Ten percent of the voters have spoken


President Biden and former president Donald Trump clinched their parties’ nominations for the White House on Tuesday after the voters spoke — about 10 percent of them, that is.
A Washington Post analysis found that only about 1 in 10 of voters nationwide who are eligible to vote in the general election participated in the primaries or caucuses that led to Biden and Trump winning the number of delegates required to secure their nominations Tuesday.
Turnout was low this year, even for primary nominating contests that typically attract fewer voters than general elections.
In 2016 and 2020, about 15 percent of eligible voters participated in the primaries and caucuses that took place in the same states that voted so far this year.
The percentage of eligible voters who participated in nominating contests this year through Tuesday will grow marginally as some states, including California, continue to count ballots, but is still expected to lag behind 2016 and 2020.
AdvertisementPart of what probably contributed to this year’s low voter turnout was that it seemed a “foregone conclusion” that Biden would be the Democratic nominee, and because polls showed Trump dominating the Republican field from early on in the primary cycle.
“That low turnout is dangerous,” said Deb Otis, research and policy director for FairVote, a nonpartisan group that pushes for ranked-choice voting as one way to engage more voters.
“This low turnout is not reflective of the entire country.”By Super Tuesday, only former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley remained as a major challenger to Trump in the GOP primary.
In addition, Trump has campaigned less frequently than in past cycles, and Biden has only recently started ramping up campaign-adjacent events.
“One of the strongest predictors of turnout is competition,” said Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who studies voter turnout.
“When you have a very competitive election, you’re going to have higher turnout.”AdvertisementIn 2016, both the Republican and Democratic primaries boasted a crowded field of candidates vying for their party’s nomination.
The GOP race that year was competitive well into May, with Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.)
and former Ohio governor John Kasich remaining in the race.
That year, Trump did not secure a majority of delegates until May 26.
The Democratic primary in 2016 was also competitive for longer, with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton securing the number of pledged delegates required for the nomination in early June that year.
Similarly, the 2020 Democratic primary saw a field of two dozen candidates at one point, and Biden clinched the nomination that year in early June.
Other unique circumstances may have depressed voter turnout this year.
The Iowa GOP caucuses saw their lowest turnout in decades, amid dangerous blizzards that swept the state that week.
AdvertisementKelley Koch, chair of the Dallas County GOP in suburban Des Moines, said the subzero temperatures in Iowa played a role in the low turnout — along with Trump’s “MAGA grasp” on the electorate.
“They knew Trump would win,” Koch said.
“They knew he would dominate and then went: ‘Eh, look at the weather.
I’ll stay home and watch football because I know Trump’s gonna win.’”The nominating contests in Nevada were particularly lackluster because there was no real competition.
Only Haley’s name was on the ballot for the primary, while Trump participated in separate GOP caucuses, through which the actual Republican delegates for Nevada were awarded.
Georgia, which held its primaries Tuesday, moved its contests up in the calendar compared with 2020, partly in the hope that it could play a bigger role in picking the GOP nominee.
Advertisement“We thought we might … be the determining state,” Georgia Gov.
Brian Kemp (R) told reporters Tuesday.
“It ends up we’re kind of an afterthought at this point.”Turnout was also down in Texas, which hosted key moments in the past two presidential primaries.
Four years ago, Biden spent the day before Super Tuesday in Texas, rallying with former primary rivals as he cemented his post-South Carolina comeback.
And in the 2016 Republican primary, Cruz worked hard to decisively win his home state as he pursued a direct matchup against Trump.
“Voters don’t want to watch a rerun, and what we’ve got in this matchup is effectively a rerun,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.
“This cycle’s really only activating the most attentive — the most core, interested — voter.
Everyone else seems to be left out, and I think that’s what’s going on.”AdvertisementSome election reformers have suggested a national primary day, where all the nominating contests would be held on a single day.
That would probably expand turnout, but it also has its downsides, said Mattias Polborn, a Vanderbilt University professor who has written about primaries.
Candidates would not be able to build momentum state-by-state, much

After the voters, or roughly 10% of them, spoke on Tuesday, President Biden and former President Donald Trump secured their parties’ presidential nominations. According to a Washington Post analysis, just roughly 10% of eligible voters nationwide cast ballots in the primaries or caucuses that resulted in Biden and Trump receiving the necessary number of delegates to win their nominations on Tuesday.

