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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    GOP primary turnout lower in eight states

    Mar 08, 2012

    GOP primary turnout lower in eight states

    By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY Updated 38m ago

    Voter turnout in eight of the 13 states to hold GOP presidential primaries so far is lower than in 2008, in a sign that Republicans could be facing an enthusiasm gap.

    The findings come from a report released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

    Overall, voter turnout so far is 11.5% of the 68.1 million citizens eligible to vote in the 13 states. That's a drop from a 13.2% voter turnout rate in the same states four years ago.

    Five states -- New Hampshire, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan and Vermont -- have had higher voter turnout in their GOP primaries than in 2008. In all of those states, independents or independent and Democratic voters were allowed to participate.

    It's understandable why Virginia and Missouri -- which had voter turnouts of 4.6% and 5.6%, respectively -- had big decreases compared with 2008. The Missouri primary on Feb. 7 didn't factor into the race for delegates and was considered a "beauty contest." And Mitt Romney and Ron Paul were the only GOP candidates to qualify for the Virginia ballot on Super Tuesday.

    Republicans agree that they want to defeat President Obama in the fall, but they've had a hard time settling on the candidate who can best accomplish their goal. The GOP race has been one of the most volatile ever, producing several different front-runners over the past year.

    Romney, who currently leads the GOP field in delegates and state wins, said yesterday that he believes the Republican Party will unite behind the eventual nominee.

    In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released last week, 53% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP say they are "more enthusiastic than usual" about voting in the election. That compares to 45% of Democrats and independents who learn toward the Democratic Party.

    But the voter enthusiasm among Republicans this year isn't nearly as high as it was for Democrats in 2008 during the primary fight between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. At that time, nearly 8 in 10 Democrats and independents who leaned that way said they were enthusiastic about voting.

    While GOP primary turnout doesn't necessarily portend what could happen in the general election, the voter turnout report is a warning sign.

    "The divisions within the party, the lack of enthusiasm with the primary candidates by large elements of the party and the comparatively low turnout may signal a turnout decline in this year's general election," the report said.

    GOP primary turnout lower in eight states

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