The Democrats celebrated a “turnout surge” after Super Tuesday, noting that, in many states, interest was “significantly higher” than in previous years — in some cases, more than a hundred thousand more votes were cast on Super Tuesday 2020 than on Super Tuesday 2016.
Republican turnout, however, dwarfed Democratic turnout in a number of Super Tuesday states, even though President Donald Trump is running largely unopposed. Former Trump supporter, talk show host Joe Walsh, dropped out of the race several weeks ago, and former Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld, Trump’s only remaining primary challenger, has netted an average of 2% of the vote in most of the early contests.
The trend began in New Hampshire, where Trump received 129,000 votes — more than both former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama received for their re-election. It continued through Super Tuesday, with Republicans putting up massive numbers in places like Tennessee and North Carolina.
In places like Texas, Republicans in 2020 cast twice as many votes for Trump as Democrats in 2016 cast for Obama.
Trump 2020 vs. Obama 2012 primary results:
NH: 129,696 / 49,080
OK: 273,562 / 64,389
MA: 207,495 / 127,909
TN: 324,119 / 80,705
VT: 33,863 / 40,247
AL: 690,381 / 241,167
TX: 1,584,661 / 520,410 (w/ 66% in)
NC: 704,328 / 766,077 (w/ 69% in)#SuperTuesday
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) March 4, 2020
In Texas, Trump got more votes in the 2020 primary than all of the 2020 Democratic candidates combined.
“All 2020 Dem candidates COMBINED in Texas have 1,621,621 votes with 82% of the vote reported,” one supporter tweeted late Tuesday night. “President Trump as an incumbent in an UNCONTESTED primary has 1,742,750 votes with 82% of the vote reported.”
Of course, Trump is predicted to win Texas in the general election, as well as other states where turnout for the Republican primary exceeded that of the Democratic primary. But as the final vote totals roll in, it seems Trump put up big numbers in a many blue states as well.
“In Vermont and Minnesota, Trump’s vote totals beat every past incumbent’s total in the last four decades. In Maine, the president’s vote total bested every primary candidate’s total since before President Ronald Reagan. In Massachusetts, the story was similar, with Trump aggregating a higher vote total than past incumbent Republicans since before Reagan,” a Trump surrogate boasted to The Hill. “And in deeply blue California, with 82 percent of precincts reporting, President Trump collected nearly 1.4 million votes.”
Part of that has to do with Trump’s appeal and part of it has to do with the Trump campaign, which has been stressing “early” voting among its ardent supporters as a show of Trump’s political strength.
“The massive turnout is a reflection of organic enthusiasm among conservatives and a sophisticated effort by Trump’s campaign to rev up its get-out-the-vote machine ahead of the general election,” Politico reported on Thursday. “Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire ahead of voting, and the campaign flooded the two states with high-profile surrogates and launched a Facebook advertising blitz reminding supporters to cast ballots.”
Experts looking to explain the phenomenon cite renewed enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle, but there’s at least one caveat for Democrats that doesn’t apply to Trump. As one expert explained in the left-leaning outlet Slate, “[u]ltimately, there’s just not enough data to know if there’s a real relationship between primary and general election turnout.”
Trump can comfortably say the enthusiasm expressed by Republicans voting in the primary portends enthusiasm in the general. That’s just not true for former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).