Record Turnout in the Primaries
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 03:55:47 AM EDT
Via Election Law Blog comes an interesting report (.pdf) from the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network on turnout during the 2008 primaries. In short, not only did the numbers blow out of the water those from 2004 and 2000, the last contested primaries for the two parties, but also set the record by about 67 percent. Here are some of the findings from the survey:
- An unprecedented 58.7 million voters - more than one in four of all eligible voters - participated in a primary or caucus. This number far exceeds the previous primary participation record of over 35 million, set in 1988. This is also well above the 33 million that participated the last time both party nominations were contested in 2000.
- Voter participation in Democratic primaries was up 112% and caucuses by 223% compared to its last most similar primary season in 2004. The turnout of voters in Democratic primaries doubled and tripled in the caucuses.
- Voter participation in Republican primaries was up 10% and caucuses rose more modestly by 70% compared to the most similar primary season in 2000.
- Youth participation rose at a faster rate than any other age group. Youth participation doubled and tripled in primaries and caucuses. Turnout by voters ages 18-29 went up for the third consecutive national election year, also rising in the national elections of 2004 and 2006.
- Latino voter participation surged in many states, including Texas and California. A report by the Pew Hispanic Center profiles huge increases in turnout of Latino voters in Texas and California where a third of voters turning out in the Democratic primaries were of Hispanic origin. Latino turnout was up but uneven in other states and unchanged in New York and Arizona.
These numbers underscore a couple things. First, the notion that younger voters didn't reliably turn out in 2008 is bunk, pure bunk. It might not be the case that younger voters now vote at rates similar to older voters, but the fact that they were able to double and triple their turnout in this year's primaries from years past is a testament to current environment in which young people are voting on a consistent basis. Second -- and we already had anecdotal evidence of this one -- about two-thirds more voters turned out for the Democratic primaries than did for the Republican primaries (in four fewer contests). The disparity per primary is closer to 85 percent.
Anyway, take a look through the survey if you're interested. It's quite interesting stuff.