What can primary election results tell us about possible general election outcomes? They can’t tell us much about a specific race between two candidates. For those of you who didn’t vote in the primary election (and judging by the turnout numbers that’s most of you), when you go to the polling place to vote you select a ballot with a slate of candidates from a specific party (Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, etc.). You then vote to nominate the candidates for that party (along with votes for local elections/issues).
So you can’t really compare a Republican candidate with his/her Democrat or Libertarian opponent. The ballot doesn’t allow for splitting (i.e. you can’t vote for a Republican in one race and a Democrat in another). But what you can discern from the primary election is the intensity of voter turnout.
And Republicans won that last night in a big way.
Late last night after all the election results were in I ran some quick numbers on voter turnout for Republicans and Democrats. What I found was that, statewide, statewide Republican candidates got about 73 percent more votes than the statewide Democrat candidates.
Today I took the time and delved a little deeper. Most of the Republican and Democrat candidates got vote totals that were pretty close to one another, so I sampled the two races likely to get the most attention this summer and fall: The US House race and the Agriculture Commission race. Then I broke down the vote totals by county for each race, and split the counties into oil patch counties (western North Dakota) and the rest of the state.
I did that last because oil impacts will undoubtedly be the largest election issue in the state. Republicans will campaign on their record of handling the oil boom, and Democrats will accuse Republicans of mishandling it. This is particularly of issue in the Ag Commission race where the winner gets a seat on the State Industrial Commission which regulates oil and gas development.
What did I find? The Republican candidates dominated in the oil patch, and had a heavy advantage in the rest of the state.
Both Cramer and Goehring got more votes than their Democrat challengers – Sinner and Taylor, respectively – in every single oil patch county. Statewide, the Democrat candidates only saw more votes in seven of the state’s 53 counties: Benson, Eddy, Nelson, Ransom, Rolette, Sargent and Sioux.
In the oil patch counties, Cramer got 171 percent more votes than Sinner. Taylor did a little better against Goehring, but not much. Goehring had a more than 160 percent vote advantage.
In the rest of the state, Cramer had a more than 40 percent advantage against Sinner and Goehring had a more than 41 percent advantage than Taylor (Goehring actually performed a little better than Cramer did outside of the oil patch).
Again, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on angst over oil patch impacts to make gains this election cycle. Ryan Taylor, specifically, is hoping to make hay on that issue. But judging by the primary turnout, there are a lot more Republicans ready to vote than Democrats statewide, and particularly in the oil patch.
Here’s where I show my work. All vote totals taken from the Secretary of State’s election results website.