Turnout among Republican dogs has also been strong this year. Photographer: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Turnout among Republican dogs has also been strong this year. Photographer: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Voter turnout in primaries this year is down sharply, and more so for Democrats, suggesting a strong Republican showing in November.

In the first 25 statewide primaries this year, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, overall turnout is down 18 percent from the last midterms elections, in 2010. Only 14.8 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot for governor or U.S. senator according to the nonpartisan group, which has done analysis of voter engagement for three decades.

Turnout for Democrats plummeted 29 percent from four years ago. Republican turnout was down too, but only by 15 percent.

The report buttresses Republicans' contention the party will do better in November because the large Democratic turnout in the presidential year will decline significantly. This gives Republicans high hopes of gaining a net of at least six Senate seats to take control of that body, and of adding to their advantages in the House and among governors.

Democrats counter this is misleading, as they had fewer contested primaries this spring and summer, providing less incentive to turn out. Moreover, Democratic strategists claim their more-sophisticated voter identification and turnout operation will kick in this November.

There are 61 million Americans who are eligible but not registered to vote. The most effective way to address this, says Curtis Gans, who directs the voter study, would be to follow Mexico and create a biometric national identification card and system: "It would automatically enfranchise the 61 million, eliminate inaccurate voting lists, make voting a one-step act and eliminate the possibility of all type of fraud other than vote-buying and election-official misconduct."

To contact the writer of this article: Al Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net.