- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Voter turnout on Potomac Tuesday — when the Democratic presidential candidates were still waging a fierce battle after John McCain had already become the de facto Republican nominee — may not be the most accurate gauge of party enthusiasm for the November sweepstakes. Nevertheless, in Virginia, which has given its electoral votes to the Republican nominee in each of the last 10 elections, Democratic-primary voters (nearly 1 million) outnumbered their Republican counterparts (fewer than 500,000) by more than 100 percent. In Maryland, where the victory margin of Democratic presidential candidates in 2000 and 2004 averaged 320,000 votes and 15 percentage points, Democratic primary voters (nearly 750,000) outnumbered Republican primary voters (fewer than 300,000) by 46 percentage points (73-27).

Clearly, to the extent that the enthusiasm of a party’s base can be measured by the turnout of its primary voters, the Democratic base was far more energized. This conclusion confirms a trend that began in Iowa, reflected itself in New Hampshire, continued in South Carolina and manifested itself throughout the 24 states that held primaries and caucuses on “Tsunami Tuesday.”

Compared with the 124,000 Iowans who attended Democratic caucuses in 2004, 239,000 showed up this year. Democratic caucus attendees outnumbered Republicans (119,000) this year by more than 100 percent. This suggests that in November the seven electoral votes in Iowa will revert to the Democratic column after switching to the Republican column in 2004 for the first time in five elections. Voters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary increased from 220,000 in 2004 to 284,000 this year, while voters in the Granite State’s Republican primary declined from 238,000 in 2000 to 233,000 this year.

In South Carolina, where Jimmy Carter (1976) has been the only Democrat to capture the Palmetto State’s electoral votes since John F. Kennedy in 1960 (Barry Goldwater beat Lyndon Johnson there in 1964), this year’s Democratic primary voters (530,000) outnumbered Republicans (443,000) by 20 percent. Even in Florida, where the Democratic National Committee disenfranchised the state’s 210 delegates after the state party violated primary-scheduling rules, nearly 1.7 million Democrats voted, not much different from the 1.9 million Republicans who voted in the contested GOP primary.

On Feb. 5, the huge advantage Democrats enjoy in the enthusiasm department was especially evident. Democrats outnumbered Republicans as follows: California (4.1 million vs. 2.3 million); Illinois (2 million vs. 900,000); New Jersey (1.1 million vs. 557,000); Georgia (1.05 million vs. 964,000); Arkansas (298,000 vs. 219,000); Tennessee (614,000 vs. 548,000); Oklahoma (400,000 vs. 330,000); Connecticut (350,000 vs. 150,000); and Missouri, which has supported the winning presidential candidate in 25 of the last 26 elections (820,000 vs. 585,000).

If Potomac Tuesday and Tsunami Tuesday foreshadow the First Tuesday in November …


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