Primary Popular Vote Totals
Matthew Shugart tallies up the popular vote totals from both parties’ primaries and notes that “Obama is closing in on a majority of the popular vote” while “McCain has yet to crack 40% of Republicans.”
While I don’t think there’s any doubt that Obama is more popular among Democrats than McCain is among Republicans, there’s not much to be drawn from that comparison. The Democratic race coalesced around two serious candidates early and neither broke from the pack. The third place candidate, John Edwards, got less than three percent of the vote. By contrast, the Republicans had three candidates who have won primaries and their fourth place candidate, Ron Paul, drew a more substantial number than did Edwards.
The other anomaly, that “Since Romney dropped out, Huckabee’s vote percentage has grown more than McCain’s,” really isn’t that hard to explain. McCain all but mathematically sewed up the nomination when Romney withdrew, so there’s not exactly a lot of incentive for his supporters to turn out. Huckabee, by contrast, appeals to an angry subset of the nominating electorate eager to send a “message.”
Generally speaking, trying to draw much meaning from popular vote percentages in different elections strikes me as, so to speak, fruitless.[*] Republicans who continue to chime on about how “Bill Clinton never won a majority!” while failing to note that Ross Perot won a significant percentage of the vote in both 1992 and 1996 may derive some small comfort but they’re not making a particularly interesting point.
via Steven Taylor
*UPDATE: Shugart explains in the comments that this isn’t what he was trying to do. Rather, this was one of a series of posts examining the differences of the Democrats’ predominantly proportional system vice the Republican’s winner-take-all predominant system.