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Are the candidates repelling Republican voters?

ASK THIS | January 15, 2012

GOP voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire has been lackluster. Reporters should pay attention to how many Republicans (not including crossover independents) vote in the upcoming primaries, and not just to the order of finish. Is the pattern continuing?

By Barry Sussman

Voter turnout, mostly overlooked by the press, should be a main question after the Jan. 21 South Carolina Republican primary. Turnout until now has been poor. Instead of attracting voters, the presidential candidates have been repelling them.

For a long time now, Senate and House Republicans have said their main goal is to defeat Barack Obama, and they have certainly behaved as though all else is secondary. Any lack of interest among the GOP rank and file would greatly threaten that.

In the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican caucuses there was a total of 121,914 votes. That is a tad higher than the 118,411 four years earlier, but the caucuses back then were on a frigid, 4-degree night. This year the weather was an almost balmy 35 degrees – conducive to a high turnout, had the enthusiasm been there. In fact, fewer than 20 percent of registered Republicans showed up for the 2012 caucuses, and that figure itself is inflated, since it inludes a small number of Democrats and independents who crossed over to take part.

In the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, according to the secretary of state’s office there, total voting inched up infinitesimally, by less than half of one percent above 2008. But, with no Democratic presidential primary this year, there was a surge of independent crossover voters in New Hampshire, and the actual GOP turnout was down substantially, by about 17 percent. (The arithmetic: In 2008, 241,000 people voted and exit polls showed that 37 percent were independent crossovers. This year, 247,000 voted and 49 percent were independents, according to the exit polls.)

The GOP field of candidates has been widely criticized – not just by Democrats but by themselves and their supporters. If the rank and file continue to stay home, the threat is not just that Obama will win again but that the Democrats will keep the Senate and perhaps retake the House.

On the other hand, Republican politicians and their Wall Street, corporate allies, liberated by the Citizens United ruling, have wads of money – unlimited amounts – for the 2012 campaign to oust Obama and use against the Democrats. But that’s getting ahead of the story. First, let’s see what happens in South Carolina and in Florida ten days later. Not just who wins, but how many folks turn out.

Posted by taikan
01/19/2012, 08:29 PM

Low voter turnout in the Republican primaries, if indeed that is the case, does not necessarily mean that there will be low turnout of Republicans in the general election.

Many voters go to the polls in order to vote "for" the candidate(s) of their choice. However, others go to the polls to vote "against" a candidate by voting for his/her opponent, almost without regard for the qualifications (or lack thereof) of the opponent. Thus, there may be many Republicans who haven't (or won't) bother to vote in the primaries because they don't strongly support or strongly dislike one or the other of the current crop of candidates. Nevertheless, with or without the prodding from Super PACs made possible by the Citizens United ruling, those Republicans are likely to turn out to vote "against" Obama by voting for the Republican nominee, even if they don't particularly support him.

Posted by ACitizen
01/21/2012, 02:57 PM

Lots of things going on in the Republican Party. Total control by one faction, no message but hate, republicans that can not even stand other republicans. Bad juju there.
Besides all that I don't think the RNC will be sad if Obama gets to take the blame for another four years.

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