Friday, September 10, 2010

Low primary turnout means big trouble for Democrats

Voter turnout for Democrats has hit historically low levels in this year's primary elections, a new American University study shows, which could mean trouble for President Obama's party this fall.

"Democrats are at an enormous disadvantage," said Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at the university. Gans' examination of 35 states that held statewide primaries this year, released Tuesday, showed turnout among Democratic voters at its lowest level in 80 years.

At stake Nov. 2: control of Congress, 37 governor's seats and the state legislatures that will redraw congressional district boundaries after this year's Census.

Gans said 4 million more Republican voters than Democrats voted this year, the first time that has happened in midterm elections since 1930.

The apparent enthusiasm gap comes after a presidential election when the energy was on the Democratic side. Gans said he's seen similar reversals in party turnout before, most notably after the 1992 contest that put Bill Clinton in the White House. Two years later, voters booted Democrats from power on Capitol Hill.

"This is precisely the kind of disillusion that brought the Democrats down in 1994," Gans said. He blamed the faltering economy for the latest numbers. "What the last 16 months have done is rob the public of the hope that was engendered in 2008."

Gans found that as of Sept. 1, 17.1 million people voted in Republican contests, compared with 12.9 million voting in Democratic primaries. He put GOP turnout at 10.5% of eligible voters, up from 8.2% four years ago. Democratic turnout was down, from 8.7% to 8.3%.

Catch that - - "17.1 million people voted in Republican contests, compared with 12.9 million voting in Democratic primaries"

The smaller Republican party has turned out over 4 million more voters than the larger Democratic party - - almost one third more!

So far this year, Democrats are staying home, while Republicans are voting.

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