Federal Primary Election Runoffs and Voter Turnout Decline

Posted on August 13, 2009

Summary of Findings:

Overall: Of 104 total runoffs for the period under study, 101 saw turnout declines. Mean turnout decline for the period was 34.7%. Median decline was 32.9%.

Over time: Turnout dropoff worsened since 2004.
2006: 43.31%
2004: 38.96%
2002: 30.20%
2000: 47.96%
1998: 31.62%
1996: 35.56%
1994: 28.10%

House vs. Senate: 39.59% dropoff in Senate races. 33.91% dropoff in House races.

By party: 34.54% dropoff in Democrat primaries. 35.36% dropoff in Republican primaries.

Gender: 26.08% dropoff in races with female candidates.

Race: 34.95% dropoff in races with candidates of color. Note the sample is incomplete; several races are omitted.

Comebacks: 29.17% of candidates trailed in the first round but won the runoff (28 candidates).

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