Thursday, June 29, 2006

Primary Turnout

There has been much said about the moving of the primary from September, which is a bad time to have a primary, to August, which is presumably worse. The reason for the change was to give candidates more time to gather funds and support for the general election in November. Critics have blasted the change, saying that an August primary will draw significantly smaller turnout than a September one, and make life easier for incumbents.

Unfortunately, the historical record doesn't back this up.

In 1970, Connecticut held its first statewide primary. Both Democrats and Republicans held primaries that year, for Senator and Govenor respectively. Interestingly, it was held in August. In 1978, Gov. Ella Grasso faced a bitter primary challenger from her Lt. Gov., Robert Killian. That primary was held in September.

Other September gubernatorial primaries occurred in 1986 and 1990. In 1986, Julie Belaga won the Republican nomination (only to be crushed by William O’Neill); in 1990 Bruce Morrison defeated William Cibes for the Democratic nomination; and in 1994 both parties held primaries, which ended up in John Rowland and Bill Curry facing one another for the first time.

Here are the turnout figures for various statewide races, gathered from newspaper reports:

1970 GOP Governor (August): 33%
1970 Dem Senate (August): 38%

1978 Dem Governor (September): 32% (approx.)

1986 GOP Governor (September): 22%

1990 Dem Governor (September): 20%

1994 Dem Governor (September): 24%
1994 GOP Governor (September): 25%

These figures reflect the percentage of voters registered in the party holding the primary who actually voted in the election. As you can see, the shift from August (1970) to September (1978) didn't really affect turnout for the gubernatorial primary. From 1978 to 1994, there was a significant drop in turnout.

The data here suggests that voters who are willing to turn out for a primary probably don’t care what month it’s being held in. In the 1970s, the percentage of primary voters was in the mid 30s. In the 1990s, that number dropped into the 20s.

It also suggests, although nowhere near as conclusively, that there may be slightly more interest in a U.S. Senate race than in a governor’s race, especially when big issues are at stake. The 1970 primary, like the 2006 primary, was largely about huge issues of war and peace, and attracted a large turnout. Turnout may also be affected by the belief that the party in question can actually win the November election. Turnout for Belaga was low because no one gave the Republicans much of a chance in 1986. In 1994, it seemed like anyone could win.

Given this, it’s possible to guess at what turnout will be on August 8th. Somewhere around 28% of registered Democrats seems reasonable. The race will generate more interest for Democrats than Curry-Larson, and certainly more interest than Morrison-Cibes, which was a foregone conclusion. It’s also probable that the turnout for the upcoming primary will be increased by at least 5%, maybe more, because of the Senate battle. If it were just Malloy and DeStefano, turnout would be in the low 20s. If that.

The conclusion here is that a lot of factors influence primary votes. But a shift from September to August probably isn’t one of them.

Sources

Noel, Don. “Politics: A New National Pastime?” Hartford Courant 19 September, 1994. p. A11.

Treaster, Joseph. “Weicker, Meskill Win in Primaries.” New York Times 13 August, 1970. p.1.

Merry, George. “How Primary Votes Went in New England.” Christian Science Monitor. 14 September, 1978. p.6

46 comments:

BRubenstein said...

GC...you know i posted numbers in a recent posting that suggests a probable 35% turnout...there will be a double primary on AUgust 8th ( unless Lieberman bolts) and i think my numbers for the Dems is on solid footing...what do you think?

Genghis Conn said...

I think 35% is a little optimistic. In 1970, the only year we really have for comparison, turnout for the Senate race was only 5% higher than for the governor's race (primaries held for different parties on different days). So take that 24% and add 5% to it--you get 29%. I don't see an increase of 10% over 1994. The interest just isn't there.

Genghis Conn said...

I think 35% is a little optimistic. In 1970, the only year we really have for comparison, turnout for the Senate race was only 5% higher than for the governor's race (primaries held for different parties on different days). So take that 24% and add 5% to it--you get 29%. I don't see an increase of 10% over 1994. The interest just isn't there.

bluecoat said...

Jodi joins JDS and DM in suggesting Mario Testa's DTC decide Fabrizi's fate in the front page of today's CT Post
andFormer state legislator Alan Schlesinger said he is hoping for a three-way race for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Ned Lamont and incumbent Joseph Lieberman because he expects Lamont to win the Democratic primary. In a three-way race, Schlesinger said he needs only 37 percent of the vote to win.it sayshere in the Courant story on the Prescott Bush dinner

BRubenstein said...

