As I mentioned yesterday, the thing that worried me most about the New Hampshire primary last night was the turnout numbers. I’m very happy to say that that worry turns out to have been unfounded; with roughly 85% of returns in the GOP currently has a very comfortable lead of 263K voters to the Democrats’ 232K. This is in marked contrast to the 2008 primary (2012’s was essentially uncontested on the Democratic side; ours got 248K), where the Democrats racked up 289K voters to our 239K; in fact, it’s even fair to say that it’s a reversal.
This is something to keep in mind, particularly since we also saw the same thing happening in Iowa: the Democrats are not happy campers right now. If Iowa and New Hampshire really are bellwether states, then the trend suggests that the Democrats are going to be dogged with reduced turnout for the rest of the primary season. Great news for Bernie Sanders, because he probably has more naturally enthusiastic supporters than Hillary Clinton does… but bad news for the Democratic party, largely because it’s great news for Bernie Sanders. After all, the Democrats won New Hampshire and Iowa in 2008 and 2012. How do they expect to win them in 2016 if their voters won’t show up?
As for our side: the eventual candidate is going to have to thread a needle. Right now the primary (sorry!) concern for all candidates* is to figure out how to win the nomination without unduly infuriating any more of the potential voting pool than he** can possibly help. The entertaining part of that last sentence is that everybody reading it will half-agree with me; because, of course, it’s all the OTHER candidates who have to worry about that the most. Sorry, not this time. The good news is, once you get ’em voting in the primaries, it’s usually not impossible to get ’em voting in the general election, too. It’s easier to get people get invested in the process when they’ve already spent a little time and effort first.
**Sorry, Carly Fiorina.