Update: Maybe that NYT-reported gap is closing, after all. Florida primary turnout “may set record,” says the Miami Herald. Nearly one million in the Sunshine State have cast early and absentee ballots. “The last time there was a contested presidential primary on both the Republican and Democratic sides, only about 19 percent of Florida voters, or 1.34 million, cast ballots. But numbers assembled by the political parties show that more than 988,000 people had voted by Sunday. And thousands more voted Sunday afternoon in the seven Florida counties, including Miami-Dade and Broward, that were still conducting early voting. Lines at some early voting sites in South Florida snaked around buildings and stretched out onto sidewalks.”
As Floridians head to the polls, the NYTimes touts an “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans. Is it that Republicans are less enthused about their presidential candidates–or that Democrats have more BDS-fueled energy to channel into the race?
In the first four contests in which both parties have competed, the Democrats have set records for turnout and substantially exceeded the Republican showing, according to state parties and state election tallies.
In South Carolina on Saturday, for example, more than 530,000 Democrats voted, nearly twice the Democratic turnout of 2004, and nearly 20 percent higher than the Republican vote the week before.
Other indicators of an enthusiasm gap show up in polls, with more Democrats than Republicans reporting excitement about voting this year and a strong commitment to their candidate, according to recent New York Times/CBS News polls. Democratic presidential candidates have also regularly out-raised the Republicans in campaign cash.
Some Republicans are downplaying the trend:
Republican Party analysts also note that both Ronald Reagan and the senior George Bush were elected after Republican primaries in which turnout was lower than in the Democratic primaries.
“Democrats seem to frequently ignore the lessons of history, and they do so in 2008 at their own peril,” said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
And others are depending on Hillary to be the glue that re-binds the cracked-up party:
Richard N. Bond, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a lobbyist, said there was no reason for his party to “hit the panic button.” A nominee will emerge in his party, Mr. Bond said, and present a clear enough contrast to the Democratic nominee that “it will reinvigorate the entire Republican operation.”
Alluding to the possibility of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic nominee, Mr. Bond added, “No one has the capacity to put the band back together again as much as she has.”
Is that enough?
From Bryan Preston, stark contrasts between the parties like this help: