger percentage of them actually vote — 30.5% versus only 27.5% for the men.
These are just a few of the numbers from votepinellas.gov, the website of Julie Marcus, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. They’re calculated using the raw data available for our most recent municipal election, in 2021. Gulfport canceled city elections last year because there were no challengers to the incumbents. The same was true for eight other municipalities in Pinellas County. A quick Google search turns up scores of studies showing that lack of interest in local elections is nothing new, and that it’s a problem everywhere — not just Gulfport.
According to research by the National Civic League on local elections, affluent voters have a 30%-50% higher turnout than low-income voters. Those 65+ are seven times more likely to vote than voters aged 18 to 34. Whites vote at rates 20% higher than non-white voters.
“The overall impact is that local elected officials and policy are disproportionately influenced by older affluent white voters, undermining our representative democracy and the effectiveness of local governments,” the organization says. “Recent research found that less representative elections contribute to poorer outcomes for minorities, including uneven prioritization of public spending.”
It’s never too late to get into your local politics. For the upcoming March municipal elections in Gulfport, The Gabber is sponsoring a candidate forum on Feb. 2 at at the Hickman Theater. Read more about that from The Gabber’s publisher here.