Turnout was low at Tuesday’s primaries. Was a bad omen for the GOP, or just another data point with some interesting context?
Bad Omen: Michael Brodkorb at Politics.mn throws up a warning sign:
Back in February, in my pre-precinct caucus primer, I encouraged people to compare the number of total attendees at precinct caucuses for the DFL and GOP. If the numbers were close, I wrote this could be a sign of malaise amongst Republican activists. Even with multiple candidates not abiding by the Republican Party of Minnesota’s endorsement for statewide offices, Republicans should have more attendees at their precinct caucuses. But they didn’t.
At the time of precinct caucuses, the Minnesota DFL has only one contested statewide race, as Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is not seeking re-election. Governor Mark Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken faced no opposition within the DFL Party. There were also 12 Republican statewide campaigns – six for governor and six for the U.S. Senate. Republicans also had contested endorsement races in the 6th, 2nd, and 1st Congressional Districts of Minnesota. The battles between the Republicans candidates for congress and statewide office should have encouraged more participation by Republicans on the night of precinct caucuses than Democrats. But the Minnesota DFL won the night. This should be a warning sign for Republicans.
Michael’s knows his politics. I’d be hard-pressed to argue, much. But to play devil’s advocate – what percentage of the state’s total population is “the GOP base” that turns out for primaries?
And among those who are the “soft-core” base – the ones that’ll do primaries, but not usually caucuses? Does a fractious, contentious primary make them more or less likely to come to the polls for a primary?
Finally – there were some crowded races (and at the legislative level, some interesting ones). But one might be forgiven for thinking…:
- the Senate race was a foregone conclusion, and didn’t need any given person’s vote
- in August as in January (at the AM1280/Northeast Metro GOP debate), we had a four-way race among governor candidates who just weren’t all that different. Wonks like Michael and (to some extent) me could tell the difference between Scott Honour and Kurt Zellers. Outside the GOP wonk class?
Again, I’m just devils’ advocatin’.
Interesting Context: On the other hand, Andy Aplikowski at ResFor – a person from whom I’ve learned more about political number-crunching than any single person in the MNGOP – writes:
All the focus on failure is on Republican turnout.
OLE’ SAVIOR AND TODD “ELVIS” ANDERSON 4396
LESLIE DAVIS AND GREGORY K. SODERBERG 8598
BOB CARNEY JR AND WILLIAM MCGAUGHEY 9856
TOM EMMER AND ANNETTE T. MEEKS 107558
MARTY SEIFERT AND PAM MYHRA 38798
KURT ZELLERS AND DEAN SIMPSON 43991
MERRILL ANDERSON AND MARK ANDERSON 7008
JEFF JOHNSON AND BILL KUISLE 55813
SCOTT HONOUR AND KARIN HOUSLEY 38331
Wait, the GOP turned out 53,000 more voters than in 2010.
I think why you see some people trying to paint the narrative of GOP voter apathy is because DFL apathy has reached toxic levels.
MARGARET ANDERSON KELLIHER AND JOHN GUNYOU 175767
PETER IDUSOGIE AND LADY JAYNE FONTAINE 3123
MATT ENTENZA AND ROBYNE ROBINSON 80509
MARK DAYTON AND YVONNE PRETTNER SOLON 182738
2014 DFL Totals
BILL DAHN AND JAMES VIGLIOTTI 4896
LESLIE DAVIS AND GREGORY K. SODERBERG 8529
MARK DAYTON AND TINA SMITH 177737
The DFL saw a 251,000 drop off in voter turnout and barely drew more voters than the GOP in 2014.
To go back to devil’s advocate mode: you can expect a drop-off; in 2010 there was a highly contentious governor’s race on the DFL side. The only real competitive races on the DFL side this time were the State Auditor and the Secretary of State (which we discussed yesterday, and don’t look like good news to the DFL candidate to me).
A drop-off of over half?
My Admittedly Wishful Take: I’m going to hope – and I am admittedly basing this on hope – that the numbers are sign of diminished enthusiasm on the Democrats’ part, and hope that the GOP candidates can appeal to the non-primary-going public this fall.
Which is the big challenge.