At least 33 percent fewer votes were cast ahead of the 2024 presidential preference primary than in the 2020 contest.
The total number of ballots cast ahead of South Carolina’s first presidential primary is down significantly, according to data published by the South Carolina State Election Commission.
Overall, a tiny percentage of registered voters chose to vote by mail or in person ahead of Saturday’s Democratic primary. According to the commission, the state currently has more than 3.2 million registered voters.
Because prior presidential preference primaries did not include early voting, it is impossible to make a direct comparison between past and present voting patterns. However, inferences can be drawn by comparing the total absentee vote of a prior election with the about 51,600 combined early and absentee votes cast ahead of the 2024 contest.
It is important to note the Republican Party did not hold a primary in South Carolina in 2020. At the time, it wanted to protect the candidacy of then-President Donald Trump. Both parties had a primary in 2016.
According to the commission’s records, about 77,500 absentee ballots were cast in 2020. That’s about 50 percent more votes than the total number of votes cast ahead of the 2024 election.
In 2016, when both parties held presidential preference primary elections—on separate days— about 114,700 absentee ballots were cast. That’s almost twice the number of total ballots cast ahead of the 2024 Democratic primary.
President Joe Biden is expected to win the South Carolina primary. He won the 2020 contest.
On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is polling well ahead of former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.
President Trump has already knocked out numerous GOP rivals and is expected to win his party’s nomination for 2024. Ms. Haley, who was South Carolina’s governor from January 2011 to January 2017, has promised to stay in the primary race through so-called Super Tuesday, when 15 states will hold primary contests.
The total number of votes cast ahead of the election can preview the overall voter turnout.
In the 2020 presidential primary, 16.3 percent of the state’s more than 3.3 million registered voters participated.
President Biden won the 2020 Democratic primary en route to winning the party’s nomination and the White House.
By comparison, the around 114,700 absentee ballots accounted for about 10.2 percent of the overall votes.
In the 2016 contest, President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won their party’s South Carolina primary and went on to represent their parties in the general election. President Trump won the presidency that year.