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I have noticed based on observing election returns that voter turnout has been dramatically lower than in past elections. Some states are even recording lower turnout than the 2022 midterm primary turnouts.

I know that a big part of this drop-off is a lack of contested races. But even in contested races (where there was either a large Haley/anti-Trump vote that seemed to be driven by crossover voting in an open primary like in parts of Virginia, or a competitive non-presidential primary like the Senate race in Maryland), turnout is falling behind historical presidential-year levels for primaries.

I have 3 related questions:

  1. What factors are driving the decline in voter turnout in 2024's primaries so far?
  2. How does turnout in the states that have voted so far (most of them) compare to previous primaries?
  3. Historically, does turnout in primaries tend to predict general election turnout as well?

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What factors are driving the decline in voter turnout in 2024's primaries so far?

Voter turnout is driven by the top of the ticket race.

In 2024, the top of the ticket race was the race for the Presidency, and for the vast majority of primaries, that race was effectively uncontested for both major political parties.

So, turnout is low. No mystery there.

Historically, does turnout in primaries tend to predict general election turnout as well?

The relationships is not that simple. Often, one party or another will have a top of the ticket incumbent who is effectively uncontested in a primary. But that doesn't lead to low general election turnout when the general election top of the ticket race is contested.

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