Jonathan Chait

Depressed Democrats

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Yesterday I wrote that Democrats' political liabilities at the moment include, though are not limited to, a morbidly depressed base. Tom Jensen notes that the enthusiasm gap manifested itself yesterday in Illinois:

Based on the current numbers 885,268 voters were cast in the Democratic primary for Senate compared to 736,137 on the Republican side. Those numbers are awfully close to each other for a state that's overwhelmingly Democratic.

For sake of comparison the last time there were competitive Senate primaries on both sides in Illinois, in 2004 when Barack Obama was nominated, there were nearly twice as many votes cast in the Democratic primary as the Republican one. 1,242,996 voted in the Democratic race to 661, 804 for the Republicans.

So, to crunch the numbers, GOP primary turnout is up 11% over 2004. Democratic turnout has dropped 29%. If the Democrats let health care reform die, they'll be looking at a turnout cataclysm.

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