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Lower Republican turnout seen as warning sign to party


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la-na-gop-2012-turnout-20120212,0,4212665.storyChicago Tribune:


Two years ago, driven by anti-Obama passion, Republicans stormed the polls, punishing Democrats in a rout that delivered control of the House and swept hundreds of GOP candidates to victory across the country.

But now that Republicans are picking a candidate to face the president in November, the anti-Obama fervor appears to be cooling.


Opinion surveys show the incumbent remains highly unpopular with Republicans and the tea party wing of the GOP. But in virtually every presidential nominating contest so far, Republican turnout has fallen compared with four years ago, suggesting, at the least, a lessening of the intensity that helped fuel the party's midterm landslide.

Analysts caution against drawing overly broad conclusions; a depressed turnout in the primary season does not automatically translate to reduced interest in the fall campaign. And with the nominating contest suddenly more competitive after Rick Santorum's three-state sweep on Tuesday, interest could pick up and drive more people to vote, starting with the primaries Feb. 28 in Arizona and Michigan.

But if the pattern continued, it would mean Republicans couldn't simply sit back and count on supporters to swarm the polls in November out of eagerness to drive President Obama from office.Scissors-32x32.png

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