Fun with numbers, primary-election style

As the primaries continue, I was wondering about turnout. Everyone says turnout is so important. Is there a connection between primary turnout and general election turnout? And how many people have the early voting states turned out?

I wanted numbers:

From the Des Moines Register on the Iowa caucuses:

Republicans counted more than 180,000 caucusgoers, topping their 2012 attendance record of 121,503 by an estimated 60,000 people.

But they didn’t have the Democratic Party numbers. I found those on Bustle.com:

Many precincts were delayed in reporting the Democratic results, but early Tuesday morning, the Iowa Democratic Party announced that171,109 Iowans participated in its caucuses. That’s a fall from 2008, which saw 239,000 vote in the Democratic caucuses throughout the state.

For New Hampshire, I found this from the Union Leader:

A record 542,459 ballots were cast Feb. 9, including a record number of Republican ballots: 287,683. Democrats cast 254,776 ballots, well below their record of 288,672 in 2008.

And for Nevada, Bustle.com reported the Republican turnout:

More than 75,000 Nevada Republicans caucused Tuesday night

AP had the figures on the Democratic side:

Officials say about 84,000 Nevada Democrats participated in Saturday’s caucuses, which is nearly 30 percent fewer than in 2008.

So it seemed like a thing – that the primaries were bringing out more Republicans than Democrats. And if turnout is so important, then maybe this isn’t a good thing for Democrats?

Then I read this in Vox:

The first is historical. Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida and a voter turnout guru, notes that in 2000 the Republican primary turnout ran ahead of that for Democrats (by around 3 million votes), and yet Al Gore won the popular vote over George Bush.

And that was echoed on NPR.com:

McDonald pointed out that in 2000, Republican primary turnout was much heavier than it was for Democrats — and that election between George W. Bush and Al Gore ended up essentially deadlocked until the Supreme Court intervened.

So the stories were basically trying to say that there isn’t a strong relationship between primary and general election turnout. That the percentage of registered voters voting in primaries and caucuses is far lower than the number expected for the general election, and still far lower than number of registered voters. Then again, only 55 percent of the voting eligible population actually voted in 2012.

Being reminded of the 2000 vote, decided by the Supreme Court? Not very encouraging. If only more people voted.

 

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