- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The White House on Wednesday downplayed record-breaking voter turnout in this year’s Republican presidential primaries, fudging the election math and saying few swing states have held contests yet.

“The fact is there were not too many battle ground states that convened primaries or caucuses” on Super Tuesday, said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

He pointed to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton receiving more votes than any of the six GOP candidates in the swing state of Virginia and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont getting more votes than all Republicans combined in Minnesota.

“I think this is an indication that there is ample enthusiasm on the Democratic side, particularly in the places where it matters most in the general election,” Mr. Earnest said.

Mrs. Clinton received about 503,000 votes in Virginia, more than Republican winner Donald Trump, who received about 356,000 votes. But Mrs. Clinton had only one opponent, while Mr. Trump was facing five rivals on the GOP ballot.

Virginia’s Republican primary tallied more than 1 million votes, shattering the record set in 2000 by more than 50 percent. Democrats, meanwhile, came up about 200,000 votes shy of their own record, set in the contested 2008 primary.

John Findlay, executive director of the Virginia Republican Party, said Tuesday’s balloting showed a clear “enthusiasm gap” favoring the GOP.

“Nearly 240,000 more voters chose to cast a ballot for Republican candidates versus Hillary or Bernie,” he said.

Mr. Findlay said Republican turnout exceeded Democrats in almost every region of the Commonwealth, “including key swing cities and counties like Loudoun, Prince William, Henrico, Chesapeake, and Montgomery.”

“The road to the White House runs through these localities - and Republican candidates had more votes on Tuesday than Democrats in each and every one of them,” he said.

Across the nation, Republican voters have been setting records for turnout this year, a phenomenon for which Mr. Trump is taking credit. In Tennessee on Tuesday, GOP turnout was more than 800,000, eclipsing the record by more than 50 percent.

Mr. Earnest cited media reports that some of the high Republican turnout “was actually due to hostility to” Mr. Trump.

“And that way, it will also be a troubling dynamic for Republicans in a general election if that were to occur in a general election, too,” he said.

In Minnesota, Mr. Earnest said, both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders got more votes than any Republican candidate. Democratic turnout was more than 190,000, while Republican turnout was about 112,000.

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