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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Campaign 2012

GOP Primary Turnout Down from 2008, 2000

New study says trend could point to lower general-election turnout.

Average Republican turnout has been lower through Super Tuesday than in those same states’ primaries in 2008 and 2000 -- a trend that could point to lower turnout in November, a new study shows.

“While the turnout trend in primaries does not have a history of correlation with general-election turnout and the Republican Party is likely to be united against President Obama," the study concludes, "both the divisions within the party, the lack of enthusiasm with the primary candidates by a large elements of the party, and the comparatively low turnout may signal a turnout decline in this year’s general election."

The Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate released the study on Thursday. It found that final results from the 13 primaries, seven of which were held on Tuesday, showed just over 7.8 million people voted out of 68.1 million eligible citizens — amounting to an 11.5 percent turnout. That percentage is lower than 2008 and 2000, when voter turnout hit 13.2 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively.

 

Turnout was higher in five of those states, all of which allow open primaries in which either independents or both Democratic and independents are allowed to participate.

New Hampshire has had the highest turnout percentage in the race thus far, hitting 24.5 percent, up 0.3 percentage points from 2008, but almost two percentage points lower than 2000.

The states with the lowest turnout were Virginia at 4.6 percent and Missouri at 5.6 percent. Only two major candidates were on the ballot in the Old Dominion, where Mitt Romney took home a win. Missouri’s primary was more of a beauty contest and did not award any delegates, though Rick Santorum still touted his victory there.

 

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