The Trump effect: Democratic turnout soars on Super Tuesday

Even before all the votes have been tallied, one thing is clear:
participation in Democratic primaries is soaring in 2020 as
compared to 2016 and even 2008 in some places.

In some states, that’s partly a function of moving from the
caucus system to the much less time-intensive primary process.
states include
Colorado, where turnout
was up
about 517% over 2016; Maine quadrupled voter
participation from about 47,000 in ’16 to some 194,000 with 90%
reporting; Minnesota also almost quadrupled from 205,000-plus in
‘16 to 745,000-plus Tuesday night; and Utah is up about 120% over
last cycle.

But where participation soared was another important part of the
story, with the suburban areas that helped push Democrats
to sweeping victories in the midterms again showing a surge in
voting. Virginia participation
nearly doubled
to 1.3 million voters, and Joe Biden won

nearly every county there
, including in the suburbs that
surround D.C. Additionally, Biden beat Sanders
by double digits
in the suburb-heavy counties of Texas that
include Dallas and Houston. And much like the results from South
Carolina, Biden also turned in dominant performances among black
voters in Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Sanders, on the other hand, drew a shrinking share of the
electorate compared to four years ago
in every one
of the 15 states and territories. In his home
state of Vermont, for instance, he claimed just over 50% of the
vote compared to 86% four years earlier. 

But maybe even more telling is the fact he doesn’t seem to be
animating record-level participation this cycle among the
demographic groups with which he performs very well. Among
Latino voters in California, for instance, he beat Biden by
roughly 34 points but the group’s share of the electorate appeared
to be down about 2 points from 2008. 

The story of Super Tuesday is one of increased participation,
who exactly turned out in higher numbers, and which candidate they
overwhelmingly chose. Biden claimed the lion’s share of arguably
the two most important demographic groups heading into 2020: black
voters, the backbone of the Democratic party, and white suburban
voters, the cohort that helped drive Democrats to such a decisive
win in 2018.

On a final note, we cannot forget that although
increased turnout on Super Tuesday is cause for celebration,
voters of color, particularly in Texas, faced far greater hurdles
to casting their votes. We have simply got to do better and voters
of color certainly deserve better after centuries of fighting for
their right to vote in this country.

Today is many things. But it is also Hervis Rogers Day. The
fight for fair elections has literally been for centuries!

— Stacy Parker LeMelle (@StacyLeMelle)
March 4, 2020