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Does the Democrat turnout advantage in the primaries really mean anything?

ProfJohn

Lifer
Jul 28, 2006
18,251
5
0
Ok we hear a lot about how the Democrats are killing the Republicans when it comes to voter turn out in the primaries.

So I thought I would dig around and see if we can determine if these numbers really mean anything.

I went back to the 2000 elections since that is the last time both parties had a contested nomination and looked at some numbers and here are the results.

New Hampshire:
Total Democrat votes in primary 154,000
Total Republican votes in primary 238,000
Bush won by only 8,000 votes

Delaware:
Democrat votes in primary = 11,000
Republican votes = 30,000
Gore won by 40,000+ votes.

Washington:
Democrat votes = 297,000
Republican votes = 521,000
Gore won the state by 140,000 votes

California:
Democrat votes = 2,654,114
Republican votes = 2,847,921
Gore won by 1.3 million votes

Conn.
Both parties had almost the same vote at 177,000
Gore won the state by 350,000 votes

That is five states before Super Tuesday and before McCain and Bradley both dropped out and in all five the results of the primary total was not even close to the results of the general election.

This would suggest that looking at the turnout in the primaries is not a good indicator of what is going to happen in the general election. Most likely the high Republican turnout in 2000 was a result of the race between Bush and McCain being far more interesting and closer than the race between Gore and Bradley. Which means that the Democrat advantage we are seeing this time around could be a result of Hillary and Obama being more interesting that anything on the Republican side. This is also backed up with the surveys which show that many Republican were not happy with their choices this time around and it is therefore possible that caused a drop in voter turnout.

But when the general election roles around it becomes a totally different ball game. The guy who doesn?t take the time to show up and vote for McCain, Rudy or Romney will be far more likely to vote in the general election in order to keep a liberal Democrat out of office.

Thoughts from the P&N crazies?

Sources of data primary vote totals
general election results



*Update*
Found this one realclearpolitics.com. Proves that I am right in my thesis that Democrat turnout in the primaries does not lead to Democrat victory in the fall.
link
(edited out a lot from the article)
For instance, some Democrats - and many in the media, for that matter - are pointing to the relatively high turnout in the Democratic primaries as evidence of an enthusiasm gap that advantages the Democrats. Without commenting on who has an advantage in November, I will say that this particular argument is problematic.

Roughly 62.2% of all primary votes have been cast in the Democratic primary. This is an impressive statistic. However, by itself it does not count as evidence of a Democratic advantage. The reason is that Democrats typically out-perform Republicans in the primaries. The following chart compares the Democrats' share of primary turnout against their share of the two-party vote in the general election.

As you can see - 62.2% is far from extraordinary. Even when we exempt the years in which the Republican Party had non-competitive contests (1972, 1984 and 2004), the Democrats typically out-perform the GOP. Pulling in 62.2% of the primary vote is no unique feat for the Democrats. 1996 is telling. Bill Clinton had no serious challenge while Bob Dole faced a protracted battle against multiple opponents. And yet the GOP still only pulled in 55% of the primary vote.

Another key year is 1988. This is the best apples-to-apples comparison of 2008 that there is. That year, both parties had open nomination battles. The Democrats out-performed the GOP by a margin larger than what they have done this year, pulling in a little more than 65% of the total primary vote. Did it do them any good in the general? No. George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis, 54% to 46%.

So, there is apparently no connection between Democratic primary turnout and the Democratic vote in the general. Why not? I would suggest two reasons. First, higher turnout is in many respects a consequence of drama rather than enthusiasm. In years past, the Democrats have had more dramatic primary battles that have intrigued and engaged voters. This year is no exception. Dramatic races might actually have a negative effect on the party because it drains time and money from the eventual nominee.

Second, our system does not weigh votes according to enthusiasm. I think it is clear that there is an enthusiasm gap this year. I also think that part of the vote difference between the GOP and the Democrats might be a consequence of this gap. However, enthusiasm can only do so much for a candidate. If Voter A can't decide whom to support on Election Day, and breaks the tie by flipping a coin - his vote counts as exactly one vote. If Voter B is so excited to support his beloved candidate that he can't sleep the night before - his vote counts for exactly...one vote!

