Factors affecting Turnout in Primaries

  • Created by: Q_
  • Created on: 07-04-19 23:05

Factors affecting turnout in Primaries


  • Turnout varies not just between the states, but also between demographic groups. 
  • Stephen Wayne found that the better-educated, the higher-income and the older members of the electorate are younger are much more likely to vote in primaries than younger, less educated and poorer people. 
  • In the North Carolina Republican primary in 2016, over half of voters had a college degree, 1/3 earned more than 100,000 a year, and 3/4 of voters were 45 or older, with only 6% being aged 24 or younger. 
  • There is a widely held belief that primary voters are more ideologically extreme in their political beliefs than are general election voters. 
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Factors affecting turnout in Primaries

Type of Primary 

  • Open primaries, which allow any registered voter to vote in either primary, are likely to attract a higher turnout than closed primaries in which only self-identified party supporters can vote. 
  • Of the 11 states that held open primaries in the Republican contest in 2012, 10 saw an increase in turnout on 2008 with turnout is Wisconsin up 92% and in Mississipi up 105%.
  • On the other hand, of the 15 states which held closed primaries in the 2012 Republican contest, only 2 saw an icrease in turnout. In Conneticut turnout was down 61% and in New York it was down 71%. 
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Factors affecting turnout in Primaries

How competitive the nomination race is. 

  • In 2008 and 2016, when both parties had a competitive nomination race, turnout was very significantly hoigher than in 2004 and 2012, when only one party had a competitive race - neither John Kerry of the Democrats in 2004 nor Mitt Romney for the Republicans inspired a great deal of voter enthusiasm. 
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Factors affecting turnout in Primaries

Whether the nomination has been decided or not. 

  • Primaries scheduled early in the nomination calendar will be more likely to attract higher turnout than those coming towards the end of the cycle when the identity of the nominee is already known. 
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