Predicting Turnout In Senate Primary

Jun 11, 2018

Republicans will head to the polls Tuesday to select a candidate to run against incumbent Senator Tim Kaine. So how many voters will show up and vote?

A little under half a million people voted in last year’s Republican primary for governor. Will this year’s primary for U.S. Senate be anywhere close to that?

Republican Senate candidates E. W. Jackson (left) Nick Freitas (center) and Corey Stewart (right) debate at Liberty University earlier this year.
Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

“I don’t think anyone really has a clue what’s going to happen on the Republican side on Tuesday,” says Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.  “Early voting does suggest that it’s down compared to last year primary on the Republican side. And so my sneaking suspicion will be at least a little bit lower.”

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says last year’s Republican primary will probably end up having far more turnout than this year’s election. “Republicans had two high-visibility candidates in Corey Stewart and Ed Gillespie. And this primary competition this year hasn’t generated as much enthusiasm as far as we can tell.”

Stewart got about 155,000 votes last year, so that’s essentially the number Delegate Nick Freitas and preacher E.W. Jackson are aiming to beat heading into Primary Day.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.