top of page
  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

School Board Race: Headed for Big Turnout

More than 12,000 mail-in ballots cast in the race for Santa Barbara school board already have been returned to election officials – suggesting great interest in a wide-open campaign likely to produce a high voter turnout.

“People are going to vote this year,” said a veteran insider who does not have a client in the school board contest, which features eight candidates with a wide range of views seeking two seats.

Standard political writer disclaimer: There is, of course, no way of knowing for whom any of the mail-in ballots already handed back to the county Registrar of Voters have been cast, and a countless number of speculative scenarios might be derived from them. Caveat emptor.

For political junkies and self-interested parties, however, statistics compiled by Political Data Inc., a subscription service widely used by political strategists of both parties throughout California, offers a fascinating, inside and granular glimpse of the electorate to date: heavily Democratic, shaped by a small gender gap, with overwhelming portions of white and older voters.

Here is a look at the numbers as of close of business Tuesday.


  • 106,985 voters are registered in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, a sprawling area that ranges between Carpinteria and Gaviota

  • 12,227 of these already have sent in ballots, with two weeks left before the Nov. 6 election. This represents about 11 percent of the overall number of registered voters – but nearly one-fourth of what would result in a robust 50 percent turnout for an off-year, low-information election.


  • 5,832 of the ballots submitted – about 48 percent -- are from Democratic voters, aligning with their percentage of overall registration.

  • 3,172 ballots have been returned by Republicans – about 26 percent. Not surprisingly, their portion at this point is greater than the GOP’s overall registration percentage of 19 percent, because Republicans historically are the most reliable – and typically the earliest – voters, particularly in non-presidential elections.

  • 2,594 ballots – about 21 percent – have come from No Party Preference, non-partisan independents. This compares to their 27 percent slice of overall registration. The school board race is, nominally at least, a non-partisan contest, so it may be that NPPs are waiting to learn more information about the contenders before making their choices. As a general rule, however, registered independents in Santa Barbara tend to favor Democrats, and also often are younger, and vote later, if at all.


  • 6,212 ballots returned are from women – about 51 percent; this is slightly higher than the percentage of voters – just under 50 percent – who identified themselves to the registrar as female.

  • 5,586 ballots have come from men – about 46 percent; this too is slightly higher than the percentage of voters – just under 45 percent – who checked the box stating they are male on their voter registration.

  • 429 ballots have come from voters who did not check a box to identify their gender when they registered. This is about 4 percent of the ballots so far submitted; among the total number of voters, about 5 percent did not check the box.


  • 8,854 ballots have been returned by voters 51 or older – 72 percent, compared to the 48 percent portion of the electorate of the district who are of those ages.

  • 1,454 are from voters between 35 and 50 – about 12 percent, compared to the 18 percent slice of overall registration in that cohort.

  • 1,917 have come from younger voters, between 18 and 34 – 16 percent of the early ballots; this is less than their portion in total registration – about 34 percent.


The Political Data Inc. breakdown of ballots includes estimates of the ethnic background of voters based on at least two factors: a) whether or not a voter requested ballot materials in a language other than English; b) a best guess judgment of ethnicity based on a voter’s surname. According to this subjective assement:

  • 9,347 ballots have been returned by white voters – about 76 percent – compared to their 69 percent of overall registration.

  • 1,359 have come from those identified as Latino according to the above criteria. This represents about 11 percent, compared to the 19,621 voters – about 18 percent – counted as Latino in total registration.

  • Shout-out to the 23 Armenian-surnamed voters who have returned ballots - .001 percent – a solid down payment on their .003 percent share of the SBUSD’s universe of voters.

Better late than never. There is a late-breaking school board candidate forum scheduled for tonight (Wednesday), 6:30-8:30 p.m. All the candidates have been invited to speak at the event, sponsored by La Casa de la Raza and its online community radio station, KZAA-LP, at 601 E. Montecito St.

Don't forget to vote.

151 views0 comments
bottom of page