Light Turnout Predicted for Super Tuesday
Two-candidate Virginia ballot may discourage voters from heading to the polls
"I expect a poor turnout. With no real competition, many voters will conclude, 'Why bother?'" said Mark J. Rozell, professor of Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax.
Mark Kelly, former chairman of the Arlington County Republican Party, also predicted a turnout lower than the presidential primary in 2008 which saw about 9,500 voters show up for the Republican ticket.
"Of course, the Obama-Clinton primary was going on the same day. There was more attention drawn to it, as well," Kelly said. I'm guessing lower [this year], just because it doesn't seem like [the candidates] are really contesting this."
In 2008, when there was both a Democratic and Republican primary, 60,808 Fairfax County voters participated in the Republican primary.
Voter turnout was 9.2 percent and 8.6 percent in the Hunter Mill and Providence Districts that year; turnout was about 11 percent statewide, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections.
Most of Vienna's precincts saw only a few hundred voters. Among those with the highest turnout were Wolftrap, with 470 votes, and Flint Hill, with 440.
Paul and Romney both appeared on the primary ballot that year. John McCain easily outpaced other candidates in Vienna-area precincts, with 61.5 percent of the votes in the Hunter Mill District and 59.6 percent in Providence. But the race between Paul and Romney was a bit closer: Paul beat Romney by just one vote in the Hunter Mill District and by a slightly larger margin of nearly 50 in the Providence District.
Because President George W. Bush (R) went unchallenged in 2004, the last comparable GOP presidential primary race to this year's was in 2000 when Vice President Al Gore went unchallenged for the Democrats. Five Republican candidates, including Bush and John McCain, battled for the GOP nomination.
That year, Virginia saw a 17.28 percent turnout, with five candidates on the ballot, including George W. Bush and John McCain.
In Fairfax County, 126,234 of the 544,157 registered voters turned out to vote in the GOP presidential primary, a 23.2 percent turnout, said Elections Chief Cameron Quinn.
Potential VP McDonnell Encourages Participation
Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has endorsed frontrunner Mitt Romney and campaigned with him in South Carolina and Florida, told reporters in a Monday conference call he hoped voters turned out to the polls in what he called a state critically important to the presidential elections.
"It was a state that three, four years ago went for Obama and seven years ago went for President Bush, so it certainly has the ability for both Democrats and Republicans to win," McDonnell said. "That's why most people think Virginia will be a very important state in November."
Is McDonnell, who is oft discussed as a potential running mate with Romney, serving up Virginia's delegates to Romney on a silver platter?
University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato, in his "Crystal Ball" report, noted Virginia's leaders are Romney supporters and said Romney will "sweep or nearly sweep" the state and is "guaranteed Virginia" and its 46 delegates.
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