In a crazy, crowded primary election, Democrats show their ultimate goal with high turnout across the country.
The best news for Democrats in the Super Tuesday results may not be the surge of Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders hanging on, or even Mike Bloomberg dropping out. No, the best news is the record and near record turnout of Democratic voters all across the country. Whoever the eventual nominee is, it’s clear that Democrats are fired up and ready to vote to defeat Donald Trump.
In Virginia, Democratic primary turnout was the highest on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2008. In fact, 23% of registered Virginians cast ballots on Super Tuesday, which almost doubled primary turnout from 2016.
Utah saw a turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic primary that eclipsed previous turnout for any primary held in the state, among Democrats or Republicans.
In North Carolina, voter turnout was also up over 2016 numbers. And early voting had a strong surge — with almost twice as many Democrats in the state casting early ballots compared with Republicans.
Record-breaking voter turnouts
Numbers are still being crunched, but U.S. News and World Report detailed high turnout across the country. Early evidence suggests that Texas saw an increase of nearly a half-million primary ballots cast over 2016 numbers. In Maine, turnout was so high that many polling stations ran out of Democratic primary ballots.
Plus, according to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ voters doubled their representation in Super Tuesday turnout, over previous primary elections.
Other outcomes from the Super Tuesday primaries are still being analyzed, but The New York Times has reported on how Latino voters are expected to provide a decisive surge in California, Texas and beyond.
In other words, if you’re looking for your silver lining, Democrats, I got it right here. In a crazy, crowded primary election in which the only thing Democrats consistently seem able to agree on is that they want to defeat Trump, in the primary elections Democrats are indeed enthusiastically showing up.
Let’s be honest, there are and have been some amazing Democratic presidential candidates in this election, but no single candidate has yet galvanized a strong and enduring majority of support. That could certainly change any day, but it’s notable to see record turnout in primaries when there’s not excitement around some single candidate driving that turnout — as we saw, for instance, with Barack Obama in 2008. You’ve got Democrats turning up in record numbers in Utah to nominate Sanders and Democrats turning up in record numbers in South Carolina to nominate Biden.
The through line doesn’t appear to be any one candidate but, rather, Democratic enthusiasm and energy. We’re just chomping at the bit to vote for anyone but Trump.
Trump and GOP can’t stop us
To be clear, there are some clouds in this silver lining. Young voters aren’t turning out at the levels that helped put Obama in the White House and that would certainly help put Democrats over the top this fall. In Texas, for instance, NBC News’ exit polls show that the share of Democratic primary voters over the age of 65 was almost twice as high as in 2008, and still over-represented compared with the state’s growing younger population.
There are also concerns about suppression. Part of the record lines reported at polling stations across our nation might have had to do with record turnout, but they also stemmed from Republicans shuttering polling locations and imposing new ID requirements, making voters work even harder and wait even longer to cast their ballots.
For instance, when CNN’s Ed Lavandera tweeted about a man at Texas Southern University who spent nearly seven hours waiting to be able to cast his vote, commentator and advocate Keith Boykin noted, “Texas has closed 750 polling places since 2012, many in black and brown communities, causing long lines and waits.”
What is extraordinarily and unfortunately clear is that Trump and Republicans don’t want an election that includes every voter and treats them equally, just like they don’t want our nation to include all of us and treat all of us equally.
And while it is not yet clear who Democrats will nominate as our standard-bearer to face Trump and the GOP in this existential, epoch-defining electoral battle in November, it is increasingly clear that Democrats are fired up for that fight — and in spite of all the obstacles, going to damn well make sure our voices are heard. While we don’t yet know who is the ultimate winner of this raucous, energetic Democratic primary, Trump is the loser.
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