Political Radar


June 11th, 2014

Hawaii is often the subject of criticism locally and nationally for perennial low-voter turnout.

But the remarkable defeat on Tuesday of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by economics professor Dave Brat in the Republican primary in Virginia provides some context.

Virginia's 7th Congressional District, which covers Richmond, the state capital, in the central portion of the state, has a population of about 738,355.

Voter turnout for Cantor's primary defeat on Tuesday was 65,022. While Brat's upset was a surprise, his campaign had attracted Tea Party support and was on the political radar both in Virginia and among conservatives nationally. Turnout was also higher on Tuesday than the 47,037 who voted in Cantor's easy primary victory in 2012.

Now compare Virginia to Hawaii during the 2012 primary election.

Hawaii's 1st Congressional District, which covers Honolulu, the state capital, has a population of about 692,981.

Voter turnout for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's primary victory over the unknown Roy "Sky" Wyttenbach II was 109,505. The primary attracted almost no media or public attention, since Hanabusa was heavily favored to win.

How about the 2010 primary in Hawaii?

Turnout for Hanabusa's primary victory over patients' advocacy attorney Rafael Del Castillo was 108,606. While Castillo was well-regarded by progressives, the primary was by no means a high-profile race.

So significantly more Hawaii voters chose to participate in sleepy, low-stakes primaries for Congress in 2012 and 2010 than Virginia voters who made political history on Tuesday by turning Cantor out.

While comparisons between states are often complicated -- there were competitive primaries for U.S. Senate in 2012 and governor in 2010, for example, that influenced turnout in Hawaii -- the numbers are interesting.

5 Responses to “VA-CD7”

  1. Johnson:


  2. Marilyn Lee:

    Interesting,every vote counts,M

  3. anthuriumz:

    just fyi, Derrick DePledge: the real story behind Dave Brat's win over Cantor was NOT Tea Party support. Brat's campaign message: "The main problem in government: corruption and cronyism." “Eric Cantor and the Republican leadership do not know what a free market is at all, and the clearest evidence of that is the financial crisis … When I say free markets, I mean no favoritism to K Street lobbyists.” Banks like Goldman Sachs were not fined for their role in the financial crisis — rather, they were rewarded with bailouts, Brat has said." I would vote for a SENATOR like that TOO! http://billmoyers.com/2014/06/11/eric-cantors-opponent-beat-him-by-calling-out-gop-corruption/

  4. Especially Incognito:

    republicans are fighting a Civil War.
    A Civil War that never ended at Appomotax.

    The conservatives in office
    are paid by the 1%. nocantor had millions in his campaign.
    bratwurst won by being popular with those against President Obama.
    tea party babies are no saints either.

  5. Andy Parx:

    I don't know what other races were on the ballot in VA nor how party membership and coting is determined there. Here there were other races on the Dem ballot (especially 2010 with the Mufi-Neil race), which virtually everyone chooses. Plus "turnout" doesn't indicate how many votes were actually cast, at least here.

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