Don't Get Too Cocky Republicans; the Turnout Numbers Say Democrats are Jazzed

Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)



As my colleague Nick Arama reported here, it was a great night for Trump. With 97% of the New Hampshire primary results in, the President is at 85.7%. In other words, he’s now in Reagan territory. And Tuesday’s Republican turnout, currently around 120,000, far exceeds that of any other incumbent president seeking reelection.

Although this is certainly good news, Republicans shouldn’t get too cocky because the Democrats had a very good night as well. The most updated figures (97%) show that 283,440 Democratic votes had been cast. Based on that number, 100% would bring it to approximately 292,200, which is significantly higher than Democratic turnout in 2016 of 253,062 (and slightly higher than in 2008 when 287,527 were cast).

By the time the final votes are counted, there will be roughly 39,144 more votes cast in 2020 than in 2016, an increase of 15.5%. Whether or not the increase we saw in the number of New Hampshire Democrats coming out to vote will repeat itself in future state primaries is hard to know. Democratic voter participation in Iowa was underwhelming. If the turnout levels continue to outperform 2016 as they did in NH, obviously that bodes well for the Democrats.

Bernie Sanders’ base is jazzed, and therefore motivated. In 2016, although Democrats wanted Hillary to win, few were actually excited about her. (I admit I may be wrong about that.) But, clearly, if Sanders becomes the nominee, he will generate more excitement than Hillary did, and turnout will be higher. If Democrats nominate Michael Bloomberg or Amy Klobuchar, it would likely be lower.


Barring a recession or an unforeseen scandal, President Trump stands an excellent chance of being reelected. His approval numbers are high. He has fulfilled or at least tried to fulfill his campaign promises. The list of his accomplishments is well-known and beyond the scope of this post. The level of excitement he generates at his rallies is unmatched by any of the Democratic candidates. Not even Bernie can inspire that degree of passion.

Even so, Republicans should not rest on their laurels. And they are not. The Trump campaign has reached out to blacks and Hispanics. Even a small increase in either of those two demographics can make a meaningful difference to his fortunes in November.

We also know that on average, 22-23% of attendees at Trump’s rallies are Democrats. In some cases, the combined percentage of attendees who identify as either Democratic or independent has approached 50%. He looks to be in very good shape, but he and his team must keep on pressing until Election Day. The future of America depends on it.


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