AP Downplays Large GOP Turnout Advantage in Early Primaries

The Associated Press managed to report on yesterday's primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio while muddling the incontrovertibly disastrous results for Democrats in those states. Even while touting the races as harbingers for November, the AP failed to extrapolate the trends right before their eyes.

In short, turnout for Republican primaries in all three states was up almost across the board, while Democratic turnout "dropped precipitously," in the words of National Journal's Reid Wilson.

The AP noted the "exceptionally light [turnout] in Ohio and North Carolina," failing to mention that GOP turnout in these states was up in virtually every race, while a drop in Demcorats at the polls produced the "light" numbers it mentions.

Liz Sidoti and Deanna Martin, who penned the AP piece, bizarrely postulate that  low turnout in those two states is "a possible indication that voter anger over economic woes, persistently high unemployment and Congress itself wasn't influencing elections - and, perhaps, a reflection of the limited influence of the conservatives and libertarians who make up the fledgling tea party coalition."

But the strong Republican performance coupled with the apparent apathy of voters from the party of the congressional majority suggest the exact opposite. Their analysis, postulates the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, "may just be wishful thinking."

In their 15 paragraphs of analysis, Sidoti and Martin do not even recount the essential numbers. Taranto does, via Wilson's piece in the National Journal:

Ohio Democratic turnout was down to 663,000 from 872,000 in 2006. Four years ago, neither the candidate for governor nor for senate (both of whom prevailed in the general election) had a primary opponent, whereas this year there was a competitive primary for the open seat now held by Sen. George Voinovich. On the Republican side, 728,000 voters turned out, even though the highest-ranking office with a contested primary was secretary of state.

In North Carolina, 425,000 Democrats turned out to vote in a competitive primary to replace Sen. Richard Burr--a turnout of 14.4%, down from 18% in 2004, when the Senate primary was uncontested and the incumbent Democratic governor "faced only a gadfly candidate." On the Republican side, 373,000 voters turned out this year for an uncompetitive primary, up from 343,000 "in the equally non-competitive primary in '04."

The Indiana Republican primary attracted 550,000 voters, up 14.6% from 2006, when Sen. Richard Lugar ran unopposed.

Of course these results do not necessarily herald a sweeping GOP victory in November. They don't necessarily herald anything. But given that the primaries "set the stage for November's congressional matchups and provided early insights about voter attitudes ahead of this fall's elections," perhaps such dramatic shifts in turnout are be worth noting?

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