The numbers don’t lie:
Turnout among Dem voters dropped precipitously in 3 statewide primaries on Tuesday, giving the party more evidence that their voters lack enthusiasm ahead of midterm elections.
In primaries in NC, IN and OH, Dems turned out at far lower rates than they have in previous comparable elections.
Just 663K OH voters cast ballots in the competitive primary between LG Lee Fisher (D) and Sec/State Jennifer Brunner (D). That number is lower than the 872K voters who turned out in ’06, when neither Gov. Ted Strickland (D) nor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) faced primary opponents.
Only 425K voters turned out to pick a nominee against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The 14.4% turnout was smaller than the 444K voters — or 18% of all registered Dem voters — who turned out in ’04, when Gov. Mike Easley (D) faced only a gadfly candidate in his bid to be renominated for a second term.
And in IN, just 204K Hoosiers voted for Dem House candidates, far fewer than the 357K who turned out in ’02 and the 304K who turned out in ’06.
By contrast, GOP turnout was up almost across the board. 373K people voted in Burr’s uncompetitive primary, nearly 9% higher than the 343K who voted in the equally non-competitive primary in ’04. Turnout in House races in IN rose 14.6% from ’06, fueled by the competitive Senate primary, which attracted 550K voters. And 728K voters cast ballots for a GOP Sec/State nominee in Ohio, the highest-ranking statewide election with a primary; in ’06, just 444K voters cast ballots in that race.
Having read that, it’s interesting to see that Gallup’s headline for their latest polling numbers reads:
Republican Advantage in 2010 Voting Enthusiasm Shrinks
They go on to say:
PRINCETON, NJ — Republican registered voters’ enthusiasm about voting in this year’s midterm elections has declined significantly in recent weeks. As a result, Republicans’ advantage over Democrats on this measure has shrunk from 19 points in early April to 10 points in the latest weekly aggregate.
It’s very hard to square those numbers with what we saw on Tuesday but, as they say, stay tuned. There’s six months to go between now and election day and anything can happen.
Words of the day? Cautious optimism.