In the Trump Era, Voter Turnout Skyrockets in Philly’s District Attorney Race

This election saw the highest vote count for DA since the 1997 race.

District Attorney-elect Larry Krasner has been credited with increasing turnout. | Photo courtesy of Krasner’s campaign

Voter turnout was 69 percent higher in Philadelphia on Tuesday than in the last district attorney’s race in 2013 — and all of the ballots haven’t been counted yet. In other words, it could go up slightly from there.

In fact, it was the highest turnout the city has seen in the last 20 years in such a general election. And the weather was crappy yesterday.

More than 20 percent of Philly’s electorate came to the polls this year (with 98 percent of precincts reporting). That’s not exactly robust democratic participation, but it’s a massive jump from four years ago, when 12 percent showed up. In 2009 and 2005, too, turnout hovered around 12 percent and 13 percent.

Voter turnout also jumped by a significant margin in the city’s May primary. Some political observers credited Democratic District Attorney-elect Larry Krasner with bringing out more voters than usual with a progressive message. Millennials, in particular, flooded the polls much more than they typically do: Primary turnout among 18- to 34-year-olds increased by 279 percent from 2013 to 2017. Liberal outrage in the era of President Donald Trump also may have drawn voters out yesterday and this spring.

Is the city’s rising turnout a bad sign for Republicans in 2018? Is it proof that an unapologetically left-wing platform brings out more voters than a moderate agenda? And what should the takeaway be for Philly Democrats?

How you answer those questions likely depends on where you fall on the political spectrum.