Now comes California, the Big Enchilada.  No more teeny tiny states picking presidents; it’s our turn.  More than eight million ballots will be cast, but unlike almost every other state, millions of these ballots will not be counted on Election Night.

California’s massive electorate votes in stages.  Voting by mail has become so popular that more than 60 percent of the ballots cast in 2014 were Vote-By-Mail.  That will probably be the case in the 2016 primary.

Political Data Inc. follows the Vote-By-Mail balloting from the first day ballots began arriving at the counties.  As of Monday afternoon, some 2.8 million ballots had been received and catalogued by the counties, and most have been counted.  This is the early vote and will be the first results released on Election Night. 

Thanks to Political Data, we know a lot about this electorate.  Almost 70 percent are over the age of 55; it is heavily white and black, (only 13 percent Latino) it is “regular” voters and is more conservative than the primary electorate as a whole.

In recent primaries this vote has been about 42 percent Democratic, 37 percent Republican.  However, this year the breakdown is 49 percent Democratic and only 34 percent Republican.  The Democratic percentage is likely to increase when Election Day and late voters are added in.

This could be bad news for some Republican candidates hoping to make the “top two” for the fall election, as the Republican turnout thus far is well below its normal percent.  It will also be interesting to see if this Republican drop-off represents some kind of rejection of Donald Trump by Republican voters simply staying home.

It is also possible to use these figures to give a sense of the overall turnout.  The early ballots are running well ahead of the 2014 primary turnout, as would be expected given the hot presidential primary on the Democratic side.  They are also running slightly ahead of the turnout for the general election in 2014.

Turnout in November 2014 was 7.5 million ballots cast, or 42 percent of registered voters.  The newest voter registration figures show that there was a surge of additional registrants in the last six weeks of the campaign as California’s registered voters rose from 17.3 million to 17.9 million.

Most new voters are Democrats, and there is the likelihood of an Election Day ground game for the Democratic presidential candidates.  So it is safe to assume that the turnout in the 2016 primary will be higher than the general election in 2014, but 2014 remains a decent benchmark for estimating 2016 turnout and a good guess is 46 to 50 percent of registered voters.  That would mean a total turnout of between 8.2 million and 8.9 million ballots.

This compares with 57 percent turnout (9.1 million ballots) in the presidential primary in 2008.  The 2016 primary will come close but probably not exceed the 2008 presidential primary.  One figure to watch when all the votes are in will be Hillary Clinton total vote; will it exceed her total in the high turnout 2008 primary in which she beat then-Sen. Obama in this state.

But final figures will not be available Election Night.  While there are roughly three million early ballots, there are likely to be nearly three million late ballots that won’t be counted tonight. These will include Vote by Mail ballots left off at the precinct on Election Day, ballots arriving on or after Election Day (thanks to a new law, they need only be postmarked by Election Day to count), and provisional ballots.  This will also include Vote by Mail ballots not yet counted.

These late ballots have traditionally been more Latino, younger and more Democratic than the early vote.  That can be expected this year.

If the Clinton and Sanders race is extremely close on Election Night, these three million yet to be counted ballots could decide the winner.  Networks may have to be careful in predicting a winner of the Clinton-Sanders race if the early and Election Day vote is very close. In June 2014, it took a month before the candidates in the Controller’s race were decided.

California is the only state where millions of ballots will remain uncounted until after Election Day.  So watch for late surprises.