GOP Turnout Down in Pinellas County
In 2008, 119,000 registered Republicans voted in Pinellas County. In 2012, slightly more than 103,000 registered Republicans voted in the GOP presidential primary.
After Tuesday's votes were counted, 103,866 ballots were cast in Pinellas County for the GOP presidential primary.
Of those votes, more than 48 percent went to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Shortly after the polls closed in the panhandle, all news outlets quickly called the election for Romney.
Overall turnout, however, was down from the 2008 Florida GOP presidential primary in Pinellas County.
According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office, 119,200 registered Republican voters cast ballots in 2008. That means GOP voter turnout fell by more than 15,000 votes from 2008 to 2012.
In Pinellas County, nine of the 713 precincts favored former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Six precincts went to Texas Congressman Ron Paul. The vast majority went to Romney.
The number of registered Republicans between the two elections is down as well. In 2008 there were 230,494 registered Republicans compared to 220,024 in 2012.
Earlier on Tuesday, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said early voting was exceeding expectations for the average percentage of voters who turn out. She said that turnout for similar elections averages about 25 percent.
"Voters love the convenience of the mail-in ballots," she said at a morning news conference in Largo. Clark indicated that mail-in ballots are driving the numbers.
Voter turnout by sheer numbers across the state of Florida was down Tuesday. According to Talking Points Memo, 1.95 million ballots were cast statewide in 2008.
"But in [Tuesday night's] primary, turnout was actually much lower. At time of writing, with 98% of precincts reporting, the total turnout is only about 1.65 million — a drop-off of 15% in terms of the raw number of voters."
"Part of the reason for the difference may be that a ballot measure, the Florida Save Our Homes Amendment, was on the primary ballot in 2008 and could have encouraged turnout even among voters who were not interested in presidential politics. In addition, the Republican race in Florida was closer in 2008 than in 2012, which usually improves turnout at the margins."