As I mentioned after South Carolina, one of the most interesting things to watch in this campaign is the difference in turnout between 2008 and 2012. In that post, I noted that turnout in the two bluer states at the beginning of the process was essentially flat, while turnout in South Carolina rocketed up by 35%. I hypothesized then that we might be seeing the beginning of a trend in which the Republican base is energized in heavily Republican states but unenthusiastic in more contentious areas, a situation that if true would be very bad for GOP electoral math.
Well, with more than 99% of the precincts reporting, it looks as though we have more evidence for that trend. Florida, consistently one of the most important swing states in Presidential elections, sent only about 1.65 million of its voters to the polls today, down from 1.95 million in 2008, a decrease of 15%. In this election, in which Republicans are supposed to be as fired up to unseat President Obama as any party has been to unseat the sitting President ever, there seems to be very little enthusiasm for the candidates vying to do that unseating. This conclusion is underscored further by the exit polling coming out of Florida, which showed that 38% of Florida Republicans who actually voted are unsatisfied with the current slate of candidates and want to see someone else enter. Imagine how much larger that number must be among all Florida Republicans.
Looking ahead on our calendar, the coming contests can either cement or blow up this theory. With the sole exception of Arizona on the 28th, all of the February primary and caucus states states (Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, and Michigan) voted for President Obama in 2008. A trend from the first four states can be a coincidence or a fluke, but if it holds true through 10 states, it starts to look like a solid reality and a real problem.