Where enthusiasm has an effect is in the relative likelihood that Voters A and B will vote. Voter B is almost assured to vote while Voter A is much less likely. This is the benefit that accrues to the candidate with enthusiasm on his side. However, the likelihood of Voter A actually voting increases as the competitiveness of the contest increases. Competitive elections generate attention and interest, and therefore participation. This is why, for instance, turnout was down 8 million votes between 1992 and 1996, was back up in 2000 and even higher in 2004. What's the difference? 1992, 2000 and 2004 were intense elections that captivated the nation. 1996 was not.

Where I think enthusiasm could have the biggest effect is in the money both candidates are able to bring in. This is probably one reason McCain is going to press Obama to take public financing. Obama's enthusiastic voters count for just one vote apiece, but they can give him a financial edge over McCain that public financing would nullify.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,991
853
126
Well, as we all know, electors are ~supposed~ to vote as their districts do. That said, it doesnt matter if 10 or 10k vote, they should still vote per their district.

Of course, they could always vote for THEIR choice. So no. It doesnt matter.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
73,374
25,129
136
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
Ok we hear a lot about how the Democrats are killing the Republicans when it comes to voter turn out in the primaries.

So I thought I would dig around and see if we can determine if these numbers really mean anything.

I went back to the 2000 elections since that is the last time both parties had a contested nomination and looked at some numbers and here are the results.

New Hampshire:
Total Democrat votes in primary 154,000
Total Republican votes in primary 238,000
Bush won by only 8,000 votes

Delaware:
Democrat votes in primary = 11,000
Republican votes = 30,000
Gore won by 40,000+ votes.

Washington:
Democrat votes = 297,000
Republican votes = 521,000
Gore won the state by 140,000 votes

California:
Democrat votes = 2,654,114
Republican votes = 2,847,921
Gore won by 1.3 million votes

Conn.
Both parties had almost the same vote at 177,000
Gore won the state by 350,000 votes

That is five states before Super Tuesday and before McCain and Bradley both dropped out and in all five the results of the primary total was not even close to the results of the general election.

This would suggest that looking at the turnout in the primaries is not a good indicator of what is going to happen in the general election. Most likely the high Republican turnout in 2000 was a result of the race between Bush and McCain being far more interesting and closer than the race between Gore and Bradley. Which means that the Democrat advantage we are seeing this time around could be a result of Hillary and Obama being more interesting that anything on the Republican side. This is also backed up with the surveys which show that many Republican were not happy with their choices this time around and it is therefore possible that caused a drop in voter turnout.

But when the general election roles around it becomes a totally different ball game. The guy who doesn?t take the time to show up and vote for McCain, Rudy or Romney will be far more likely to vote in the general election in order to keep a liberal Democrat out of office.

Thoughts from the P&N crazies?

Sources of data primary vote totals
general election results
There's a flaw in what you're trying to do. You are comparing states that are comfortably either Republican or Democrat (with the possible exception of NH) and then saying because they didn't change hands that primary turnout is meaningless.

So no, I don't think high primary turnout will suddenly change deep red states to blue ones or vice versa. It IS however a very broad measure of enthusiasm by the electorate, and since most swing states are decided by a few % points or fractions thereof it could be very important.

Simply put, eight years of Bush has energized Democratic voters like no other time that I have seen in my entire life. I mean it's not even close. Almost every single person I know is excited to vote, not just for their candidates but to give a huge 'fuck you' to the Republicans. These are people that aren't normally political in any way, and even they are chomping at the bit. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but it seems to be echoed wherever I go. Republicans on the other hand seem demoralized, they don't even like Bush anymore and most of the ones I know don't like their candidates much either. (it seems the Democrats I know like McCain more then the Republicans do)
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,522
4,198
126
Originally posted by: eskimospy
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
Ok we hear a lot about how the Democrats are killing the Republicans when it comes to voter turn out in the primaries.

So I thought I would dig around and see if we can determine if these numbers really mean anything.

I went back to the 2000 elections since that is the last time both parties had a contested nomination and looked at some numbers and here are the results.

New Hampshire:
Total Democrat votes in primary 154,000
Total Republican votes in primary 238,000
Bush won by only 8,000 votes

Delaware:
Democrat votes in primary = 11,000
Republican votes = 30,000
Gore won by 40,000+ votes.

