4 primary takeaways: Virtual ties, and GOP turnout surges


Missouri may have to change its motto from “Show Me” to “The Tie State.”

Tuesday night’s virtually impossibly close Republican and Democratic presidential primaries continued a string of recent razor-thin victories for a state that has been trending Republican presidentially but far more split on other statewide votes.

Here are four takeaways from the elections in Missouri and Illinois Tuesday:


A state divided.

There were more than 1.5 million combined votes cast in the two presidential primaries in Missouri.

Among Republicans, businessman Donald Trump leads Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas by roughly 1,600 votes at last count.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by roughly 1,500 votes among Democrats.

Recounts are possible. This follows 2008 presidential primaries in which President Obama defeated Clinton by under 12,000 in a Democratic primary, and Arizona Sen. John McCain won his primary over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by 8,411 votes among Republicans.

In the general election that year, McCain beat Obama by 3,903 votes, a margin of 0.13 percentage points, among roughly 1.9 million cast.

Republican turnout surge.


In 2008, the last time both parties had open presidential primaries, more than 827,000 Missourians voted in the Democratic presidential primary, and more than 588,000 voted in the Republican primary. Tuesday, more than 913,000 voted in the GOP primary and roughly 620,000 cast votes in the Democratic primary.

In Illinois, Democratic primary turnout fell from just over 2 million in 2008, when Obama soundly defeated Clinton, to just under 2 million between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders this year, according to the latest results.

Meanwhile, about 1.4 million people cast votes in Illinois’ Republican primary Tuesday, compared with about 900,000 in 2008.

Incumbency didn’t hurt.

Despite the anti-Washington, anti-insider surge that is fueling Sanders’ and Trump’s campaigns, incumbent Reps. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville; and Rodney Davis, R-Tayorville, survived Illinois Republican primary challenges.

Also in Illinois, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Schaumburg, easily defeated Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris in the Senate primary in that state.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, easily won a primary challenge over businessman James Marter.

Red flags still persisted for both sides.

Exit polls in Missouri and Illinois, while showing Clinton won decisively among Democrats, also showed that the former secretary of state lost badly to Sanders among independents.

Exit polls also showed that Trump won large majorities of Republicans who were angry at their own party, suggesting that any attempt to derail Trump in a contested convention in Cleveland in July could fracture the GOP in November.

CNN said about four in 10 Republicans who voted in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina said they were angry at their own party.

Chuck Raasch –202-298-6880, @craasch on Twitter, [email protected]


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