The presidential primary elections may have inspired hope for a change in government policies and administration in the past, but Super Tuesday 2012 failed to galvanize Ohio voters.
Only 25 percent of registered voters cast ballots this year, a decrease from the 2008 primaries when 45 percent of registered Ohioans cast their ballots, according to data provided by the Ohio Secretary of State.
Ohio is not alone in experiencing a decrease in voter turnout.
Among Ohio’s 88 counties, Butler County had the second lowest voter turnout percentage at 18 percent, according to data listed by the Ohio Secretary of State.
But Butler County Republican Party Chairman, David Kern, said he does not think low voter turnout for the primaries is an indicator of voter turnout for the general election in November.
“I think there will be a huge turnout to get Obama out of office,” Kern said.
In fact, Republicans turned out in a slightly higher percentage than in 2008 despite an overall low voter turnout for the primaries. The Bipartisan Policy Center reported 12.8 percent of Republicans voted in the 2008 GOP primaries as opposed to 13.9 percent in 2012.
Miami first-year Zach Stevens said, “Republicans tend to turn out with the same number of voters regardless of what year it is.”
However, Professor of Political Science Bryan Marshall said the negative campaigning for the Republican primary may have taken its toll on voter turnout.
“When you look at the election research, it suggests that when you have negative, mudslinging campaigns, turnout goes down,” he said.
Marshall also said that the lack of salient issues on the ballot may have contributed to the decrease in voter turnout.
Stevens said he did not feel strongly enough about the candidates in the primary elections to vote. He blamed the low voter turnout on lack of knowledge about the candidates’ positions.
“It seems for the most part people are not aware of the candidates’ positions,” he said.
Kern said people seem to be politically indifferent, which may have led to a decrease in voter turnout.
“The general electorate is made up of people who are not highly involved in politics,” Kern said.
Junior English literature major Justine Furbeck said she did not vote in the primary elections.
“The news did not make me interested in any particular candidate,” she said.
Furbeck also said the primaries this year did not have the same political excitement as in 2008, contributing to the low voter turnout.
“Obama’s running for another term and there isn’t any exciting competition this year like that between Hillary Clinton and Obama [for the Democratic nomination],” Furbeck said.
Mitt Romney won the Republican presidential primary in Ohio, defeating Rick Santorum by a one percent margin. Josh Mandel clinched the GOP primary election for Ohio Senator by picking up 63 percent of the vote. Two Ohio U.S. House of Representative incumbents, Republican Jean Schmidt and Democrat Dennis Kucinich, lost their primary elections to Republican Brad Wenstrup and to another incumbent, Democrat Marcy Kaptur, respectively.
Marshall said he still believes voter turnout will be high in November.
“My sense is that in the general election we should expect to have a very high turnout,” Marshall said. “The negative campaigning in the primaries is one thing, but in the general election, I wouldn’t be surprised if voter turnout is back up in the 60 percent range nationwide.”