Romney Wins, but Turnout Lags
In the first three early-voting states, Republican turnout was up from 2008 — just slightly in Iowa and New Hampshire, but significantly in South Carolina, where it jumped by 35 percent.
The pattern did not hold in Florida on Tuesday. With nearly all of the votes counted, Republican turnout is about 1.7 million. By comparison, just under 2 million Republicans voted in Republican primary there in 2008.
Part of the reason for the difference may be that a ballot measure, the Florida Save Our Homes Amendment, was on the primary ballot in 2008 and could have encouraged turnout even among voters who were not interested in presidential politics. In addition, the Republican race in Florida was closer in 2008 than in 2012, which usually improves turnout at the margins.
Still, this is not a great result for Republicans — especially after their tremendous success in 2010, a cycle during which Republican turnout was extremely high and contributed to the party’s 63-seat gain in the House of Representatives.
And the results are somewhat worse for the G.O.P. if you look turnout only among voters who identified as Republican in exit polls in the early-voting states. This is arguably the more relevant comparison because Democrats do not have a competitive nomination race this year, freeing up voters who might have voted in the Democratic primary to vote in the Republican one instead.
(Self-identifying as Republican is not the same thing as being registered as one. In Iowa, for instance, participants in the caucuses must be registered as Republicans, but they can change their registration at the caucus site — becoming, in essence, Republicans for a day.)
Among Republican identifiers, turnout was down by 11 percent in Iowa, by 15 percent in New Hampshire and by 16 percent in Florida. It is also down by 10 percent overall through the first four voting states.
The clear exception was South Carolina, where turnout among Republican identifiers rose by 20 percent.
South Carolina, of course, was the strongest state for Newt Gingrich. In contrast, turnout among Republican identifiers was down for Mr. Romney’s two victories so far,
You can read the rest of this article at:: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/romney-wins-but-turnout-lags/
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