This weekend something very interesting will happen: we will get some good data over whether open/closed primaries and caucuses have an effect on Republican turnout during this election cycle. Basically, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine all have closed Republican primaries or caucuses this Saturday. This means that only Republicans will be able to vote in them. There are some variants to this:
- Kansas (
primary) Independents may do same day registration. Democrats and other registered party members will not. The deadline has passed.[Apparently the Kansas GOP changed this a while back: it's a closed caucus, no independents, deadline to register as a Republican 2/4/2016. Sorry about that; I thought that the KS SOS stuff took precedence. Thanks to @JonAlanSchmidt for point this out.]
- Kentucky (caucus) Only Republicans registered as of 12/31/2015 may participate in the caucus. Independents may not do so.
- Louisiana (primary) Only Republicans registered as of 2/3/2016 may participate in the primary. Independents may not do so.
- Maine (caucus): Independents may do same-day registration. Democrats and other registered party members will not. The deadline has passed.
...which is why this is so interesting. The races have been mostly open-primaries so far (if the GOP actually survives this election cycle, that's probably going to change in the next few years); and there's been an argument that a lot of Trump's support is coming from disaffected Democrats who have been drifting over to the GOP side during Obama's two terms*. This weekend will give us some data on that. So far, polls suggest that Louisiana is Trump's best state, but that's based on really bad state polling - and that's bad in the sense of 'nobody's polling the states enough.' Nonetheless, given the collapse of the Louisiana Democratic party, it wouldn't surprise me at all that a lot of registered Republicans are actually old Democrats that Trump might be able to draw from.
This would be such a fascinating primary season if I didn't happen to live in the country in which it was occurring...
*Speaking objectively: I don't blame them for being disaffected. God knows both parties have messed up more times than any of us can count. Speaking even more objectively: whether those voters like it or not, the fact that Trump keeps getting linked to all this white supremacist stuff is a real public perception problem for them and it's just going to get worse as time goes on.