In case you missed it… For the first time in 12 years, Democratic turnout outpaced Republican turnout in a presidential primary election in Ohio, as Democrats continue to make significant gains in formerly deep-red suburban strongholds.
Even with more than 200,000 absentee ballots still outstanding, Democratic turnout was 25 percent higher than GOP turnout.
On a conference call with reporters this week, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said, “It doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed to win. We’re a close state but it puts us in a much better position to win than we’ve been in any year since ’08. We are now in the mix as a swing state in a way that we weren’t.”
This follows on the heels of two consecutive polls showing Joe Biden in the lead in the Buckeye State. The Trump campaign is clearly concerned about Ohio — Donald Trump visited the Buckeye State for his first campaign rally of 2020, and his campaign is spending big on Facebook advertising targeting the state.
Turnout among Democrats in 2020 was higher than the nearly 542,000 who voted for President Barack Obama, who was running unopposed in the 2012 primary.
Despite an odd primary, Democrats are buoyed by strong performances in suburban counties, such as Warren County, and a better showing than Republicans, who didn’t have a contested primary.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed to win. We’re a close state but it puts us in a much better position to win than we’ve been in any year since ’08,” Pepper said. “We are now in the mix as a swing state in a way that we weren’t.”
Republican turnout – 682,843 votes cast – in this year’s primary was down significantly from the nearly 2 million votes cast in 2016 when Trump faced Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a heated race.
GOP turnout was also higher in 2012 – 1.2 million votes cast – when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney faced former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and others in the Republican primary.
Even with the challenges of transitioning to a vote-by-mail primary, Pepper said Democratic voter turnout surpassed 2012 turnout among Democratic primary voters. Over 860,000 ballots were cast in the 2020 Democratic primary according to unofficial results posted on the secretary of state’s website. That number is expected to increase as more mail-in ballots that are postmarked before or by April 27 are received. “I think it shows an underlying level of Democratic enthusiasm, even amid all these challenges,” Pepper said.
More on turnout levels in suburban Ohio:
Cincinnati Enquirer: Turnout was down in Ohio’s mostly-mail primary. But there’s more to the story.
CBS News 2020 Daily Trail Markers: The fate of unspent presidential campaign cash
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