Everyone is going to be talking about Newt Gingrich’s huge win tonight (and I’ll probably be talking about it more myself) but the trend I’m following in this GOP race is the turnout. As a lot of people know, Republican turnout in both Iowa and New Hampshire barely increased from 2008 to 2012. South Carolina seems to be bucking the trend however. With 20% of precincts still outstanding, 30,000 more votes have already been cast than in 2008.
The obvious reaction to this is to think that the Republican base is fired up and ready to take on President Obama, but why didn’t this show up in Iowa and New Hampshire? Perhaps its relevant that South Carolina is as deep-red a state as they come, while New Hampshire and Iowa are much bluer (although both have gone red in recent elections). Will this pattern hold as the primary season wears on – with swing and blue states showing limited turnout and red states going gorillas? Will turnout grow or wane across the board as the election season wears on and the race becomes better-defined? Inquiring minds are very interested to know.
UPDATE: With 99.5% of precincts reporting, over 600,000 votes were cast in South Carolina, up from 445,000 in 2008. Republicans should hope this continues, this is the first hard evidence we’ve seen of energy/enthusiasm in their base.