GC...well...we shall see..you are at 29% and i am at 35%..as you know the double primary senate figure in 1970 was closer to my number then yours...and the war factors in this year as well.

bluecoat said...

BR: the war in Iraq has been over for a while but on the issue of stopping future terror attacks and bringing past terrorists to justice the Jun 29, 11:20 AM EDT Supreme Court Blocks Bush, Gitmo War Trials so back to the drawing board on the justice side I guess...

BRubenstein said...

Bluecaot...you said "the war is over for awhile"?..what about the daily US deaths and the rampant fighting still going on...surely you arent serious in that comment..

I think i dont need to go back to the drawing board as the polls indicate a huge anti-war turnout...for Lamont based on past and CURRENT fighting and dying there plus the failed occupation and exit strategy of the Bush/Lieberman crowd.

bluecoat said...

Yes BR I absolutely am because a war was waged against the govt. of Iraq and the US captured its leader Saddamm Hussein and brought him to justice (even if it is the wrong justice since he should have been tried at the Hague) and he should have been required to surrender unconditionally BTW but Bush blew it. Since the war has been over, we have been to install a new govt...Now we are building a nation and the violence and casualties to our military an Iraqi's inhabitants are worse than during the war....

bluecoat said...

and by "back to the drawing board" I was referring to Bush and the military tribunals - he probably needs to ask Congress to set up the laws from what I read quickly of the Supreme's decision...

Gio said...

I am going with 22%, mid August, negative campaign will turn off voters (and help Ned), useless primary for Gov (Rell is going to walk away with this), are the Repubs even having a primary, anti-war feelings or whatever BR keeps on mentioning--just don't seem to be agitating the public enough to get them to vote.

So there you have it, my useless prediction!!!

BRubenstein said...

Gio...your prediction isnt useless..and your Republican candidate is against the war as well and has publically stated that we should withdraw troops next year...

GMR said...

If Lieberman loses the primary and runs in the general election as an independent, it is going to be very interesting to see what the national Democrats do: the DSCC and the individual Senators in Washington. Whom will they support?

If turnout is less than 25%, they will of course say that the turnout was low and that the vote doesn't reflect the true wishes of the Connecticut voter, and that Lieberman is favored in a three-way race.

If turnout is higher than 30%, then the national Democrats who are backing Joe Lieberman are going to have to tacitly admit that the Democrat party primary voter is out of touch with the mainstream.

I think that most Lamont supporters are going to show up to vote in this primary. Lieberman's support doesn't seem to be as passioned.

Are there certain areas of the state that are more likely to be for Lieberman or for Lamont? Will the governor's race pull any others into the primary?

bluecoat said...

former Guiliani partner and Bush nominee for Secretary of Homeland SecurityKerik Described as Close to Deal on a Guilty Plea and Mr. Kerik, who withdrew from Mr. Giuliani's consulting firm in the days after his failed Homeland Security nomination, has been doing security consulting work in Jordan. He was expected to return to the United States last night.

Genghis Conn said...

Support for Lamont at the convention seemed to be coming from everywhere. I don't think that you can necessarily find a specific area of the state where Lamont or Lieberman will be stronger than any others.

It will be a fun one to map. And oh, yes. It will be mapped.

BRubenstein said...

Bluecoat..Since we invaded Iraq under false premises an argument can be made that our "takeover" is illegal and that the imposition of Iraq leadership is as well and thus technically the war isnt over..its a view i hold.

bluecoat said...

BR: then it never was a war...and maybe that is the case...so how can it ever be over???

BRubenstein said...

GC...you are incorrect about Lamont's support.His support is most certainly traceable. His support will be strongest in those towns where he got the delegates...also in towns where he has the support of the mayor,1st selectperson and town chair as well, plus the thousands that signed his petitions,gave him money and registered to help.He also will concentrate on those "high performing" towns where he has support. "High-performing" means the dem vote comes out higher then average for a candidate.

You are right in that Lamont's objective support is throughout the state and accross the board.You can't trace his support by CD but you can by town.

Gio said...

Schlesinger--phhhhh--he ain't going anywhere. Most Repubs will be voting for good ole Joe in the general. It's too bad R's don't have a better candidate...Rell would be great, but that ain't happening. Anyways, anyone that sucks face with W is good in my book.

bluecoat said...

