2008 Primary Turnout On Pace To Reach Record Highs

Released: 6-Feb-2008 4:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: American University
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Newswise — Voter turnout on Super Tuesday, and in earlier primaries, is on pace to break the record turnout seen during the 1972 presidential primaries. With 27 percent of eligible citizens voting in primaries so far, this year's primary turnout will eclipse the 25.9 percent average recorded in 1972, according to a preliminary Presidential primary report issued today by American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE).

"We are likely to see more records broken until the contests are decided, which in the Democratic Party's case at least may last until their convention," said Curtis Gans, director of CSAE. "But turnout in the primaries may not presage record for the general election."

Overall, more than 24 million Americans have voted in the primaries so far. Of the states which had primaries in both parties, records were set in 15 states. The highest overall turnout in those states included New Hampshire at 51.9 percent of the eligible vote, followed by Massachusetts (37.2), Illinois (32.9), Missouri (32.5), Alabama (31.9), Georgia (31.6) and South Carolina (30.3).

With tight races in both parties, the record numbers were evident on both sides. Voter turnout in Democratic primaries set records in 12 states across the country, including Alabama, Connecticut, New Jersey and Utah. Similarly, Republican turnout nearly equaled that number, setting records in 11 states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York.

"At least some followers of every candidate are likely not to vote and the shape of the race and the virulence of the fall campaign is not possible to ascertain at this time," said Gans. "Usually in a time of recession there is comparatively high turnout to the detriment of the party in power in the White House. But whether turnout will be as high as the 60.9 percent who turned out in 2004 (the highest since 1968) due to the polarization created by the Bush presidency cannot be determined at this time."

The report is based on near final—but unofficial—results from the primaries held through Super Tuesday. It does not include California, which will not complete its count of absentee ballots until Friday, Feb. 8 and also does not include caucuses.

Below are the complete findings of the report:

Of the states which had primaries in both parties, records were set in 15 states " Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

Voter turnout in Democratic primaries set records in 12 states " Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina and Utah.

Republican turnout set records in 11 states " Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.

Overall 24,007,097 citizens have voted in the primaries so far " 13,901,602 in Democratic primaries, 10,105,495 in GOP primaries. The overall average turnout so far has been 27 percent of eligible citizens the highest average, eclipsing the 25.9 percent average in 1972 (albeit with fewer primaries at this juncture).

In states with primaries in both parties, Alabama's 31.9 percent turnout eclipsed its previous high of 20.4 in 1992; Arizona (19.6 compared to its high of 12.1 in 2000); Connecticut (19.8 compared to 17.9 in 1980); Delaware (23.2 compared to 8.1 in 1996); Georgia (31.6 compared to 22.8 in 1988); Illinois (31.6 compared to 29.7 in 1980); Massachusetts (37.2 as compared to 32.1 in 1980); Missouri (32.5 compared to 25.9 in 1988), New Hampshire (51.9 compared to 43.6 in 2000); New Jersey (28 percent compared to 17.4 in 1984); New York (18.3 compared to 13.1 in 2000): Oklahoma (28.6 versus 27.3 in 1992); South Carolina (30.3 compared to 10.1 in 1992); Tennessee (25.7 versus 23.3. in 1988); and Utah (25.8 compared to 7.5 in 2000). (Note that some of these two party primary turnouts compare with a very few number of years in which there were primaries in both parties and don't reflect the comparative individual party turnouts.)

The highest overall turnout in states with primaries in both was recorded in New Hampshire at 51.9 percent of the eligible vote, followed by Massachusetts (37.2), Illinois (32.9), Missouri (32.5), Alabama (31.9), Georgia (31.6) and South Caroline (30.3). The lowest turnouts were recorded in New York (18.3 percent of eligibles), Michigan (19.5), and Connecticut (19.8). (Note at this time Arizona is below 20 percent turnout, but final figures will likely place them higher.)

In Democratic primaries: Alabama set a new record with 15.7 percent of eligibles voting as compared to 15.2 in 1984; Arizona had a 9 percent Democratic turnout compared to 6.4 in 2004; Connecticut (13.8 versus 10.2 in 1988); Georgia (16.5 compared to 14.6 in 1976); Illinois (22.7 versus 21 percent in 1984); Massachusetts (26.6 compared to 22.4 in 1980); Missouri (19 percent versus 14.2 in 1988); New Hampshire (28.5 compared to 22.9 in 2004); New Jersey (18.7 compared to 12.8 in 1984); New York (13.6 compared to 12.8 in 1988); South Carolina (16.5 versus 9.5 in 2004) and Utah (7.8 compared to 2.8 in 1992).

The highest Democratic turnout was in New Hampshire at 28.5 percent of eligibles, followed by Massachusetts (26.6), Illinois (22.7), Missouri (19) and New Jersey (18.7) The lowest occurred in Utah at 7.8 percent of eligibles, followed by Michigan (7.9). The next two in order are Arizona and New Mexico whose votes are less complete than other states.

Records for GOP turnout were set in Alabama at 16.2 percent of eligibles as compared to 7.3 in 1988; Arkansas (9.7 versus 4 percent in 1988); Connecticut (5.9 versus 5.4 in 1996); Delaware (8 percent compared to 6.1 in 1996); Georgia (15.1 compared to 11.3 in 2000); Missouri (13.5 versus 11.6 in 2000); New Jersey (9.4 compared to 5.6 in 1992); Oklahoma (13 percent versus 11 percent in 1996); Tennessee (12.1 compared to 7.3 in 1996) and Utah (18 percent as compared to 6.4 percent in 2000).

The highest GOP turnout was in New Hampshire at 23.3 percent of eligibles, followed by Utah (18), Alabama (16.2), Georgia (15.11) and Florida (15.08). The lowest occurred in New York at 4.8 percent of eligibles, followed by Connecticut at 5.9 and Delaware at 8 percent.


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