Washington:
Democrat votes = 297,000
Republican votes = 521,000
Gore won the state by 140,000 votes

California:
Democrat votes = 2,654,114
Republican votes = 2,847,921
Gore won by 1.3 million votes

Conn.
Both parties had almost the same vote at 177,000
Gore won the state by 350,000 votes

That is five states before Super Tuesday and before McCain and Bradley both dropped out and in all five the results of the primary total was not even close to the results of the general election.

This would suggest that looking at the turnout in the primaries is not a good indicator of what is going to happen in the general election. Most likely the high Republican turnout in 2000 was a result of the race between Bush and McCain being far more interesting and closer than the race between Gore and Bradley. Which means that the Democrat advantage we are seeing this time around could be a result of Hillary and Obama being more interesting that anything on the Republican side. This is also backed up with the surveys which show that many Republican were not happy with their choices this time around and it is therefore possible that caused a drop in voter turnout.

But when the general election roles around it becomes a totally different ball game. The guy who doesn?t take the time to show up and vote for McCain, Rudy or Romney will be far more likely to vote in the general election in order to keep a liberal Democrat out of office.

Thoughts from the P&N crazies?

Sources of data primary vote totals
general election results
There's a flaw in what you're trying to do. You are comparing states that are comfortably either Republican or Democrat (with the possible exception of NH) and then saying because they didn't change hands that primary turnout is meaningless.

So no, I don't think high primary turnout will suddenly change deep red states to blue ones or vice versa. It IS however a very broad measure of enthusiasm by the electorate, and since most swing states are decided by a few % points or fractions thereof it could be very important.

Simply put, eight years of Bush has energized Democratic voters like no other time that I have seen in my entire life. I mean it's not even close. Almost every single person I know is excited to vote, not just for their candidates but to give a huge 'fuck you' to the Republicans. These are people that aren't normally political in any way, and even they are chomping at the bit. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but it seems to be echoed wherever I go. Republicans on the other hand seem demoralized, they don't even like Bush anymore and most of the ones I know don't like their candidates much either. (it seems the Democrats I know like McCain more then the Republicans do)
You must be a Hillary supporter with that fuck you to Republicans approach. I sympathize, but my better self says no, we need them to to change America. The need for war and revenge needs to give way to hope and unity.
 

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,038
5,125
126
Who cares? Worst we can do is McCain, who is pretty damn liberal. He isn't too far from Bill Clinton on most issues that matter.
So we liberals have little to lose in 2008. Conservatives can only hope for McCain, who most consider a RINO, and at worst could have Hillary, or even the communisty organizer Obama Hussein.
 

Lemon law

Lifer
Nov 6, 2005
20,984
2
0
I still fail to understand where McCain the liberal came from? As far as I am concerned, McCain is a conservative who happened to have opposed a few GWB radical policies. As for GWB&co., the liberal conservative scale no longer applies when you are dealing with basic fascists who somehow hijacked the GOP away from the traditional ideals its has stood for.

Someone like Kucinich may be a liberal in the classic definition, at best Hillary comes from the conservative wing of the democratic party.

Even if the GOP leadership seems to have lost its collective mind, the American voting public
has shown by its choices, that they have not lost theirs.

American made a wrong turn in the year 2000 and now, we must back up, get back on a better path, before we can move forward again.
 

jonks

Lifer
Feb 7, 2005
13,918
18
81
I don't think you can compare this year's primaries to previous years, as from what I'm reading/hearing, the turnout is breaking the records of previous years in many states. This speaks of more than "enthusiasm".

As to whether or not it will have any noticeable affect in Nov, guess we'll have to wait and see.

Hm, did some searching and found many republican primaries also had record turnout.
 

Genx87

Lifer
Apr 8, 2002
41,063
495
126
I'd be surprised if it has much of an effect. What you witnessed was a republican nomination that went uncontested after the first few primaries. People dont get excited about a blowout. The democratic nomination process is neck and neck. Of course people get motivated to get out and vote when it is that close.
 

heyheybooboo

Diamond Member
Jun 29, 2007
6,278
0
0
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
Updated the OP with evidence that I am right :)
Yes. You are truly a Legend In Your Own Mind.

