Wednesday, February 06, 2008

By The Numbers

The most under-reported - or perhaps it is better to say unreported - story of this primary season is the disparity in voter turnout by party. Crooks & Liars still has this handy-dandy little chart up from last night, and you can click through and get all sorts of little factoids out of it. For example, in my state of IL, Hillary Clinton received 643,352 votes in her loss to home-state Senator Obama. By contrast, the total number of Republican voter was 643,352. Sen. Obama received more votes than the total number of Republican voters in their primary. Indeed, about 1,000,000 more Democrats voted than Republicans in IL. Let that sink in while we peruse some other numbers.

In OK, a pretty red state (OK, I used the phrase, for what I hope is the last time), the numbers were closer, but the Democrats still got out more voters by about 60,000 (something like 9% of the total of the combined two-party voting totals). In his loss, Obama still received 7,000 more votes than McCain, who won OK.

California presents an even more disparate picture. The Democrats turned out 55.7% more voters. Think for a moment. Half again as many Democrats as Republicans voted in California. The vote totals for the top two Republican candidates was 1,707,538. Obama received 1,680,331 votes. In other words, the two top Republican candidates received only 27,000 more votes combined than the second-place Democratic contender received on his own.

This is not an across-the-board phenomenon. Alabama had a bigger Republican turn-out than the Democrats. Other states were closer. Interestingly (at least to me), Massachusetts had a two-to-one disparity in voter turnout favoring Democrats, even though a relatively successful former governor of that state was on the Republican ballot.

One can argue that the results I am presenting here are skewed towards the Democratic Party. After all, with the exception of OK, I am looking at states that are far more favorable to Democrats than Republicans anyway. These states have large urban centers that will skew the numbers even more. These are arguable points, and as I am using only the chart at C&L, rather than a more detailed - by county or even precinct - voter map, I have no way gaging how correct the counter-arguments are.

All the same, I think it important that I chose NY, IL, and CA very deliberately because they were the biggest prizes in last night's primaries, and (with TX), are among the biggest, and most necessary, states to win come November. With Democratic turnout this high, that tells me that Democratic voters are far more excited about the upcoming election than Republicans. While Republican voters (as opposed to self-appointed Republican spokes-folks like Limbaugh, Hannity, and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named [Alan]) seem resigned to a McCain candidacy, they aren't excited at the prospect. Democrats, however, seem to know this is their year. With Edwards turning the intra-party discussion leftwards, and Obama providing thematic material, even a Hillary candidacy will be better than it might otherwise have been.

On a totally unrelated note, may I just add that we are living through the biggest winter storm I personally have experienced since a three-day extravaganza in DC in January, 1996. In that one, on a Sunday in early January, I walked from my room at Wesley Theological Seminary, where I stayed as I attended classes a CUA, to a small market about a mile north on Massachusetts Ave, NW to get a Sunday Post. There were moments, and more than moments, when I wondered if I would actually live to make it home. There was about a foot of snow, the wind was tremendous, the snowfall nearly blinding, and I had exhausted myself just getting to where I had planned to go. Coming home I put one foot in front of the other, wondering when I would just give up and collapse in a heap in the snow. Not one of my brighter moments, I'll grant you. Today, I shall sit in my warm house and watch the snow fall, and my St. Bernard romp occasionally as he has to go out and do his business.

How's this post-Super Tuesday weather where you live?

Oh, and let me echo ER and ask prayers, and more substantive help, to the victims of tornadoes across AK, MS, KY, and TN yesterday. In the midst of all the blather over politics, we should remember that many people were simply trying to stay alive in the face of a nature that doesn't know of politics.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More