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Republicans Show Turnout Advantage

Updated: 5 days ago

Democrats are trailing in enthusiasm as primaries come to an end

One of the most important predictors of victory in a US Presidential Race is voter enthusiasm for their candidate.

If this holds true come November, it could be one more nail in the coffin of the Biden Campaign and disastrous years for the nation.

The primaries and caucuses have all concluded across the country, and now experts are studying the final data and attempting to read the tea leaves for the general election.

In the month's long primary season — it was GOP rank and file excitement for Trump that won the day, compared with Democrats support for Biden.

Intriguing Trends

Some interesting voting patterns showed up in the 2024 presidential primaries. For example, approximately four million more people voted in Republican contests than Democratic, meaning that about 55% of the people who participated in a nominating system this year cast their ballot on the GOP side.

At least in the early cycle, the Republicans had at least a somewhat competitive nomination campaign, though such was quickly dispelled once voters began casting their ballots — this accounts for some of the early imbalance.

In six states, the governing party either awarded their delegate slate to the leading candidate — something that happens from time to time in both parties when they have the incumbent president — or the state (i.e., Florida and South Dakota) didn't report totals for unopposed candidates. Therefore, we have no basis for comparison between the two parties in these particular places. 

In 44 states and the District of Columbia, however, both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates received recorded votes. Studying these contests, we find that in 32 states, more Republicans voted than Democrats; in other words, Democratic turnout came out on top in just 13 of the 45 entities.

Considering the reported totals are actual votes, primary turnout may be the best indicator of voter enthusiasm. If so, then the Republicans commanded the decided edge during the primaries.

There were also quite a few surprises in trove of numbers, including states where a particular party over-performed within the turnout model. 13 states reported curious figures — numbers that should raise political observers' eyebrows. 

Of the baker's dozen with unusual participation figures, or considered key swing states in November, all but two — Pennsylvania and Utah — favored the Republicans. Of course, there are many reasons why individuals choose to vote as they do, but it is obviously better to be on the side that has more voters. 

The surprising states where more Republicans than Democrats voted are Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Virginia. Also, more Republicans than Democrats voted in Hawaii, but in a caucus format. The Vermont Republican primary, which former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley won, clearly had many crossover voters coming into the Republican booth to vote against Donald Trump. 

In the swing state category, more Republicans voted than Democrats in Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin. As mentioned above, more Democrats voted in Pennsylvania.

The primary turnout figures could provide clues as to what may happen in the key Senate races, as well. So far, key nominations have been awarded through primary voting in Maryland, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. 

In two states — Maryland and Pennsylvania — more Democrats voted in the Senate race than Republicans. In Montana, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia, the reverse was true. 

The Maryland Senate primary featured one of the most expensive campaigns in American primary history. US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) spent over $62 million of his own money, only to lose to Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks by a rather substantial 53-43% margin.  

Over 380,000 more people voted in the Maryland Democratic primary than its Republican counterpart. This puts GOP nominee, former Governor Larry Hogan, in a political hole ahead of the general election. Hogan's crossover appeal to Democrats and Independents will help him, but the early general election numbers are not nearly as favorable as they were when Hogan first began his Senate campaign.

In Pennsylvania, both Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) and businessman David McCormick (R) were unopposed in their respective primaries. More than 146,000 more people voted for Casey than McCormick — a bad preliminary sign for GOP general election prospects.

West Virginia is a virtual lock for Republicans without Sen. Joe Manchin running for the Democrats. GOP Senate turnout was just over 121,000 voters greater than Democrats.

In Texas, the Republican primary produced a whopping 1.27 million voter difference between those voting in the Republican primary versus the Democratic option. This is certainly a favorable trend for Sen. Ted Cruz (R). 

Republicans swamped the Democratic turnout base in Ohio, but the GOP also held a competitive multi-candidate primary that drew a great deal of attention. Still, seeing that the vote difference between the two parties (more than 569,000) is greater than the number of votes the unopposed incumbent received (Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown received just over 535,000 votes), is not a favorable predictor for one seeking re-election.

Finally, in Montana, where Sen. Jon Tester (D) is on the ballot for a fourth term, the Republican vote totals were over 80,000 more than the Democratic totals. This number, in a small state, is very large and, like ex-Gov. Hogan in Maryland, Sen. Tester is forced to start with an enthusiasm deficit factor far behind that of his Republican opponent, former Navy SEAL and aerospace businessman Tim Sheehy.

In all, the primary turnout numbers will probably prove to be a comparatively minor calculating figure when peering ahead toward the general election. Even so, in most cases, the trends they represent will likely prove significant with regard to the final outcome.

Jim Ellis is a 35-year veteran of politics at the state and national levels. He has served ss executive director for two national political action committees, as well as a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, he earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979. Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident. He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH. Jim also is a member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which officiates high school games throughout the region.

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