Hillary. Trump. Ted. Bernie. There was no shortage of high-wattage personalities at this year’s presidential primaries, and it brought people to the polls. The New Jersey Division of Elections reported on Tuesday that 26 percent of all those registered voted in the June primary. That sounds low, particularly for a presidential election. But it was more than voted in last year’s general election, when just 22 percent went to the polls. In the 2014 primary, the last time a federal primary race was on the ballot, the turnout was 8 percent. In 2012, the last presidential primary, 9 percent of all registered voters cast ballots.
The primary turnout number is even more impressive when it’s noted that it counts people who voted against the total number of registered voters — including those who are unaffiliated with a party. In order to vote in the primary, an individual must be declared with one party or the other, or declare a party that day. Most unaffiliated voters want to stay that way and do not vote in primaries. Comparing the number who voted against the number of registered Democrats and Republicans yields much larger numbers: 51 percent turnout for Democrats and 43 percent for Republicans, or close to 47 percent overall.