Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Center for Politics & Public Affairs

    • u-h-419733c4a47a-jpg
    • u-h-9af179e6f4f3-jpg
    • u-h-7064698425af-jpg

2000 Pennsylvania Presidential Primaries

January 2000

Turnout among Democratic and Republican voters in Pennsylvania presidential primaries has varied widely in recent decades, from a low of 29% in 1972 to a high of 55% in 1980.  A chart showing primary turnout for the office securing the most votes appears below.

Most presidential primaries in Pennsylvania have been noncompetitive, as a result of the selection of two-thirds of convention delegates before Pennsylvania holds its delegate selection primary.  Historically, Pennsylvania holds its primaries after a clear presidential front-runner has emerged in both parties.  Consequently, Pennsylvania has been relegated to a confirming role.  Even with an earlier presidential primary, scheduled for April 4, 2000, Pennsylvania is not likely to play a meaningful role in the presidential nominating process.

The last meaningful primary contest in Pennsylvania occurred in 1976, and was a highly competitive Democratic contest.  The Democratic field boiled down to three choices: former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia, U.S. Senator Henry Jackson of Washington, and Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona.  Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp entered the Democratic presidential race in September 1975, but was effectively eliminated after meager performances in the Florida and Massachusetts primaries.  In fact, no preference received more votes in the Florida primary than Governor Shapp.

Carter won a decisive Pennsylvania primary victory.  He won 64 of 67 counties and narrowly lost Philadelphia by a slim 23,000 votes to Senator Jackson.  As a result of his victory in Pennsylvania, Carter virtually secured the Democratic nomination and eliminated his main opponent, Senator Jackson, from the contest.  The two-party primary turnout increased considerably from 1972 as more than 43% of Democrats and Republicans cast votes in their presidential primaries.

For a complete account of Pennsylvania presidential primaries see Pennsylvania Election Turnout
 

   Percent
   Republican    Voting of
Highest   Office & Democrat    Republican Total Voter   Percent  Voting Age   VAP %
Year   Vote   Used Registration   & Democrat Registration Voting Population   Voting

1960 1,243,644 President 5,108,090    24.35   5,170,696 24.05
1964 1,993,277 U.S. Senator   5,297,174    37.63   5,361,962 37.17
1968 1,786,155 U.S. Senator   5,144,883    34.72   5,220,878 34.21
1972 1,561,897 President 5,300,439    29.47   5,433,752 28.74    8,207,000   19.03
1976 2,169,322 President 5,023,278    43.19   5,153,095 42.10    8,531,000   25.43
1980 2,810,542 President 5,107,528    55.03   5,328,938 52.74    8,787,000   31.99
1984 2,271,867 President 5,407,103    42.02   5,661,444 40.13    8,975,000   25.31
1988 2,378,239 President 5,128,377    46.37   5,354,310 44.42    9,060,000   26.25
1992 2,322,118 President 5,073,137    45.77   5,323,056 43.62    9,129,000   25.44
1996 1,408,273 President 5,913,676    23.75   6,389,163 22.04    9,161,436   15.37
 

Sources:  Center for Politics & Public Affairs
Pennsylvania Election Bureau
Census Bureau
Federal Election Commission

By: G. Terry Madonna, Director
Center for Politics & Public Affairs