BR: I am looking at this from the perspective of the military who fights wars and follows lawful orders....as far as they are concerned they were given a lawful order to invade and depose the govt...after that the Iraqis would wave flags, sell oil and be happy...it's a freaking mess...

BRubenstein said...

Bluecoat..there is a war..an illegal one that is still going on right now...the Iraq leadership helped into power by Bush act as agents for us in this illegal war..and are just as culpable by international law.

The War would be over when we withdraw and the present leadership of Iraq resigns..or there is a finding in either the U.N. or the World Court declaring the war over.

And..i highly doubt any of those scenario's will happen anytime soon.

My prediction is that at some point in the future we will withdraw from Iraq..and subsequent to that the radicals will be successful in bringing down the Iraq government that was put into power indirectly by Bush and the country will be thrust into a theocracy and be broken into a few pieces...each piece will be controled by different Muslem sects..Sunni..SHite and Kurd...

In the end Howard Dean who predicted this will be proven right.

bluecoat said...

Your legal view on international law may very well be right...I am trying to frame it in terms of our military in hopes that people who supported the invasion will see the issue today as building a nation rather than war while you legal begals, who the Bush administration has no time for, do your thing...

Gio said...

Start a war thread, this was turnout thread.

bluecoat said...

BR: I also see the "war on terror" as a media thing much like the past "war on crime", "war on drugs" and "war on poverty" to name a few. First and foremost, the US needs to bring the criminal element that brought about the deaths of 911 to a crashing stop and to justice, American justice...the military effort in Afghanistan (as large as it is) is assisting in that effort as the lead agency is the DOJ/FBI. the military has assisited in law enforcement efforts forever jus t as the CIA did; unfortunatley Kerry couldn't articulate this above all the Rove spin but it needs to be articulated....turnout for the Democrats is about this stuff there Gio...

BRubenstein said...

Bluecoat...Gio said "anyone who sucks face is good with her..."

Her riling up you and i may mean she has a crush on us...im saving my pennies as these Republican women are expensive and high maintence.

Derby Conservative said...

This is off topic and I hate to be a pain in the ass, but why are the candidates listed on the right listed in the order Dems, Greens, GOP's? It appears to be alphbetically by party, but shouldn't the real parties get top billing and put the wannabe's below? Perhaps you should list the incumbant, then the other major party candidate(s) and then the greens, etc. Or perhaps you should list them as they will be listed on the ballots...GOP 1st, Dems 2nd, then all others.

Like I said, I hate to be a pain in the ass...

bluecoat said...

BR:I don't do on-line dating even if it is over a high class site like CLP - and I know what you mean about the women of the GOP being high maintnenance...LMAO

bluecoat said...

DC: I think if you look again they are not in the order you suggest; for Cathy Cook...

Genghis Conn said...

DC, it's alphabetical.

bluecoat said...

not for the SOTS race by my alphabet, GC....

Chris MC said...

This just in:
Baggage-Handling Mix-Up Sends Dirty Bomb To St. Louis

Excerpt:
NEW YORK—Even in the air-conditioned confines of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport back on June 14, Abu Basir Yousef was sweating.
His sole piece of luggage—a black duffel bag—was lost upon his arrival in New York.
[...]
Airline personnel had searched the plane, the tarmac, and the gate, but were still unable to locate his bag containing his homemade dirty bomb.
"My trip was ruined," Yousef said. "But Allah will right this wrong."


I'm just sayin'...

Genghis Conn said...

Oops. Fixed, bluecoat.

Gio said...

Sorry BR--Like all good Repubs I prefer my women pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen---I'm doubting you can qualify.

bluecoat said...

I don't find the humor that is puported to be in the article...it's tasteless..

BRubenstein said...

Gio..i thought you were feamle...my apologies here..

Chris MC said...

Damn that Barack Obama!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats Wednesday for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people" and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans.

I'm just sayin'...

BRubenstein said...

Chris, this will make you happy im sure...ive checked around and to date the unions haven't done much for JDS other then delegates voting for him..some checks and news articles...

the unions have a month left to turn up the heat and work hard...they need to provide more money...house parties...phone banks...provide volunteers...each union do a small fundraiser among their members...and send a letter to their members urging they vote for JDS..and amalgamate themselves into the field ops of JDS for the 8/8/06 primary...I dont see how all of the above wil get done in time...I asked a key JDS labor operative and he didnt know how many "labor house parties" have been done so far.If they dont get off their ass in time i will re-vamp my figures at a later date.

