Enthusiasm gap? Tuesday’s GOP primary turnout lags behind 2008by George Bennett | February 1st, 2012
Many Republicans regard the 2008 election as a low point for GOP enthusiasm. But Florida Republicans were more amped about the state’s presidential primary four years ago than they were this year.
Not quite 1.7 million Republicans cast ballots in Tuesday’s Florida Republican presidential primary — about 276,000 fewer than in 2008. Turnout Tuesday was 41.1 percent — down from 51 percent four years ago, when Florida effectively handed John McCain the Republican nomination.
Evidence of an enthusiasm problem in the GOP?
“I don’t think we have an enthusiasm gap,” says Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Hughes.
“I would argue you had more competitive top candidates who were putting money into get-out-the-vote,” in 2008, Hughes said.
The 2008 GOP field included McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. Tuesday’s race was essentially a two-man contest between Romney and Newt Gingrich as Rick Santorum and Ron Paul spent little or no time or money in the state.
Also, the 2008 primary ballot included a statewide property tax-limitation question that helped drive turnout. There were no other statewide ballot questions or races on Tuesday’s ballot.