It All Comes Down to Turnout: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, “Huge Spikes In Democrat Voter Turnout Across The Country Should Alarm The GOP,” which surprised me a little because the site does not do much of what is basically data journalism.

These two grafs should give you the overall flavor:

“The 2018 primary turnout numbers should alarm the GOP when compared with recent midterm “wave” elections. Before the 2006 blue wave, Democrats received 54 percent of 24.4 million primary votes. Before the 2010 red wave, Republicans won 56 percent of 28.5 million primary votes. In 2014, the GOP got 55 percent of a lower 23.9 million primary votes.

In 2018, even before the New York primary, Democrats won approximately 53 percent percent of an astounding 35.7 million primary votes. The Democrats have swung to a near 2006-level primary edge amid a 47 percent increase in overall turnout.”

What got left out? Mostly things that went — or would have gone — up front. In the late 20th century, primary turnout wasn’t all that predictive of general election turnout, opening room to hypothesize why it seems to have become more predictive, e.g., polarization and sorting of the voter pool. And more on the sorts of things that may now be embedded in the notion of “competitive” races, i.e., what drives retirements, politicians leaving seats for administration jobs, sheer partisan passion, etc. It just made sense to get to the grafs just quoted quickly to try to hold the reader’s attention.

On the back side, I could have discussed more states, even though most of the undiscussed results were less interesting. The main difficulty in writing this sort of piece, however helpful or necessary, is that they can wind up reading like the weather report, but without animated graphics. This was another reason to get to the scare grafs ASAP.

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