CC said...

Do any of the figures from the main post come from an INCUMBENT primary?

BrassBoy said...

Hold on, hold on, hold on... did I hear earlier, all in one post, references to "an illegal war", U.N. and World Court findings and Howard Dean being proven correct?

BR, I gotta say, right or wrong (and I think we all know what my opinion is) your posts are strangely mesmerizing. Like looking into an alternate universe.

I just... can't... look... away...

turfgrrl said...

In the foodchain hierarchy of voting behavior, presidential is the top tunrout as a percentage. The last presidential heated primary we had link had 177,301 Democrats voting. This primary won't exceed that one, roughly a 26% turnout. Low 20's seems about right.

CTOctaneBlue said...

Chris- Hilarious article. I found it especially apropos, as I had the pleasure of dealing with JFK passport control and customs for the better part of 3 hours this very afternoon!

Still, my favorite article from the onion has to be "Barry Bonds Used Steroids - Reports Anyone Who Has Ever Watched Baseball". Classic.

Chris MC said...

Bruce -

Yeah, but will you acknowledge that my grassroots status didn't prevent me from providing the straight dope on the situation? That'd impress me some.

Even the Union guys that are getting to work for JDS tell me that they don't have a beef with Malloy. They definitely aren't out to hurt him; and a lot of Union guys think he is the better candidate against Rell. Which he is.

Chris MC said...

CTO -

The Onion is first rate. Read that and watch the Daily Show and Colbert - that's all you need. ;-)

HealthcareNOW said...

Chris MC:

I want to know exactly how many union guys you talked to, because "a lot" is a big claim.

Did you track down "a lot" of union people at the AFL-CIO Convention for their opinion? Did you conduct a Chris MC Poll and call union households with your meticulous methodology? What's the margin of error?

I think from my time reading this blog you've never said a single thing that has strayed from the standard "everything is in Malloy's favor" routine.

So seriously, how many union guys did you talk to? Did they all say to you: "Oh I don't hate Dan Malloy, and I think he's the one that can beat Rell." I doubt it.

Look at the facts buddy: 11 points down, no convention bounce, no major labor support, and your candidates' not hitting any of the big progressive issues hard enough. Not to mention it's almost July and he's not up on the airwaves yet. Your opponent has defined himself as a universal healthcare candidate with progressive ideas and a working-class background. Your candidate's got nothing so far. The fact that he's a DLC moderate on the same line as Joe Lieberman doesn't help him either. That's a lot of sobering barriers to what you claim day in and day out.

I once vowed to give up posting because I couldn't stand some of the comments posted here. But you draw me back. It's like watching Ann Coulter on FOX, it pisses you off so much but you can't turn off the TV.

Chris MC said...

HealthcareNow, I must say I am truly gratified by your discomfort, and will sleep well tonight knowing that I have contributed to it.

I want to know exactly how many union guys you talked to, because "a lot" is a big claim.

The precise number is 27. 27 union guys. Or maybe it was 39. I don't take notes. Not all guys, but you get the drift. And they talk to me because they know I won't talk out of school. Nice, huh? And I know they ain't telling you anything either. [chuckle]

Anyhow, not one has a serious beef with your next Governor, Dan Malloy. And more than half acknowledged or volunteered that they thought Malloy has the best chance of beating Rell. Did I mention Malloy is a bona fide son of a labor organizer?.

I think from my time reading this blog you've never said a single thing that has strayed from the standard "everything is in Malloy's favor" routine.

Thank you for noticing, I hate to blow my own horn.

But may I say that I preferred your earlier formulation: You breath Malloy talking points. That was so good, I've been using it myself. Hope you don't mind.

But hey, don't let that get in the way of your rant.

Bruce, why don't you demand that this joker reveal his true identity? Or sue him! That'd be fun.

BRubenstein said...

chris chri chris...healthcare raise some good points..why havent you answered him?

BRubenstein said...

Turfgrrl..you are way way off..the presidential turnout was losw because by the time of the primary Kerry was the obvious frontrunner and there was no real contest.

Here..we have a contest with no obvious frontrunner...