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The Big News? Dem Voter Registration And Turn-Out Still Enormous

Democratic turnout was enormous in every state yesterday. Huge. As in ran out of ballots and had to get more, long lines going out the door huge. For a primary.

In Texas, the caucuses were swamped in places that previously had seen as little as 3 or 4 people participating in past years. Voter turnout in TX blew the prior primary record out of the water by around a million voters.

In Ohio, they also set a record for primary turnout, as voters battled horrid weather to get to the polls:

Results showed that the Democratic contest dominated the night in Ohio, with many unaffiliated and Republican voters choosing to vote on the Democratic side in this perennial swing state that has made a habit of picking presidents.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Democratic candidates received more than twice the number of votes that Republicans did, with 2.15 million votes to Republicans’ roughly 1.05 million.

There were also record numbers in Vermont and Rhode Island. Vermont had 13,000 new voter registrations to add to their voting totals, all registered just since January. Rhode Island’s turnout was more than double their previous primary high mark.

Which just adds to the increased numbers in every Democratic primary thus far. It’s especially notable in light of prior primaries, comparing D and R numbers this year:

In the first five weeks of 2008, "voter turnout" was a phrase that was used almost exclusively in connection with the Democratic Party. There were routine stories of precincts running short on ballots, poll hours being extended, and voters packing haunch to paunch inside community centers and local churches. Crowd sizes were described, often with growing awe, as "staggering," "record breaking," or "unprecedented."

The actual numbers justified the claims….

On a state-by-state basis, Democrats had higher turnouts than Republicans in 19 out of 25 states. The six outliers that tilted Republican were Arizona (Sen. John McCain’s home turf), Utah (a pro-Romney Mormon stronghold), Michigan (where Rep. Denis Kucinich was the sole Democrat to campaign), Florida (where no Democrats campaigned), Alabama, and Alaska.

Even in Georgia, a state President George W. Bush won in 2004 by 17 percent, Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans by nearly 100,000….

Every state thus far has also seen newly added registrations, some at rates exceeding what the expectations were from prior years. While primary turnout doesn’t necessarily translate into a fall victory, the increased enthusiasm and new registration numbers — if it holds through November — could have a very positive effect on a whole host of down ticket races. And that translates into a potential long-term shift in a whole lot of communities and states.

Some of the credit for this increase has to go to Obama strategist David Axelrod, whose background in media work and message crafting has helped him shape a formidable ground game for the campaign. The increase in Clinton organizational energy coincided with the return of Harold Ickes, whose experience is useful, whose past missteps may be legion, but whose mind for numbers is incredible. Which makes for a lot of continued excitement in the weeks ahead, I’m sure. But the most credit has to go to energized voters:

"I don’t know how much difference this makes in the long run, but it makes a lot of difference to me," said 31-year-old Megan House, who was hoping to be chosen a delegate for the next stage of the process. "You’ve got to make a stand somewhere. People are understanding that democracy is controlled by those who show up."

For all of you thus far who have voted and worked this election cycle? Bravo.

(YouTube of Gendron/Ivaldi playing Debussy’s Cello Sonata in 1967.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com