The Turnout was great
Journalists have had a field day with their claim that the turnout for the February 4 Republican caucuses was disappointing. What I want to know is, other than journalists, who was disappointed?
Just under 33,000 Republicans turned out for the caucuses. My expectation was 30,000 because the novelty of early caucuses wore off after 2008 and because the presidential field offered this year was the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
And I was more optimistic than most GOP leaders. Earlier this year a couple of them gave me predictions of 20,000 and 25,000. Their reasoning was that the public, and particularly Republicans, have never been as keen on early caucuses as Harry Reid. As a result, the GOP didn’t do a lot to promote turnout.
Unfortunately, those party leaders didn’t get that message out because they thought their anticipation of lower attendance might itself depress turnout. That meant the caucuses were measured by the fantastic expectations of commentators, expectations which are surrounded on all four sides by reality.
Turnout was low only in comparison to 2008’s 44,000 and to the claims of journalists. By contrast, turnout in 2000 and 2004 was in four figures. Given the indifference of Republicans to early caucuses, turnout this year was terrific.