Your analysis is highly flawed and does not account for the fact that turnout in primaries is typically 50% OR less than that in general elections. As a matter of fact, voter turnout in primary elections seldom exceeds 15% of voter registrations.

There is also substantial debate as to the proper way to measure turnout. Some report turnout as a percentage of voter registrations; statistically it is prefered to measure turnout as a percentage of the eligible voting age population.

Your 'random analysis' is a false comparison and hypothesis.

More than half of presidential primary states in 2008 have broken 'voter turnout' records regardless of how they are calculated.



Delaware:
Democrat votes in primary = 11,000
Republican votes = 30,000
Gore won by 40,000+ votes.

General Election Turnout: 311,000


Washington:
Democrat votes = 297,000
Republican votes = 521,000
Gore won the state by 140,000 votes

General Election Turnout: 2,260,000

California:
Democrat votes = 2,654,114
Republican votes = 2,847,921
Gore won by 1.3 million votes

General Election Turnout: 10,847,000

Conn.
Both parties had almost the same vote at 177,000
Gore won the state by 350,000 votes

General Election Turnout: 1,410,000


And everybody knows Johnnie, the hallmark of the Republican party is to suppress voter turnout.

Thank you. Come again.
 

heyheybooboo

Diamond Member
Jun 29, 2007
6,278
0
0
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Can you provide the same data for the key "swing" states? (FL, OH, etc)

I snagged the 2000 vote totals from here --->
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0876793.html

Your neighbor in Fairfax has some good stats ---->
http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm

Statistical overload from the Census Bureau --->
http://www.census.gov/populati...ww/socdemo/voting.html

Florida primary turnout in 2000 was around 13% - looks like around 15% in 2004.

Ohio primary turnout in 2000 was around 31% - looks like around 28% in 2004.



 

Eeezee

Diamond Member
Jul 23, 2005
9,923
0
0
"No one can predict the future."

Good job, do you have any other gems of wisdom for us? I thought it was obvious that turnout in the primaries doesn't necessarily reflect turnout for the general election. A lot of people don't even know WHEN their primary is, but everyone knows to vote in the general election.

Anyone who points at the primary and declares the next president is a moron. The problem is people will come back and say "SEE, I WAS RIGHT" and we'll see the same idiots in 4 years making the same poor guesses.

If I make a 50/50 guess as to the winner of the general election and get proven right, the fact that I was right doesn't necessarily reflect on my ability to predict presidential candidates. Predicting the election's result based on the primaries is sheer idiocy.
 

jonks

Lifer
Feb 7, 2005
13,918
18
81
thread subtitle: *Updated with proof that I am right!!!!!*

updated post: "Updated the OP with evidence that I am right"

From proof to evidence in 30 seconds.

your next post should read: "updated with past indications that might possibly have a bearing on this year's election or might be completely irrelevant given the enthusiasm in the Obama campaign hasn't been seen for a candidate in decades rendering any opinion I have on the subject moot. You can safely ignore me now."

Now do the generals always reflect primary turnout? duh, no. Are they an indicator? Possibly in some situations. Great, now we're all enlightened.
 

Thump553

Lifer
Jun 2, 2000
11,941
1,274
126
It's tough to isolate all the other factors to get a clear comparison. I would reject out of hand the comparison to 1988 as beign frankly preposterous. The GOP ran GW Bush, a sitting Vice President under a popular President, essentially good times in the economy and GW Bush also had sterling credentials (war hero, former - and good - CIA head, etc.). He ran against Dukakis, who frankly was a pathetic joke, probably the weakest candidate either party ran in the 20th century. No credentials, horrible campaigner, nothing.

Here the Dems have two good, solid candidates, bad (and worsening) economy, moronic war that makes less sense than even Vietnam did, a horribly unpopular GOP President. The Dem turnout is a clear sign of an energized base. The only thing raining on their parade is that the GOP apparently will be nominating the only viable candidate they had, with the rest of the field being a bunch of clowns.

I'm not predicting a walkover in November, far from it. It's going to be a very tight election in my view, and the outcome is going to probably turn on what happens between now and then, particularly regarding Iraq, the economy, possibly Pakistan, Iran and/or North Korea (if any of them flare up).

