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MEMO: Turnout Exposes Democrats’ Enthusiasm Problem

- March 2, 2016

TO: Interested Parties
FROM:     Chris Carr, RNC Political Director
RE: Turnout Exposes Democrats’ Enthusiasm Problem
DATE: March 2, 2016

 

The Democrats aren’t fired up for 2016. Through the first 15 contests of the 2016 presidential cycle, Republicans have seen record turnout while Democrats have seen a massive drop-off from 2008. This is in addition to promising voter registration trends and record high debate viewership for the GOP. These dynamics point to Hillary Clinton’s failure to reassemble the Obama coalition and a broader enthusiasm problem for Democrats in the general election. As is often said, elections come down to turnout, and that’s where the biggest red flags lie for Democrats.

“Democratic Party elites … should be very, very nervous.” – The Huffington Post, 2/28/16

 

Republicans have seen record turnout in 14 out of the first 15 contests and the contrast with the Democrats couldn’t be more striking.  While Republican turnout is up 69.5 percent from 2012, Democrat turnout is down by 31.6 percent from 2008.   An impressive 9,715,350 voters have cast ballots for the GOP while 6,661,836 have voted Democrat, a difference of 3,053,514 votes.  That’s approaching the Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 and we’re only talking about the primary.

Aside from a dramatic enthusiasm gap, there are other troubling signs for Democrats and particularly Clinton.  In Nevada, Hispanic turnout was down in the Democrat caucus, and media polls show Bernie Sanders won the Hispanic vote. Meanwhile in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton failed to turn out African American voters in the same numbers that voted in 2008. Given that Hillary Clinton’s entire electoral strategy is predicated on recreating the Obama coalition, these results suggest her campaign is making a very risky bet.

The yawning enthusiasm gap among Democrats points to problems down ticket too. Recall that the Democrats’ only strategy for retaking either chamber of Congress has been to ride Hillary Clinton’s coattails. If Clinton is unable to get Democrats to turnout like they did for Obama, there are going to be a lot of angry Democrat campaigns on election night. Then again, is it really any surprise Democrats are struggling to excite voters when more than two-thirds of the country wants a new direction from their next president and their front runner is a flip-flopping Washington insider under FBI investigation?

Here’s the bottom line: A country eager for change from eight years of failure under President Obama and an embattled front-runner promising more of the same are adding up to create significant headwinds for Democrats’ hopes to keep hold of the White House and regain control of Congress. President Obama’s winning coalition is so far proving to be just that: his, not Hillary Clinton’s. As we head into March, there’s no question the overarching political landscape is tilted in favor of a Republican victory in November.

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