How Many People Voted On March 15? Mega Tuesday Saw Mega Results

The voting on Mega Tuesday is over and done, and as many expected and feared, it was a good night for Donald Trump. He won contests in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and the Northern Mariana Islands, and currently leads in Missouri, where the final results haven't been tallied yet. In general, turnout has been very high this entire election cycle so far, and Mega Tuesday was no exception. How many people voted on March 15?

When the dust settled and the ballots were counted, around 14,454,543 Americans had cast votes on Mega Tuesday, according to the vote totals provided by The New York Times at this time of writing. This includes both the Democratic and the Republican primaries. Over four million votes were cast in Florida alone, which was the biggest state to vote on Tuesday.

Voter turnout in the primaries skyrocketed in 2008, reaching the highest level in decades, but then fell drastically in 2012. So far, it’s looking like 2016 will be another high-turnout cycle: If current voting trends hold, Republican turnout in the 2016 primaries will be around 17.3 percent of eligible voters, which would be the highest in over three decades. Meanwhile, about 11 percent of eligible Democratic voters have come out to vote in the primaries this year, and that’s almost the highest turnout in any year since 1980 — other than 2008, when 19 percent of eligible Democrats voted in the primaries.

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While it's good that more voters are participating this year, it's still pretty clear from these numbers that not enough Americans vote in presidential primaries. It's not a good thing that 19 percent of eligible voters participating in the 2008 Democratic primary constitutes an all-time record — and it's unlikely that this year's total will reach even that relatively-low benchmark.

So far, in 2016, far more Republicans have cast votes than Democrats. Some have taken this to mean that Republicans have the enthusiasm on their side and thus are more well-positioned than the Democrats to win the White House in November. That, however, would be a bad conclusion to draw, because voter turnout in the primaries is not correlated with general election turnout. There was record high turnout in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries, for example — but the eventual nominee, Michael Dukakis, got crushed in the general election anyway. Four years later, Democratic voter turnout dropped by a whopping two million, yet Bill Clinton easily won in November.

So, yes, the GOP's turnout this cycle is sky-high — but that's no reason to assume that President Trump will be taking the oath of office in 2017.