Will high turnout help Democrats?

Republicans worry in Maryland as CNN projects "historic" turnout in Virginia.

Tim Grieve
November 8, 2006 2:59AM (UTC)

We don't have any exit polls to report just yet, but we're starting to get the second-best thing: turnout reports from key races. Election officials are reporting high turnout levels in most of the country. That could be good news for Democrats. More is generally better for Democratic candidates, and recent polls have shown that Democrats are more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans are this time around.

Some reports from the states:


In Maryland, where Democrat Ben Cardin and Republican Michael Steele are in a close and increasingly contentious race, the Hotline has a leak from the campaign of Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich that suggests turnout is favoring the Democrats so far: "Our internal poll tracking is showing that turnout is light in our key counties. If this trend continues through the rest of the day, we may face real trouble. In 2002 we won because of the incredible turnout. Our latest comparison of turnout shows a decline that could put the election in jeopardy."

In Virginia, where Democrat Jim Webb is in a down-to-the-wire race against Republican Sen. George Allen, CNN says turnout could reach "historic" levels for a midterm election. "Sources in both camps tell CNN they are getting reports of record turnout approaching presidential election-year levels from Fairfax County (Webb turf) to southwestern portions of the state (Allen territory)," CNN says. Webb's people want to believe that turnout is being driven by frustration with the incumbent; Allen's camp hopes it's conservative Christians coming home to the GOP. A sign of who may be right: CNN says Allen drew only 250 supporters to his final rally on Monday night in Richmond, while 6,000 people turned out to see Webb at a rally with Bill Clinton and other Democratic all-stars in Alexandria.

In Missouri, home of the closely watched Claire McCaskill-Jim Talent Senate race, the Wall Street Journal says election officials are racing to provide more voting machines to polling places drawing higher-than-expected crowds. "We've never had this kind of turnout -- ever," the Journal quotes a St. Louis election supervisor as saying. "We're doing everything we can to go quick."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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