Record Turnout in the Primaries

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.

Tags: Democratic primaries, Republican Primaries (all tags)



Re: Record Turnout in the Primaries

I hope that these gains in youth voting make it harder for the Viagra-sponsored MSM to continue spreading the lie that only seniors reliably show up to vote. But, we'll probably have to wit until after Obama's landslide victory to pound that coffin nail.

by Stumptown Dave 2008-07-16 04:13AM | 0 recs
unless they become dissalusioned

with Obama blowing in the pander breeze?

by usedmeat 2008-07-16 04:42AM | 0 recs
Re: unless they become dissalusioned

Thankfully most young people aren't self-important purity trolls. I voted for the first time in 2000, and I for one would like to see a Democrat actually win the Presidency this year.

by Hatch 2008-07-16 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Record Turnout in the Primaries

yes! we rule!

[a highly contested primary produced some good results;]

by alyssa chaos 2008-07-16 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Record Turnout in the Primaries

Slowly this country is getting a bit more democratic rather than majoritarian.
by killjoy 2008-07-16 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Record Turnout in the Primaries
I was looking through the pdf and on the 11th page they list Voter Participation Change by State. Here are the numbers for the six battleground states that held their caucuses or primaries while the Republican nomination was still in contention.

The Dem numbers are comparing '08 to '04 while the Republican numbers compare '08 to '00 to account for President Bush's incumbency depressing the '04 Republican Primary turnout.

I was all set to highlight those Michigan numbers as a sign of Obama's strength when further research revealed that the 267% increase is comparing the 08 Primary (disputed though it was) to the 04 Caucus; not exactly apples to apples (Note: The Republican Michigan decrease compares the '08 Primary to the '00 Primary). This type of false comparison could explain some of the other gaudy increases (not incl. in this chart) in the report. They definitely would inflate the averages reported in the summary.

State Date Caucus or Primary Dem. % Incr. Rep. % Incr.
Iowa Jan. 3 Caucus 86% 37%
New Hampshire Jan. 8 Primary 31% 1%
Michigan Jan. 15 Primary 267% -32%
Georgia Feb. 5 Primary 69% 50%
Missouri Feb. 5 Primary 97% 24%
North Dakota Feb. 5 Caucus 80% 8%

by The Breach 2008-07-16 02:31PM | 0 recs


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