The fifth day of early voting in Nashville’s special mayoral election on Wednesday saw another stunningly low turnout–only 194 residents of Nashville/Davidson County cast their ballots, bringing the five day early voting total to an anemic 1,039.
After five full days of early voting, less than one-third of one percent of the active registered voters in Nashville/Davidson County (which is slightly more than 360,000) have cast their ballots in the May 24 special mayoral election to select a mayor who will serve out the remaining one year and three months of disgraced former Mayor Megan Barry’s term. Barry resigned on March 6, the same day she pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge related to her two year long affair with her bodyguard, former Metro Nashville Police Department Sgt. Rob Forrest.
The anemic turnout levels spells big trouble for the campaign of Acting Mayor David Briley.
First, it confirms that voters find him an uninspiring candidate.
Second, it indicates that voters are likely burned out on politics, after they turned out in droves–about 123,000 total voters went to the polls–to decisively reject the $9 billion transit plan Briley endorsed, 64 percent to 36 percent.
Finally, and perhaps more importantly, it gives a highly energized and highly motivated small group of voters–Republicans specifically–an opportunity to have a greater influence on the May 24 special mayoral election than they have ever had in the history of the Metropolitan form of government simply by showing up at the polls.
According to Harpeth Strategies, 24 percent of the 59,289 residents of Nashville Davidson county who early voted in the May 1 transit plan referendum requested Republican ballots:
37% of the 59,289 early votes were cast in the last three days of early voting, with nearly one in five of the early votes coming on the last day. Election Day is Tuesday, May 1. pic.twitter.com/doFaxvfkpR
— Dave Rosenberg (@DaveRosenbergTN) April 27, 2018
That 24 percent Republican ballot requested number appears to be good for those who voted on election day, as well–about 64,000, which brought the total turnout to about 123,000.
If the total turnout for the May 24 special mayoral election is half that of the May 1 transit referendum–which, improbably, at present seems to be on the high end of likely total turnout–a total of 61,500 votes will be cast.
Simple math would indicate that if all the Republicans who voted on May 1 also vote on May 24, the total percentage of all ballots cast on May 24 by Republicans would be 48 percent.
And, if every Republican cast their ballot for the same candidate, Nashville/Davidson County might see an historic event happen on May 24.
That thought is what worries Acting Mayor Briley and his political advisors with only two weeks left until election day, even though the only two polls conducted of the race during April showed him at 51 percent support (Harpeth Strategies) and 43 percent support (The Tennessee Star). Each poll showed former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain in a distant second place, with 9 percent support.