Wednesday, March 21, 2012

(Sorry, Pundits) GOP Primary Turnout Slightly Increased in Illinois

Do yourself a favor and don't watch cable news on a primary election night. Well, don't listen to cable news on a primary election night, anyway. It seemed to me that every twenty minutes or so a panelist would mention that turnout in Illinois was down compared to 2008, the implication being that Illinois Republican primary voters aren't "enthusiastic" about their choices for the nomination (and their frontrunner).

The first part of this observation is technically true: primary turnout indeed was lower in 2012 than it was in 2008. The reason for this was that in Illinois there were two major-party contests for president in 2008 and only one this year. One of those major-party contests happened to have a local politician running as well. Perhaps you remember that.

So, let's look at the numbers:

In the 2008 Illinois Republican Primary, 899,422 votes were cast for the presidential nomination.

In the 2012 Illinois Republican Primary, 922,146 votes were cast for the presidential nomination. 2012 Illinois Republican Primary turnout was 103% of what it was in 2008. Turnout slightly increased.

GOP turnout wasn't down in Metropolitan Chicago either. In 2008, GOP primary turnout in Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties was 496,014. In 2012 for those counties, GOP turnout was 509,785. 2012 GOP turnout in the Chicago area was ... wait for it ... 103% of what it was in 2008. So, both in "Chicagoland" and "Downstate," GOP turnout was slightly up, and up rather evenly throughout the state.

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