The Republican party in Iowa did a better job in voter turnout last night, both in terms of absolute number of voters and in comparison to previous benchmarks. In raw numbers, the totals were: 185K Republicans to 171K Democrats (which is even better than 2008’s results). The difference was starker when you look at relative vote totals: in 2012 (the last competitive Republican caucus) the GOP got 121K votes, while in 2008 (the last competitive Democratic caucus) the Democrats got 239K votes. In other words: Democrats in Iowa were simply not as engaged in the process as the Republicans were – and last night, it showed.
Then again, why should the Democrats be engaged? Their nominal (adjective chosen with malice aforethought) front-runner Hillary Clinton has essentially no arguments for picking her besides the fact that she’s a woman… and, much more importantly, that she feels utterly entitled to the job. Her major opponent Bernie Sanders is an equally-old Socialist who’d much rather be a Communist, only not even Vermont would elect a dirty, stinking Commie to federal office. And Martin O’Malley is now gone, if indeed he was ever really there to begin with.
But the funniest part of the joke? The Democrats went to some trouble to arrange this state of affairs. Seldom have I seen such a concerted effort by a party to deliberately dampen its own turnout. Well, they got their wish… and Bernie Sanders almost won the Iowa caucus anyway. So I’d have to say that things aren’t turning out the way the Democrats planned.
PS: If you’re wondering how a political party will be able to manage the neat trick of turning off its voters for a primary, then turning them back on for the general election – that’s an interesting question! I can’t wait to see what the Democrats try to do to make that happen. …And note the use of the word ‘try.’