I woke up this morning, went to my local news sources, and was immediately distressed by headlines of low primary voter turnout. “How can this be?” I thought. Republicans just had a heavily contested governor race. Does no one care? Instead of taking things at face value, I decided to pull the voter totals. Here they are:
First, people complaining about low voter turnout are NOT talking about low Republican voter turnout. Republicans showed up en masse. On the other hand, Democrats showed a downright implosion in primary voter turnout. Under HALF the turnout for governor between 2010 and 2014? Crazy. I know it’s an off year and I know the Democrats don’t have any heavily contested races this year. It’s true that Democrats had a very contested Governor race in 2010 and thus spent a ton more cash and therefore pushed much higher turnout. Still that sort of crater can’t be fully explained away by these factors. To see why look at the Democratic vote for US Senate. No crater there, just a slow bleed. Bottom line Democrats have a major enthusiasm problem.
Second take a look at the totals difference between US Senate and Governor. Fewer Dems bothered to vote in the governor race than the US Senate race, yet more Republicans voted in the Governor race than the US Senate race. It’s not a big difference, but it shows that ideological activists are opting to not vote for Dayton or McFadden. In a close race, and Minnesota will have some close races this year, that will be a big deal.
Third it looks like the Independence Party might pick up a few votes over 2012 but is unlikely to have the organization to have a big impact in 2014. With the Independence Party candidates taking positions that will draw as much from Democrats as Republicans (unlike in 2010), it looks like the Independence Party is ill-positioned to have a meaningful impact on Minnesota’s 2014 general election results.
Congratulations to the victors in Minnesota’s 2014 Primary Election. On to the General!