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GOP Turnout Numbers in Illinois Look Good for Mark Kirk

The numbers aren’t all in yet, but it looks like 885,268 people cast ballots in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Illinois, while 736,137 people cast ballots in the Republican primary. Illinois is one of a few states open registration states where voters can pick any ballot at the polls. So roughly 55 percent of voters chose to vote in the much more contested Democratic primary than the Republican one, sending state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias to run against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

By contrast, in the 2008 presidential contest, 2,038,614 Illinoisans voted in the Democratic primary, most of them for Barack Obama. And 899,422 voted in the Republican primary, most of them for John McCain. So roughly 69 percent of voters picked Democratic ballots over Republican ballots.

What does this mean? Reading primary numbers can be a fruitless exercise — I distinctly remember Michael Barone pouring cold water on Jim Webb’s chances in the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Virginia because so few Democrats voted in his primary — but to miss the fall-off in Democratic enthusiasm in this state since 2008 is to miss something obvious.

Another way of looking at it? Many more people voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Illinois presidential primary than voted for all of the Democratic candidates combined in this primary — 1,318,234 compared to 885,268.

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