Colorado Primary Shows Evidence Of Enthusiasm Gap

The results of last night's Colorado Senate primaries should be causing Democrats to worry.

Sam Stein at The Huffington Post takes a look at some numbers that should cause Democrats to worry, a lot:

For all the chatter about the White House’s ability to get out the vote in Colorado’s Tuesday night primary, the election produced one statistic that could leave Democrats unsettled.

The losing candidate in the Republican race, former Lt. Gov Jane Norton, actually earned more votes (197,143) than the winning candidate in the Democratic primary, Sen. Michael Bennet (183,521).

A voting breakdown like that is troubling enough for the party. That it occurred in Colorado — a state targeted by the Obama presidential campaign and turned into a potential Democratic stronghold in 2008 — makes it slightly more frightening. When the loser in the Kentucky Democratic primary, Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo, received more votes (221,269) than the winner of the Republican primary, Rand Paul (206,159 votes), it was routinely highlighted by party officials as a sign of viability in the bluegrass state.

Party officials refused, on Wednesday, to downplay Bennet’s win because of the aggregate voting trends.

The difference, of course, is that Democratic registration in Kentucky is far higher than Republican registration, even though the state has a habit of electing Republicans in statewide national elections. That, combined with the fact that the Kentucky primary is closed to independent voters, means that it wasn’t surprising that there was a difference between turnout in the two races.

Colorado is different. It’s a marginal state that has gone for both Republicans and Democrats in important elections. The fact that Republicans are more energized there is something that ought to have Democrats nationwide worried, especially since this enthusiasm gap appears to be a nationwide phenomenon:


If this trend continues into late October, especially in places like Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, then it’s likely to be a bad night for the Democrats on November 2nd.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mr. Prosser says:

    I think the low turnout by the Dems was because no matter who won the Dem primary the winner would be satisfactory to the voters. The Republican winner (Buck) and others down the line were put in by the heavy turnout of the ultras in the party. CO is pretty independent and the ultras aren’t going to fare well in November.

  2. Herb says:

    “If this trend continues into late October, especially in places like Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, then it’s likely to be a bad night for the Democrats on November 2nd.”

    I don’t know about FL, IL, or OH, but calling CO for the Republicans one day after primary night is….premature.

    Maes can’t beat Hickenlooper, and he certainly can’t beat Hickenlooper and Tom Tancredo at the same time. Score the governorship to the Dems. (PS. All my right-leaning friends and family can’t wait to vote for Tancredo.

    Buck-Bennett is a bit harder to call. If Buck “bucks” to the center like he has been, he might have a shot. But if he sucks up to the Tea Party types, he’s doomed.

  3. Pug says:

    I don’t think anyone will be very surprised if November 2nd turns out to be a rotten night for the Democrats.

  4. just me says:

    I am not sure you can argue that lower democratic turnout for the primary means lower democratic turn out for the general.  I think the numbers may be reason for the democrats to make sure they put forth a strong get out the vote effort, but I think a lot of voters are often apathetic about the primary and only really start to care when the general approaches.
     

  5. Herb says:

    “I think a lot of voters are often apathetic about the primary and only really start to care when the general approaches.”

    I suspect that many of the folks who will end up voting for the Democrat can’t even vote in the primary. That’s my situation.

  6. Wayne says:

    I am not willing to put much into such a quick and limited number analyses. Total number and comparison to past primaries and resulting general election turnout would be much more relevant.
     
    That said voter groups’ enthusiasm and party turnout has always been very important. IMO it is more important than slicing off a few votes in middle here and there.
    At the moment it looks like the Republicans have a significant advantage. IMO that is why many of the leftist groups are distancing themselves from the Democrats for the moment. That way if the Dems loose big in November they can say it was because they ran away from their base and voters didn’t show up. Therefore if they want to win in 2012 then they need to pander even further to the left.  I am not sure how many will believe that spin but that is my prediction.