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2012 GOP Primary Turnout Lower Than 2008, 2000

Based on final and official results from the six states whose primaries preceded Super Tuesday and near final and unofficial results from the seven Super Tuesday primaries, 7,846,172 voted out of 68,125,000 eligible citizens or 11.5 percent. Turnout in 2008 was 13.2 percent of eligibles and it was 12.2 in 2000.

Of the thirteen states with presidential primaries which have voted so far, eight had lower turnout than 2008, five had higher – all states that allowed independents or both independents and Democrats to vote in the GOP primaries in a year when there was no Democratic presidential contest.

These were some of the highlights of a joint preliminary report on GOP primary turnout released by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate on Thursday.

The state with the highest turnout was New Hampshire where 24.5 percent of eligibles voted, higher than the 24.2 percent that voted in 2008, but lower than the 26.41 which voted in 2000. In South Carolina 17.3 percent of eligibles voted higher than the 13.5 percent that voted in 2008, but lower than the 19.5 percent that voted in 2000. Ohio’s 2012 turnout was 13.9 percent, higher than the 12.8 who voted in 2008, but lower than the 16.8 who voted in 2000. Michigan had a higher turnout in 2012 (13.6 percent of eligibles) than the 12.0 percent that voted in 2008, but lower than the 19.6 percent who voted in 2000. The other state with higher 2012 turnout as compared to 2008 was Vermont where 11.8 percent of eligibles voted as compared to only 8.3 percent in 2008. But the 2012 turnout was substantially lower than the 18.0 percent who turned out in 2000.

The two states with the lowest turnouts and the largest decreases since 2008 were Virginia whose turnout was 4.6 percent of eligibles and substantially lower than the 8.8 percent who voted in 2008; and Missouri where 5.6 percent of eligibles cast their ballots, lower than the 13.5 percent who voted in 2008. But they had an excuse for their delinquency. Missouri’s primary came highly advertised as a “beauty contest” which would have no bearing on delegate allocation and only two candidates, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, were on the Virginia ballot.

While the turnout trends in primaries does not have a history of correlation with general election turnout and the Republican Party is likely to be united against President Obama, both the divisions within the party, the lack of enthusiasm with the primary candidates by a large elements of the party and the comparatively low turnout may signal a turnout decline in this year’s general election.

Read the full report here.

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2012-03-08 00:00:00

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