Primary turnout lowest since 1986

Just more than one in five Connecticut Republicans voted in last week’s party primary, which Tom Foley won the Republican nomination over State Sen. John McKinney. It was the lowest party turnout since a 1986 primary.

On Tuesday, Aug. 12, 82,847 registered Republicans cast ballots out of a total of 398,437 active registered Republicans in the state, for a turnout of 21% statewide, according to figures released Monday by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

These figures are below recent statewide Republicans primaries. In August 2010, 30% voted, in August 2012, 28% voted. The 2010 primary also featured a contest for governor; both of those primaries featured a U.S. Senate contest. Linda McMahon won both U.S. Senate contests, and her media and mail campaign likely drove up voter awareness and turnout.

“The Republicans who cast ballots had their voices heard and made a choice about who will represent their party on the ballot in November,” Merrill, Connecticut’s chief elections official, said. “As the general election approaches, I urge all those who are eligible to register to vote, research the candidates, and come out on November 4 to cast a ballot.”

“The turnout was actually slightly higher than we had predicted for this year” Merrill added. “Compared to general elections, primaries consistently have a lower turnout so exceeding 20% was actually a little higher than we originally thought.”

Foley, a former ambassador and businessman, beat McKinney, the State Senate minority leader, 56% to 54%. Foley faces Gov. Dannel Malloy in a rematch of the 2010 race that was decided by about 7,000 votes.

The town with the highest voter turnout percentage in the primary was Norwalk, where 78.8% of registered Republicans voted. The town of Beacon Falls had the lowest voter turnout, with just 4% of registered Republicans casting ballots.