Why Has GOP Turnout Taken a Dive?
Editor’s note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book “Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns.”
(CNN) — Beneath Rick Santorum’s stunning three-state sweep on Tuesday stands another stubborn sign of dissatisfaction with the status quo: Republican turnout is down.
I’m talking embarrassingly, disturbingly, hey-don’t-you-know-it’s-an-election-year bad. It is a sign of a serious enthusiasm gap among the rank and file, and a particularly bad omen for Mitt Romney and the GOP in the general election.
Here’s the tale of the tape, state by state, beginning with Tuesday night: Minnesota had just more than 47,000 people turn out for its caucuses this year — four years ago it was nearly 63,000 — and Romney came in first, not a distant third as he did Tuesday night. In Colorado, more than 70,000 people turned out for its caucus in 2008 — but in 2012 it was 65,000. And Missouri — even making a generous discount for the fact that this was an entirely symbolic contest — had 232,000 people turn out, less than half the number who did four years ago.