Tuesday, March 03, 2020


Here's a headline at Rolling Stone:

But as I told you on Sunday, Democratic turnout, while not particularly impressive in the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, was at a record level in the New Hampshire primary and at a near-record level in the South Carolina primary. Democrats may have a caucus turnout problem, but in primaries they're doing just what they need to do.

Does RS's Andy Kroll have evidence of a turnout shortfall that I didn't have when I wrote my Sunday post? No -- he just has vague intimations of doom:
“We’re not seeing the sort of eye-popping turnout numbers we’ve seen over the last couple of years we’ve seen since Trump became president,” says Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida who specializes in American elections....

One reason for that, he says, is that the 2020 Democratic primary doesn’t have the same history-making feel to it. Twelve years ago, Democrats had a clear choice between nominating the first African American candidate or the first woman candidate. The size of the field could also have a dampening effect as Democrats struggle to decide which candidate to support. “The historic nature isn’t there,” McDonald says.
Um ... numbers? Can we have some numbers?

Once again, here are the numbers:
For South Carolina, there was ... a near-record primary turnout.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, and the final 6 percent nearly finished with their tallies, South Carolina’s Election Commission has found 524,000 voters cast ballots in Saturday’s primary.

That total would appear to put the state on track to nearly match — or perhaps surpass — the turnout record set during Barack Obama’s first presidential race in 2008, when 532,000 voters participated....

In New Hampshire, a total of 300,622 ballots were cast, besting the previous record of 288,672 votes in 2008.
You've heard of stories that are "too good to check"? Well, journalists are so used to writing "Democrats are doomed" stories that this might be too bad to check.

It does appear that there's no uptick in young voters. Kroll writes:
There has not been a sizable influx of new voters; the youth vote — which smashed the record for midterm turnout in 2018 — surpassed 2008 levels in Iowa, says Rock the Vote president Carolyn DeWitt, but it tracked closely with 2016 levels in New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina.

“That’s a strong contrast with Obama’s turnout in 2008 where there was a huge swell of new voters who came out,” says Barry Burden, the University of Wisconsin political scientist. “The number of young voters is not up as a share of Democratic voters. If they want to see a really high turnout in November, they’re gonna need to turn out young voters in high numbers. At least in the primaries and caucuses, there hasn’t been so much of that.”

In the Nevada caucus, the Sanders campaign showed it could assemble a winning coalition of white working class, Hispanic, and young voters. But the campaign has also acknowledged that it hasn’t mobilized voters on the scale that it needs. “Do I think that there is room for growth,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a top Sanders surrogate told the New York Times, “and do I think that Senator Sanders would have liked the numbers to have been even further up among voters of color, among young voters, among working-class voters? Absolutely.”
Michelle Goldberg of the Times seconds that:
The primaries have yet to demonstrate that Sanders can generate the hugely expanded turnout his campaign is promising, though that could change when the Super Tuesday results come in. In New Hampshire, turnout increased most in the places that voted for Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

Dave Wasserman, an editor at The Cook Political Report, tweeted that most of the Democrats’ turnout bump was attributable to moderate Republicans “crossing over from ’16 G.O.P. primary — not heightened progressive/Sanders base enthusiasm.” South Carolina saw record turnout, but it benefited Biden, not Sanders.
Kroll writes for a publication that still regards itself as youth oriented. When he wrote that turnout is down, did he mean youth turnout? If so, he should have written that. What he did write simply isn't accurate.

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