Shockingly Low Turnout in Illinois Democratic Primary Suggests Many Democrats Voted in Republican Primary

With 100% of the precincts counted, but some absentee and provisional ballots still uncounted, here are election returns for the Illinois primary of March 18. The number of votes cast in the Democratic primary for Governor is only 438,112, even though that race was contested. By comparison, here is the number of votes cast in recent previous Democratic primaries for Illinois Governor: 2010 915,726; 2006 944,397; 2002 1,252,516; 1998 950,307.

In other words, the number of votes cast in the 2014 primary was less than half of the number of votes cast in each of the last the four preceding Democratic gubernatorial primaries. The number is apparently the lowest number of votes cast in an Illinois Democratic gubernatorial primary since the 1940’s.

The 2014 Republican primary shows 808,830 votes cast for Governor. Past Republican Illinois primary vote totals for Governor are: 2010 767,485; 2006 735,810; 2002 917,828; 1998 707,406. 2014 is the first Illinois primary with more voters choosing the Republican primary ballot than the Democratic primary ballot since 1986.

It seems clear that hundreds of thousands of Illinois Democrats chose the Republican primary ballot. Illinois is an open primary state. Illinois voter registration forms don’t ask voters to choose a party. The motivation for so many Democrats to vote in the Republican primary was that Bruce Rauner is considered to be a foe of government employee unions, whereas Kirk Dillard, his leading Republican competitor, is their friend. Rauner narrowly beat Dillard, 323,296 to 302,035.


Shockingly Low Turnout in Illinois Democratic Primary Suggests Many Democrats Voted in Republican Primary — No Comments

  1. Looks like that helped the long-shot challenger in the Democratic primary carry a decent number of counties, beating the sitting Governor in the southern part of the state, despite polling under 30% statewide.

  2. Abolish all robot party hack primaries, caucuses and conventions — which only produce moron and/or extremist candidates.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  3. I was one of the 39 people that voted for Paula Bradshaw in Jackson County. It’s a precious thing in this country to be able to vote for someone other than a Democrat or a Republican in a primary election. I hope we get to do that again in 2016 although, really, I’d still prefer to see the House switch to proportional representation one of these days.

  4. I am dubious of your conjecture.

    Cook County turnout was down 42% from 2010, when it provided 40,000 of Quinn’s 8,400 vote margin.

    But turnout in the Democratic primary was down 55%, dropping from 568,000 to 255,000, or 313,000 fewer bodies. On the Republican side turnout was up 4.6% from 159,000 to 166,000.

    If your theory were correct with a uniform drop in turnout, then 67,000 Republicans and 239,000 Democrats would have stayed home – but then 74,000 (22%) of the returning Democrats, we’ll call them DemoReps took a Republican ballot. Quite unlikely.

    More likely the Democratic machine, nor candidates didn’t push turnout. They were more likely focused on getting people to sign up for Obamacare. It is too confusing a message to tell people to buy health insurance and also vote Republican in the primary. “I went to that web site to vote for Obama like they told me to, and now I’m getting these bills every month.”

    There may have a 10 or 20,000 voters who switched parties. But these may well be swing voters, who in 2010 decided to vote in the Quinn-Hynes race, and this year in the Republican primary.

    If we look at some other counties:

    Champaign: GOP 14,365 to 14,368; Dem 7449 to 7427. Essentially no change.

    Christian: GOP 2140 to 3117, Dem 4523 to 1774. Your theory might hold up here, but the 2010 vote being so heavily Democratic is a curiosity.

    DuPage: GOP 93,771 to 91,968; Dem 39,697 to 15,046.

    Under uniform dropoff, 20% of voters stayed home; but a majority of returning Democrats were DemoReps.

  5. I asked for a socialist ballot, but as they didn’t have one I took a Non-Partisan ballot. One referendum issue and I voted No. No hacks or judges to worry about.

  6. What is the point of an election if the candidates are chosen in some back room?

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