Biden's Enthusiasm Deficit

While President Joe Biden enjoyed a strong Super Tuesday performance opposite Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), author Marianne Williamson, and states that included an Uncommitted slate option, his overall political picture is not as bright.

While the Super Tuesday vote delivered a strong performance for the President in the bound delegate support category thus putting him on a path to clinch a first ballot victory at the end of voting on March 19th, Democratic enthusiasm in relation to vote volume is seriously waning when compared to recent presidential campaigns.

On election night, MSNBC News anchor Andrea Mitchell was quoted as saying that “enthusiasm (for Biden) could be bigger than we think.” She made the comment in response to her own network’s exit polls showing former President Donald Trump scoring much larger vote numbers in the affected Super Tuesday states. The raw voter turnout comparison data, however, suggests that Ms. Mitchell’s supposition is dead wrong.

A total of 14 states conducted Democratic and Republican presidential voting through the period ending March 5th. In twelve of the 14, the Republican turnout total was much higher than the Democratic number. It is clear that in only California and Massachusetts did more Democrats participate in the primary election than Republicans, and even in these two places turnout figures are far below Democratic performances recorded in 2020 and 2016.

In comparing the two parties’ Super Tuesday 2024 totals, we find that over 7.55 million individuals voted in the Republican primaries in the 13 states – California is excluded from these calculations because only half of their votes have been recorded at this writing – as compared to just over 4 million who cast a Democratic presidential primary ballot. This means that the Democratic total is only 53.1% of the Republican aggregate vote. This percentage will improve somewhat once the full California vote is added.

A deeper examination of the data reveals further enthusiasm problems for the Biden campaign team. When comparing 2024 Democratic turnout in these 14 states with Democratic turnout in the 2020 and 2016 elections, the enthusiasm deficit evidence comes to light.

When looking at the 2020 primary totals, an election that also featured Mr. Biden, we see the 2024 participation rate falling well below 2020 in every instance from the 14 states that held Super Tuesday primaries. California is included in this example because it is obvious based upon the current total of 1.76 million Democratic votes cast in the Golden State that the final 2024 figure will come nowhere near the 5.78 million votes that were recorded in the 2020 Democratic primary even when the second half of the 2024 votes are determined and added to the turnout total.

Turning back the clock to compare 2024 with the 2016 Democratic primary, one that featured Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) going toe-to-toe for the Democratic nomination, we see nine states that held Super Tuesday Democratic primaries in common with those in 2024.

California is again not included because half their ’24 vote is still outstanding and four current Super Tuesday primary states held caucuses in 2016 as opposed to primaries. Therefore, the aggregate current 2024 turnout total from these nine included states (AL, AR, MA, NC, OK, TN, TX, VT, and VA) finds just over half the Democratic participation figure (51.7%) of what was recorded eight years earlier.

These are certainly not the type of numbers that the Biden strategists want to see as they prepare for a difficult general election campaign. It will be their job to find new ways to inject more Biden fervency into the lackluster Democratic base, or the campaign will begin to suffer serious setbacks.

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