I guess people really don’t bother to vote in primaries

We’re heard throughout the Republican primary process vague mentions here and there that the turnout was low. What worries me, and what is detrimental to our democracy, is when people have the attitude that “I don’t vote in primaries.” I’ve had people tell me that (it’s worse when they say they don’t vote at all, which too many do).
So I decided to compare the turnout in tonight’s Republican primary to the turnout in the general election in 2008. (Understanding that this deep into the primary season, more and more people are burnt out and not bothering to vote, or are assuming Mitt is the nominee and so don’t bother to vote, or, as has been true throughout, they don’t like and of them and don’t bother to vote).

Wisconsin and Maryland have about the same population size, about 5.7 million people each.
In Wisconsin in 2008, McCain got 1.26 million votes to Obama’s 1.67 million votes, Obama winning the state 56 to 43%.
With 60% of the vote counted in WI tonight, Romney has 192,000 votes, with approx. 450,000 total votes total. When 100 percent of the vote is in, it will total around 750,000 votes. So, a bit more than half the number of votes McCain got four years ago in the general. I guess you can call that not bad, and it’s hard to say it means the Republicans are excited by Romney.

In Maryland four years ago, McCain got about 950,000 votes, losing badly to Obama’s over 1.6 million votes. Compared to Maryland, Wisconsin was the hotbed of excitement tonight. Romney will win big, while WI was close. But, the total number of votes cast in Maryland is only a bit over 250,000, or a third of WI, in a state with the same population.

I don’t know if any of this means a whole lot; I just felt like looking at the numbers tonight. (And once again, though he is running unopposed, Obama was on the ballots, and got a lot of votes, as there were also competitive state and local races on the ballot. And our “liberal” media went out of their way to emphasize how many more votes Obama got than the Republicans!! Kidding!! It’s pretty much impossible to find any reporting at all about Democratic turnout tonight. Must be that liberal media conspiracy…oh, wait…)


About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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2 Responses to I guess people really don’t bother to vote in primaries

  1. Jim says:

    JP – Everyone knows that more people vote in the general election,. You should compare primary voting with primary voting, and even better, republican slate voting with other republican slates. Still, I think your point is on, that a lot of Republicans are apathetic or disgusted with this election’s candidates. Except the extremes, who are excited; which in turn turns off the mainstream voters.

  2. JP says:

    True. As I’d written, I was just laying in bed, tired and rambling. I would like to see a primary to primary analysis of turnout this year compared to past cycles, and I don’t care enough to bother doing it. I agree with you on the larger point, which I think is that because so many people don’t vote in primaries, it is easier for the extreme candidates to win primaries, because only the fervent extremes are involved in primary season. And then people wonder in the general election why they have choices they don’t like. If they got more involved in the primaries, they may well get better candidates in the general election.
    It seems–and again, it would require some time to look it all up–that turnout on both sides was higher in 2008, and arguably resulted in better candidates. I think McCain has largely become a grumpy old man, and before he picked Palin, he was a more sane, respected senator. I didn’t agree with McCain on much, and compared to this year’s Republican crop he was downright statesmanlike.
    Maybe it means overall people are okay with Obama and a second term. If they weren’t, wouldn’t there have been better candidates on the Republican side and much larger primary turnout?

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