We have analyzed the voter rosters from the February special runoff election, January special election and 2014 primaries. Democratic primary voters were the largest bloc in both the special election and the runoff election, but they shrank, as a percent of total voters, from one election to the next.

January Special Election February Runoff Election
Democratic Primary Voters 8,449 44.3% 9,279 38.8%
Republican Primary Voters 4,821 25.3% 6,929 29.0%
Non-Primary Voters 5,823 30.5% 7,720 32.3%
   Total 19,093 100.0% 23,928 100.0%

The number of Republican primary voters increased 44%, while non-primary voters increased 33. As significant as those figures were, perhaps the most telling statistic of the runoff was the considerably smaller growth in Democratic primary voters. That party’s primary voters increased less than 10% over the special election.

Overall, turnout in the runoff increased 25% from the special election. This figure actually understates the number of new voters – people who did not participate in the special election – significantly. Only 58% of runoff election voters cast ballots in the special election. The other 42% of runoff voters were new.

Repeat Voters New Voters
Democratic Primary Voters 6,849 49.1% 2,430 24.2%
Republican Primary Voters 3,584 25.7% 3,345 33.5%
Non-Primary Voters 3,507 25.2% 4,213 42.2%
   Total 13,940 58.3% 9,988 41.7%

Non-primary voters represented the largest bloc of new voters. Only one out of every four new voter participated in the 2014 Democratic primary. A third of new voters were Republican primary voters.

Interestingly, more than 5,000 voters who cast votes in the special election did not return to the runoff. Of those, the largest bloc was non-primary voters (45%), followed by Democratic primary voters (31%) and Republican primary voters (24%).

Every House district within SD26 saw an increase in turnout over the special election, and both candidates received more votes in each district than in the special election.

January Special Election February Runoff Election
Menendez MartinezFischer Republicans Total Menendez MartinezFischer Total
HD116 611 2,058 838 3,573 2,140 2,398 4,538
HD117 42 35 27 107 101 41 142
HD118 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
HD119 296 458 239 1,080 717 567 1,284
HD120 249 591 766 1,780 1,692 736 2,428
HD121 15 14 21 52 47 14 61
HD122 26 40 42 110 85 55 140
HD123 1,577 2,923 1,475 6,158 3,703 3,282 6,985
HD124 1,223 831 887 3,014 2,746 1,027 3,773
HD125 785 1,281 1,024 3,144 2,660 1,514 4,174
Totals 4,824 8,231 5,319 19,018 13,891 9,635 23,526

Notes: REPs includes votes cast for Republican candidates Alma Perez Jackson and Joan Pedrotti. Total for special election includes votes cast for Al Suarez. Totals in this table do not match total votes in other tables because some voters (most of them in HD123) did not cast a vote in SD26. One runoff vote could not be allocated but is included in the runoff totals.

An interesting result occurred in HD120, which is represented by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D). In the special election, Martinez Fischer won a narrow plurality over Republican Alma Perez Jackson, 33%-29%, and Menendez was a distant third at 14%, edging out the other Republican by 4 votes. In the runoff, Menendez won HD120 handily, 70%-30%, while improving his vote total by 580%.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer

Rep. Jose Menendez

Rep. Jose Menendez

Martinez Fischer won his home district, HD116, with 58% in the special election. That win shrunk to 53% in the runoff, and his vote total improved by just 340 votes. Meanwhile, Menendez did much better in his district, HD124, in the runoff than in the special election. In the runoff, Menendez received 73% of the vote in HD124, compared to his 41% plurality in the special election. He improved his vote total by 1,523 votes. In HD123, Martinez Fischer received 47% of the vote in each election, but Menendez more than doubled his support from 26% to 53%, picking up 2,126 more votes to Martinez Fischer’s 359.

In our view, there is no question that Menendez was aided by Republican primary voters and voters who generally pass on primary elections. It also appears that Martinez Fischer did not retain all of his initial supporters and was unable to grow his support much beyond his base.

Although it was a runoff between two Democrats, it was not a Democratic primary runoff. People who did not vote in the Democratic primary in 2014 cast 61% of the votes in this runoff election. When a likely rematch rolls around next spring, those voters will likely be absent.