Are You The One in Twenty That Matters?

About one out of every twenty Democrats or Republicans has a significant say on who their party’s nominee for president is going to be.  What is this?  Iron Curtain Bulgaria?

Live in DE and wanted to vote for Biden?  Live in NJ and felt like helping to ensure Giuliani had a few delegates?  If so, your national party representatives  think it’s way more important to count New Hampshire Republicans voting for Obama, and Michigan Democrats voting for McCain. 

Thus far, according to data at’s election center, about 6,461,335 people have casted ballots in primary elections.  I am not counting caucus votes in IA, WY, LA, and NV.  The latter two, at least some will say, are pretty corrupt.  Ask Ron Paul and Ms. Clinton.  If I’m going to toss those out, though, I figure I should toss the other caususes out as well.

So about 6.4 million people have thus far cast votes in actual presidential primaries, about 3.1m Dems and 3.3m GOP voters.  These are the regular folks who walked to their normal polling place and exercised their right to small-r republican representation.

In 2004 there were, according to census data here, 142 million people registered to vote, with about 89% of them actually voting.

Let’s assume about one fifth of those registered voters are not registered to one of the two major parties.  This is a standard rule of thumb.

That gives us 113.6m major party voters who are pretty evenly split, marginally trending towards democrats.  So about 56m in the GOP, and 57.6m Democrats.

These numbers give us this table:

04 Registered Voters 08 Primary Votes Cast % of Voters Enfranchised
Dem 57,600,000 3,088,734 5.36%
GOP 56,000,000 3,372,601 6.02%

And remember, those numbers are inflated by independents.  Granted, this miscarriage of simple governing logic needs to ultimately be laid at the insensate feet of our national parties, not the government more broadly.

Keep this in mind the next time you wonder why the Dems and GOP cannot find candidates that satisfy those actually registered to the party.  It appears the parties want it that way.

Of course, your milage may vary with your local party committees.  Mine seems pretty strong and representative at the local level.  Big ups to Bob Tigro!  But that strength declines as we move up the food chain.  In fact, I imagine the experience I am about to have advocating for a reform of this system will make that blindingly clear.


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