Even for primary nominating contests, which usually draw fewer voters than general elections, turnout was low this year. In the states where voting has already taken place this year, roughly 15% of eligible voters cast ballots in the primaries and caucuses held in 2016 and 2020.

Though some states, like California, are still counting votes, the percentage of eligible voters who took part in nominating contests this year through Tuesday will increase slightly, it is still anticipated to lag behind 2016 and 2020.

Promoting something.

The “foregone conclusion” that Biden would be the Democratic nominee and the early-stage dominance of Trump in the Republican field in polls were likely contributing factors to this year’s low voter turnout.

Deb Otis, the research and policy director of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for ranked-choice voting as a means of increasing voter engagement, stated that “that low turnout is dangerous.”. This low turnout is not indicative of the whole nation. “.

As Super Tuesday approached, only former U. N. ambassador Nikki Haley continued to be one of Trump’s main opponents in the GOP primary. Furthermore, compared to previous cycles, Trump has not campaigned as much, and Biden has only lately begun to increase the number of events connected to his campaign.

Political science professor Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, who specializes in voter turnout research, stated that competition is “one of the strongest predictors of turnout.”. “You’ll see higher turnout in an election with intense competition. “.


There were many contenders vying for their party’s nomination in both the Republican and Democratic primaries of 2016. That year, the GOP contest remained close until the end of May, with Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Tex. John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, is still running. It was not until May 26 of that year that Trump managed to secure a majority of delegates.

In early June of 2016, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton secured the necessary number of pledged delegates for the nomination, making the Democratic primary that year competitive for an extended period of time. In a similar vein, there were once twenty candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary; early in June of that year, Biden secured the nomination.

This year’s low voter turnout may have resulted from additional unusual circumstances. The state was hit by dangerous blizzards that week, which contributed to the lowest turnout for the Iowa GOP caucuses in decades.

Promoting something.

Trump’s “MAGA grasp” on the electorate, combined with the bitterly cold Iowa weather, contributed to the low turnout, according to Kelley Koch, chair of the Dallas County GOP in the Des Moines suburbs.

Trump’s victory was anticipated, according to Koch. “They said, ‘Eh, look at the weather,’ knowing he would dominate. I’ll watch football from home because I know Trump will win. ‘”.

There was no real competition, which made the Nevada nominating contests especially pathetic. Trump took part in separate GOP caucuses, where the real Republican delegates for Nevada were chosen, while Haley’s name was the only one on the primary ballot.

Tuesday’s primaries in Georgia were held earlier in the year than those in 2020, in part because the state wanted a greater say in selecting the Republican nominee.


Governor of Georgia said, “We thought we might… be the determining state.”. On Tuesday, Republican Brian Kemp told reporters. In the end, we’re kind of forgotten about at this point. “.

In Texas, which played host to significant events during the previous two presidential primaries, turnout was likewise low. In order to solidify his post-South Carolina comeback, Biden rallied with former primary rivals on the day before Super Tuesday four years ago in Texas. Cruz also made a concerted effort to win his home state handily in the 2016 Republican primary in order to face Trump head-to-head.

The University of Houston’s Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor, stated, “Voters don’t want to watch a rerun, and what we have in this matchup is effectively a rerun.”. “Only the most focused, engaged, and attentive voters are being activated by this cycle. It seems like everyone else is being left out, and I believe that to be the case. “.


A national primary day, on which all of the nomination contests would take place on a single day, has been proposed by some election reformers. That would likely increase participation, but there are drawbacks as well, according to professor Mattias Polborn of Vanderbilt University and author of several books on primaries. Unlike Joe Biden in the 2020 primary, when his first victory did not come until South Carolina, candidates would not be able to gain traction state by state.

“Biden in 2020 probably would not have won,” Polborn stated in response to the idea of a national primary day. “Having three states was a huge help to him in terms of traction.”. “.

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