Democrats have seen a 26 percent decrease in the number of voters and caucusgoers who have showed up to the polls this year compared to 2008, when the party last had a competitive primary race.
Interestingly enough, that steep decline is the inverse of the spike in Republican turnout this cycle compared to 2012, when Mitt Romney earned the party’s nomination.
Clinton routed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, winning 74 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 26 percent. While the huge margin of victory is good news for Clinton — polls had her winning, but more narrowly — the overall voter turnout must set off alarms for her campaign, as well as for the Democratic party. Whereas 532,000 South Carolina Democrats voted in 2008, only 367,000 showed up Saturday.
That’s a 31 percent decline.
Last week’s Nevada caucuses saw a similar fall. An estimated 120,000 caucusgoers showed up in 2008 compared to 80,000 this cycle — a 33 percent ding. Clinton bested Sanders in that contest as well.
The decrease in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primaries saw turnout fall as well, though the least of the four Democratic contests so far. In 2008, 288,672 Democrats voted. In 2016, 250,983 did so. That marks a 13 percent decline. Sanders won handily, taking 60 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 38 percent.
Just over 171,000 Iowa Democrats took part in the Feb. 1 caucuses. That’s 29 percent fewer than the estimated 240,000 who showed up in 2008.
All told, about 1.18 million Democrats across those first four states went to the polls in 2008. Just under 870,000 showed up this go-round.
That 26 percent slide mirrors the increase on the GOP side.
Just over 1 million showed up to the first four caucuses and primaries in 2012. This cycle, nearly 1.27 million Republicans have cast a vote.