This update is going to have to be relatively short as my wireless has suffered a catastrophic failure and I’m forced to post from my iPhone.
As you will recall, I’ve been paying very close attention to how turnout has been going in the Republican race with an eye to my theory that Republicans in blue/swing states are unenthused by this crop of candidates. In my mind, the difference in turnout this cycle as compared to 2008 may be very telling as an indicator of that enthusiasm.
Tonight added two more strong data points supporting my theory. In Colorado, a longtime red state that turned blue in 2008, 65,479 Republicans turned out to vote in their caucuses. This was down from 70,229 in 2008, a decrease of 6.8% in participation.
The drop was even more impressive in Minnesota. There (interestingly, Minnesota is one of the most reliably blue states in Presidential contests, but with a very strong GOP presence on the state/local level), there Republicans have cast 47,280 votes with 91.3% of precincts reporting, giving us a simple estimate that 51,785 votes will have been cast when all is said and done. (An important caveat: there are a number of factors that may cause the final vote total to be higher or lower than the simple estimate). In 2008, however, Minnesota Republicans cast 62,828 votes. Thus, if the current pace holds up, GOP turnout in Minnesota will be down 17.7% compared with 2008.
So now, a quick recap:
New Hampshire: +5.8%
As I’ve noted before, Democratic turnout was up 16% overall between 2000 and 2004. Yes, some of that certainly has to do with the relative competitiveness of those races, but still: Republicans in 2008 blue states do not seem enthused to pick the guy to replace Obama.. Notice also how, with the exception of Minnesota, these “blue states” aren’t exactly Democratic strongholds. Every state listed above (again excepting Minnesota) went red for George W. Bush at least once. By and large, these are battleground states that Republicans must flip to red if they want to defeat President Obama. Yet, Republicans in these states seem apathetic. The GOP is missing a huge opportunity for party building, organization, registration, and recruitment.
*Note – I included no discussion of the Missouri caucuses in this post as they will award no delegates this cycle, an externality which may affect turnout that this relatively simple analysis cannot account for.