I'm also predicting the Obama v. Clinton matter will not cause any permanent damage to the Dem's chances. Look how much major portions of the GOP were in total revolt only a few weeks ago. McCain is going to walk a very difficult tightrope to placate the Rush/Coulter wackos without alienating the crucial independent voters.

If it ends up being Obama v. McCain I think it will be a campaign and election all of us will remember, with pride, for the remainder of our lives.
 

Lemon law

Lifer
Nov 6, 2005
20,984
2
0
I do tend to agree that the OP has failed to prove his case and is more likely engaging in wishful thinking. The general election is still eight months away, lots can happen between now and then, but the GOP, like it or not, will have to run on the GWB record which quite frankly STINKS.

McCain has hardly energized the GOP base and I think Obama can really energize the democratic base.

But the acid test will come on 11/4/08. Until then, puff on, but its the dems that will have the the long odds wind at their backs. All the dems have to do is hold their base states and win a few swing states.
 

ProfJohn

Lifer
Jul 28, 2006
18,251
5
0
Originally posted by: heyheybooboo
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
Updated the OP with evidence that I am right :)
Yes. You are truly a Legend In Your Own Mind.

Your analysis is highly flawed and does not account for the fact that turnout in primaries is typically 50% OR less than that in general elections. As a matter of fact, voter turnout in primary elections seldom exceeds 15% of voter registrations.

There is also substantial debate as to the proper way to measure turnout. Some report turnout as a percentage of voter registrations; statistically it is prefered to measure turnout as a percentage of the eligible voting age population.

Your 'random analysis' is a false comparison and hypothesis.

More than half of presidential primary states in 2008 have broken 'voter turnout' records regardless of how they are calculated.
Click on the link in the second half of my post and look at the graph they provide. (I fixed the link)

Since 1972 the Democrats have lead in primary turnout every election except 1996 and 2000.

Despite the fact that the Democrats outpolled the Republicans in the primaries 7 times in that time frame they only won twice.

Which means the fact that the Democrats are out polling the Republicans is meaningless!!!!
Which is essentially what I said in my original OP.

Thank you.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,515
0
0
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
Originally posted by: heyheybooboo
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
Updated the OP with evidence that I am right :)
Yes. You are truly a Legend In Your Own Mind.

Your analysis is highly flawed and does not account for the fact that turnout in primaries is typically 50% OR less than that in general elections. As a matter of fact, voter turnout in primary elections seldom exceeds 15% of voter registrations.

There is also substantial debate as to the proper way to measure turnout. Some report turnout as a percentage of voter registrations; statistically it is prefered to measure turnout as a percentage of the eligible voting age population.

Your 'random analysis' is a false comparison and hypothesis.

More than half of presidential primary states in 2008 have broken 'voter turnout' records regardless of how they are calculated.
Click on the link in the second half of my post and look at the graph they provide. (I fixed the link)

Since 1972 the Democrats have lead in primary turnout every election except 1996 and 2000.

Despite the fact that the Democrats outpolled the Republicans in the primaries 7 times in that time frame they only won twice.

Which means the fact that the Democrats are out polling the Republicans is meaningless!!!!
Which is essentially what I said in my original OP.

Thank you.
Well that's ALMOST what you're saying. If you are attempting to argue that victory in the Presidential election doesn't seem to be closely related to having a greater turnout in the primary, then you're right. But you're not arguing that, you're arguing that voter turnout in the primary is meaningless in the context of this specific election, something you have very much failed to prove.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
345
126
Originally posted by: Lemon law
I still fail to understand where McCain the liberal came from? As far as I am concerned, McCain is a conservative who happened to have opposed a few GWB radical policies. As for GWB&co., the liberal conservative scale no longer applies when you are dealing with basic fascists who somehow hijacked the GOP away from the traditional ideals its has stood for.

Someone like Kucinich may be a liberal in the classic definition, at best Hillary comes from the conservative wing of the democratic party.

Even if the GOP leadership seems to have lost its collective mind, the American voting public
has shown by its choices, that they have not lost theirs.

American made a wrong turn in the year 2000 and now, we must back up, get back on a better path, before we can move forward again.
/agree. McCain is right-wing.
 

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