On election day, the Field Poll published a widely-cited prediction that voter turnout would fall to a record low.
It was a safe bet since voter turnout has been trending downward for years. And it may well prove true -- it won't be clear until all provisional and late mail-in ballots are counted over the next few weeks.
But turnout is calculated based on registered voters, and the percentage of eligible Californians who are registered to vote has increased, largely because of excitement over the last presidential election
In all, about 24.1 percent of eligible voters were expected to vote in this election, up from 23.4 percent the last gubernatorial primary, according to a table in the Field Poll report.
Look at it this way: Say you have a city with 100 eligible voters and two elections. In the first election, 50 people register to vote, and 25 actually cast ballots. In the second election, 60 register to vote, and 27 cast ballots. The first election has a higher turnout rate; the second election has more people who actually voted. Despite its glum tone, the Field Poll study, in the fine print, says the above example is analogous to Tuesday's election: Lower registered voter turnout, but more Californians actually voting.
In Sacramento County, 164,465 votes had been tallied by Thursday, and around 80,000 provisional and late ballots were left to be counted. If 60,000 or more of those votes are valid -- some will not be accepted by the registrar -- Sacramento County actually will have experiences an increase over the last gubernatorial election in the proportion of eligible residents who cast ballots.
Finally, a bit of context. My home state of North Carolina just posted 14 percent turnout for its statewide primary; Texas just hosted a statewide primary with 11 percent turnout; Illinois just had a statewide primary election with 21 percent turnout.