the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large.
None of that is a surprise. But when you look at the numbers, it’s stunning how little this Republican primary electorate resembles the rest of the United States. They are much closer to the population of 1890 than of 2012.
Given the level of media attention, we know an election of great significance is happening on the Republican side. But it’s occurring in a different place, guided by talk-radio extremists and religious zealots, with only a vague resemblance to the states where it has taken place. From this small world have emerged a host of nutty, retrograde positions, unpopular with the vast American majority.
So far, three million voters have participated in the Republican races, less than the population of Connecticut. This means that 89 percent of all registered voters in those states have not participated in what is, from a horse-race perspective, a very tight contest.
Yes, we know Republicans don’t like their choices; it’s a meh primary. But still, in some states, this election could be happening in a ghost town. Less than 1 percent of registered voters turned out for Maine’s caucus. In Nevada, where Republican turnout was down 25 percent from 2008, only 3 percent of total registered voters participated.
This is not majority rule by any measure; it barely qualifies as participatory democracy.
Timothy Egan points out the miniscule Republican primary turnout. This explains the “massive” surges, as one candidate after another rises up to challenge Mitt Romney: the numbers are so small that only a few thousand emotional extremists make or break a candidates momentum. Not to mention the power of the most expensive television propaganda campaigns in primary history, fueled by the Supreme Republican Court’s edict that corporations are people.